World Cup: Sluggish England frustrated in US stalemate
England crashed back down to earth on Friday evening as they played out a goalless draw against the USA in Group B to leave them still needing a result against Wales in their final group game. The Three Lions’ performance could not have been more contrasting to their opening match against Iran, where they should fluid movement, a clinical eye for goal and a fearlessness in attack. Last night was the opposite, Gareth Southgate’s men lost control of midfield, looked sluggish throughout and struggled against a team they would have expected to dominate.
It was only fortune – and a brilliant defensive performance from Harry Maguire – that saw England leave the game with a point. USA’s talisman Christian Pulisic rattled the woodwork in their closest attempt at goal but it will be frustrating for Southgate to see how easily the US piled pressure on England’s final third. The performance was so poor that England were booed off the pitch at the end of the game and now need a result against Wales to qualify.
Unnecessary pressure has been lumped on the manager’s shoulders due to the draw and it didn’t help that he decided to keep Phil Foden on the bench when the game was crying out for more creativity. Southgate knows he will be judged on results and should England cruise past Wales on Tuesday this result will be a but another blip in the record.
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Argentina aim to ‘turn the page’ after shock opening chapter of World Cup
As Lionel Messi walked down for breakfast on the morning after the “nightmare” before, he immediately realised the Argentina squad needed rallying. The captain had told them they had to “turn the page” on the shock defeat to Saudi Arabia, but felt a bit more had to be done to change the atmosphere.
It was decided to open up their Qatar University camp and let the players’ families. They stayed for over five hours, and it was said to be “great for the team”.
There was already a considerable difference from 24 hours before, when the dressing room was described by numerous figures as “a horror”.
Michael Jones26 November 2022 10:19
England fans’ boos add layer to noise around Gareth Southgate
It could be said, at least initially, that Gareth Southgate was in denial. That could easily apply to his comments that John Stones and Harry Maguire were “absolutely outstanding on the ball”, or that it wasn’t a game for Phil Foden in the middle “because he doesn’t play there for his club”.
It is really, however, about the result of all that. A very noisy number of England fans at the Al Bayt were again booing Southgate. It was of course loudest at the final whistle. Given Southgate’s response, the Simpsons meme from Waylon Smithers to Mr Burns has never been more apt. “Were we booed off, though? I’m not sure if that was aimed at us. I don’t know.”
When pressed on it, and told there was no real reason for any other boos, Southgate went from denial to an element of defiance.
Michael Jones26 November 2022 10:03
England booed off after USA draw in latest underwhelming World Cup display
England’s chances of winning this World Cup right now look as far away as this supposed protest against Qatar’s laws and attitude to LGBTQ+. Such present concerns also had historical echoes. England still haven’t beaten USA in a World Cup match. Much more relevantly, they for long periods looked an inferior team in this dismal 0-0 draw. They had fewer chances and much less impetus and energy.
It means that, far from going and lifting this trophy, England must currently be much more concerned with going out. That is the position Gareth Southgate’s side have now put themselves in.
And while it would take an awful lot for a faltering Wales to turn this group around in the final game and eliminate England, we are talking about a team that went from rampantly putting six past Iran to one barely able to muster a shot on target at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Michael Jones26 November 2022 09:52
Robert Page appears to write off Wales’ round of 16 hopes after defeat to Iran
Wales are clinging on to a World Cup lifeline as they bid to reach the knockout stages – even though boss Robert Page appeared to write off their hopes after losing 2-0 to Iran.
England’s goalless draw with the United States on Friday night means that Wales still have a path to the round of 16.
Wales must beat England on Tuesday – something they have not achieved since 1984 – at Doha’s Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium and hope Iran and the United States draw their final group game.
That would see Wales finish behind England and above Iran in second spot on goal difference, the first deciding factor for teams level on points at this World Cup.
Beating England by anything less than a four-goal margin would not be enough for Wales should either Iran or USA win that final game.
Michael Jones26 November 2022 09:38
Chastening Wales World Cup defeat prompts feeling of the end of an era
Aaron Ramsey’s exit was overshadowed. One of the players of Euro 2016 slipped out of his penultimate game of the 2022 World Cup, and surely any World Cup, amid the chaos caused by Wayne Hennessey’s sending-off. He was sacrificed for a substitute goalkeeper, with Danny Ward’s cameo involving the concession of two goals. The recipient of the first red card in Qatar was hugged by his friend Gareth Bale on his way off.
Wales football would not be at their first World Cup since the 1950s without Hennessey’s heroics against Ukraine, but his tournament is over and, after defeat to Iran, theirs nearly is. “We want to finish the competition on a high,” said manager Robert Page; it seemed realism rather than defeatism, to say their derby with England will be the end even though, mathematically, Wales’ fate was not sealed.
When Ramsey was removed, Bale remained on the pitch. Page’s tactic was to hope against hope a player with the propensity to produce something special out of nothing could turn rescuer again. He couldn’t; indeed he never threatened to. The faith in him stemmed from the evidence of his career, not the preceding 85 minutes.
Michael Jones26 November 2022 09:23
England turn to Wales after goalless World Cup draw with USA
Gareth Southgate is braced for the volume to turn up a notch at this “tournament of external noise” after stuttering England football team were held to a 0-0 draw by the United States.
Expectations were high after kicking off the World Cup with a 6-2 thrashing of Iran, only to be given a reality check in Friday’s Al Khor contest.
Christian Pulisic rattled the crossbar in the first half as Gregg Berhalter’s American side threatened to cause an upset against an England team that created precious little across the 90 minutes.
The goalless draw meant Southgate’s side blew the chance to wrap up progress to the knockout phase with a game to spare, leading to loud jeers echoing around Al Bayt Stadium at the final whistle.
Michael Jones26 November 2022 09:08
England add ‘USA 22’ to their collection of stodgy tournament games
I believe that that was bad. Not Nice bad. Not Cape Town bad. Certainly not Belo Horizonte in 1950 bad. But be in no doubt, after the fluidity and free-scoring of Monday’s opening game and the hope that England’s struggles since the turn of the year could be behind them, this was a return to stodgy, uninspired, set-piece reliant fare that has pockmarked the Gareth Southgate era, and it was bad.
Southgate warned that this would be a very different game compared to Iran. He was right about that. But he also predicted that it would be played at “100 mph” and that his players would have to be at it from the first whistle. If that was the type of contest he was expecting, he expected wrong, and perhaps that misreading of the challenge that the United States posed was at the root of England’s below-par performance.
Long passages of the first half resembled the vision of this sport from the States’ most popular and successful cultural export. Halfback passed to centre, back to wing, back to centre, centre held it. Held it. Held it. John Stones ended the first half with the most touches of any player on the pitch, while Harry Maguire and Kieran Trippier were not too far behind. England’s build-up did not get off the ground floor.
Michael Jones26 November 2022 08:58