England flatter to deceive against Spain despite bright start in Nations League clash

By On September 08, 2018

England flatter to deceive against Spain despite bright start in Nations League clash

A serious football lesson for England, albeit in the midst of some genuinely serious news. The desperately unfortunate injury to Luke Shaw will naturally overshadow a 2-1 defeat by Spain where Gareth Southgate’s side was overcome, overwhelmed and mostly outclassed.

The hope for the Manchester United left-back is that it is does not curtail a spell that has seen his best form since that dreadful 2015 leg-break. The requirement for Southgate, meanwhile, is to take the next step, and show that England did not just temporarily get around their fundamental problems to get to the semi-finals of the World Cup. He needs to show he can actually prope rly solve those problems.

This match emphasised how present they are, even if England were unfortunate to have a late Danny Welbeck strike ruled out.

England vs Spain - player ratings

22 show all England vs Spain - player ratings

1/22 Jordan Pickford - 6 out of 10

Could do little about the two goals scored in the first half and wasn’t required to do much more after that. AFP/Getty Images

2/22 Joe Gomez - 5

Looked a little troubled to begin with but came into his own. AFP/Getty Images

3/22 John Stones - 6

Made a great tackle in the second half to stop Rodrigo breaking free but got booked for it, otherwise did a decent job in the centre of the defence. REUTERS

4/22 Harry Maguire - 6

Controlled at the back in possession even under pressure from the Spanish strikers. Getty Images

5/22 Jordan Henderson - 5

Got sucked away from the near post for Spain’s second goal which allowed Rodrigo to find the gap and score. REUTERS

6/22 Kieran Trippier - 6

Brought down Alonso in a needless diving challenge which led to the second Spanish goal, went forward well but didn’t deliver as well as we’d have liked. AFP/Getty Im ages

7/22 Jesse Lingard - 6

Lit the game up for England when he combined with Alli on the attack but saw too little of the ball and had to cover too much when defending. Getty Images

8/22 Dele Alli - 6

Couldn’t make a lasting impact due to England struggling to get the ball forward. REUTERS

9/22 Luke Shaw - 7

Had a great start to the game, setting up Rashford for the opener but gave Carvajal too much room in defence leading to the equaliser for Spain, he recovered after this mish ap and performed well. PA

10/22 Marcus Rashford - 8

Scored the opener and could have had a second with a fiercer header in the first half. REUTERS

11/22 Harry Kane - 6

Sent Rashford through on goal in the second half and he held the ball up and turned well but he didn’t see enough of it to make a proper impact. Spain AP

12/22 David De Gea - 7 out of 10

Made a fantastic save to deny Rashford equalising and keep Spain in front. REUTERS

13/22 Dani Carvajal - 8

Was great all night, he put pressure on Shaw and Maguire down the left and tracked back superbly. AFP/Getty Images

14/22 Nacho Fernandez - 6

Steadfast in defence following England’s first, barely gave England a chance. Getty Images

15/22 Sergio Ramos - 6

Got booed by the English fans but delivered quality long balls and looked confident in defence. AP

16/22 Marcos Alonso - 6

Was strong in mid-field and won a few free kicks for Spain in dangerous areas including the one which led to their second goal. Getty Images

17/22 Thiago Alcantara - 7

Whipped in the low cross from out wide, finding Rodrigo with perfection. EPA

18/22 Sergio Busquets - 7

Did what he does, commanded the mid-field playing through he wide men and creating space with ease. REUTERS

19/22 Saul Niguez - 8

Scored the equaliser for Spain with a solid shot in a tricky situation, perfectly placing the ball past Pickford. AP

20/22 Rodrigo Moreno - 9

Played a perfect pass into Saul to get the equaliser for Spain before putting them in front after meeting Thiago’s free kick. The best player on the pitch. AP

21/22 Iago Aspas - 6

Linked very well with Rodrigo up front and wasn’t afraid to take the challenge to England and shoot from anywhere on the pit ch. REUTERS

22/22 Isco - 6

Had free roam on the pitch and made use of it, he ran through the centre, down the left, over on the right basically he was everywhere a nightmare to defend against. AFP/Getty Images

1/22 Jordan Pickford - 6 out of 10

Could do little about the two goals scored in the first half and wasn’t required to do much more after that. AFP/Getty Images

2/22 Joe Gomez - 5

Looked a little troubled to begi n with but came into his own. AFP/Getty Images

3/22 John Stones - 6

Made a great tackle in the second half to stop Rodrigo breaking free but got booked for it, otherwise did a decent job in the centre of the defence. REUTERS

4/22 Harry Maguire - 6

Controlled at the back in possession even under pressure from the Spanish strikers. Getty Images

5/22 Jordan Henderson - 5

Got sucked away from the near post for Spain’s sec ond goal which allowed Rodrigo to find the gap and score. REUTERS

6/22 Kieran Trippier - 6

Brought down Alonso in a needless diving challenge which led to the second Spanish goal, went forward well but didn’t deliver as well as we’d have liked. AFP/Getty Images

7/22 Jesse Lingard - 6

Lit the game up for England when he combined with Alli on the attack but saw too little of the ball and had to cover too much when defending. Getty Images

8/22 Dele Alli - 6

Couldn’t make a lasting impact due to England struggling to get the ball forward. REUTERS

9/22 Luke Shaw - 7

Had a great start to the game, setting up Rashford for the opener but gave Carvajal too much room in defence leading to the equaliser for Spain, he recovered after this mishap and performed well. PA

10/22 Marcus Rashford - 8

Scored the opener and could have had a second with a fiercer header in the first half. REUTERS

11/22 Harry Kane - 6

Sent Rashford through on goal in the second half and he held the ball up and turned well but he didn’t see enough of it to make a proper impact. Spain AP

12/22 David De Gea - 7 out of 10

Made a fantastic save to deny Rashford equalising and keep Spain in front. REUTERS

13/22 Dani Carvajal - 8

Was great all night, he put pressure on Shaw and Maguire down the left and tracked back superbly. AFP/Getty Images

14/22 Nacho Fernandez - 6

Steadfast in defence following England’s first, barely gave England a chance. Getty Images

15/22 Sergio Ramos - 6

Got booed by the English fans but delivered quality long balls and looked confident in defence. AP

16/22 Marcos Alonso - 6

Was strong in mid-field and won a few free kicks for Spain in dangerous areas including the one which led to their second goal. Getty Images

17/22 Thia go Alcantara - 7

Whipped in the low cross from out wide, finding Rodrigo with perfection. EPA

18/22 Sergio Busquets - 7

Did what he does, commanded the mid-field playing through he wide men and creating space with ease. REUTERS

19/22 Saul Niguez - 8

Scored the equaliser for Spain with a solid shot in a tricky situation, perfectly placing the ball past Pickford. AP

20/22 Rodrigo Moreno - 9

Played a perfect pass into Saul to get the equaliser for Spain before putting them in front after meeting Thiago’s free kick. The best player on the pitch. AP

21/22 Iago Aspas - 6

Linked very well with Rodrigo up front and wasn’t afraid to take the challenge to England and shoot from anywhere on the pitch. REUTERS

22/22 Isco - 6

Had free roam on the pitch and made use of it, he ran through the centre, down the left, over on the right basically he was everywhere a nightmare to defend against. AFP/Getty Images

It would have made the final score someway fanciful.

England still badly struggle against any team with a proper midfield, and that’s before we even get to the ongoing inability to beat a good team.

That is still one of the many issues that a supposedly transformative summer hasn’t changed.

England were also perhaps unfortunate to immediately come up against a Spain who already have changed, and themselves taken on the lessons of Russia 2018.

Marcus Rashford put England ahead following a slick team move (Getty)

There was very little of the paralysing ponderousness that so cost them in the psychodrama of that last-16 elimination. Instead, it was replaced by a new directness that new manager Luis Enrique has been so keen to instil as well as a return to their old pressing ways - one of the qualities that really made the 2008-12 side.

It was out of one of Spain’s pressing onslaughts that England ironically opened the scoring. Although Southgate’s defenders had suddenly looked uncomfortable when their space was enclosed, they had just enough battle in them to get the ball free - and allow the attackers to exploit the much more ample space that had opened up in behind.

This youthful pace is one of this England’s best qualities in open play, and was something initially amplified by Shaw. That’s what made his injury even more unfortunate. Shaw brilliantly set up the chance here, swerving in a fine ball - although one Dani Carvajal maybe should hav e dealt with better - for Marcus Rashford to sweep home.

It was just that this advantage was so quickly swept away, because England still have flaws that Southgate has to compensate for and that are especially susceptible to the elite international sides.

Saul Niguez equalised for the visitors (AP)

It was also because Spain admittedly showed they'd eliminated some of their own flaws. Their equaliser was not route one, but was born of ruthlessly single -minded play. Carvajal immediately made up for his error by impressively bursting past Shaw and feeding Rodrigo. The forward showed similar force by bursting to the by-line and then cutting back for Saul Niguez, who finished with certainty.

It was exactly the kind of abrasive and assertiveness that Luis Enrique has been preaching, and that had been missing from their World Cup, with the necessary pace almost personified by Rodrigo.

It was then hammered home by Rodrigo, too, as he made that darting run at a free-k ick for the second goal.

That it came from one of England’s strengths in a set-piece only fortified the feeling that the qualities that made the summer so joyous are finite, and Southgate still has a lot of work to do.

Luke Shaw was carried off on a stretcher after a nasty collision in the second half (PA)

He attempted to alleviate the amount of work his midfield had to do against that Spanish carousel by eventually bringing on Eric Dier for the wayward Jordan Henderson. That decision, however, only reflected one of Southgate’s own main flaws, and a general struggle with substitutions when a game needs to be changed.

Luis Enrique’s luscious midfield had by that point taken complete control of the ball, while showing themselves to be a few levels beyond England. This is ultimately the main issue for Southgate, and what most cost them against Croatia in the World Cup.

You can only work around the absence of a midfield by bypassing it for so long. It’s still the area that rea lly elevates the elite sides, where the elite games are won.

Some of England’s hesitancy had to be put in the context of the naturally concerned reactions to Shaw’s injury, but the game had already changed long before then.

There were still a few ironies, as Spain actually fell back into the pattern that so cost them in Russia by mostly weaving passing patterns around the pitch rather than killing the game.

Jesse Lingard in action for England (Getty Images)

And although the big difference this time was that it was a show of power rather than confusion, and that they knew they were in command, it did mean the game was still open.

It was almost level, too, when one slip let in Rashford again. His first touch was excellent, but his second was not, as a poor finish meant De Gea didn’t even require the kind of world-class save he’d produced against the same player earlier in the game.

The goalkeeper did require the help of the linesman’s flag when Welbeck was adjudged to have fouled him for that late disallowed goal. That late surge from England aside, though, anything other than a win for Spain would have been undeserved.

Luis Enrique’s team still have some learning to do - but nowhere near as much as England.

All that came home here were a few home trut hs.

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Source: Google News Spain | Netizen 24 Spain

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