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England's Second String Made to Swelter.

EastStandBlue

Life President
Joined
May 29, 2005
Messages
15,469
A second string England team fell to a single moment of brilliance in Doha, in an otherwise completely forgettable international friendly.

As has become a familiar case for the meaningless friendlies outside of qualification matters, the England side consisted of Wayne Rooney, Gareth Barry, Matthew Upson and a selection of players unsure of their seats on that Johannesberg bound flight in June.

The game started in a predictable, tentative manner with both nations feeling each other out without pressing too far forward. Rooney, captain's armband in tact, looked to trouble the Brazilian defence with some clever balls and intelligent runs, but found himself surrounded on every occasion. Brazil themselves were very much a team of two halves, seperated by their roles: Kaka led the team going forward, while the evergreen Lucio marshalled them at the back.

Kaka surged forward on multiple occasions, yet found Upson an obstacle too far as the defender showed his crudentials to replace an out-of-sorts Rio Ferdinand. Otherwise, England in the first half were stationary. No matter what Ian might say, Shaun Wright-Phillips was utterly wasteful in midfield. Time and time again moves down the right hand side broke down with a misplaced pass or a mis-cued cross. Darren Bent toiled with what fractional service he did recieve and a midfield pairing of Barry and Jenas failed to create anything worthy of mention.

The second half started with the one moment of football that could typify Brazil. Elano played a sublime ball over the top of the England defence, arcing it's way perfectly onto Nilmar's forehead and the young Villareal striker made no mistake in placing the ball past an outstretched Ben Foster.

Minutes later, Wes Brown showed a criminal lack of concentration as he failed to remember the number of times Nilmar ran off his shoulder, chesting the ball directly into his path and Foster had no choice but to make a desperate lunge at the ball, bringing the forward down. Luckily for Foster, he suffered no similar fate to Robert Green and remained on the pitch. Even luckier for Foster, Luis Fabiano sent his penalty into the rafters.

The sweltering conditions and defensive tactics employed by Brazil meant that, chasing a meaningless friendly, England were always up against it and failed to make any real chances of note in the remaining 30 minutes of play.

There will be positives to take from this game though. A first class Brazil side were made to work hard against a second rate England side that had several players to welcome back and several gears higher to reach to. With Argentina struggling for form, France struggling to qualify and Brazil hardly impressive in victory, the Spanish remain the only side to carve England to pieces under Capello.

Ratings:

Foster, 7. Unlucky today, made some good saves against some awkward shots.
Brown, 5. Poor concentration caused the penalty, could've done more for their goal.
Upson, 7.5. MOTM, best of a bad bunch, but kept the mercurial Kaka silent.
Lescott, 6. Solid, yet unspectacular.
Bridge, 6. Like Lescott, but this was one of his better performances.
Barry, 6. Offered very little, but defended well.
Jenas, 6. Read above, only defended less.
Milner, 7. A must on the plane for South Africa, done well on his weaker side.
Wright-Phillips, 5. Ran at defenders, but was utterly wasteful and his spot is surely under threat.
Rooney, 7. Captain for the night, led by example and toiled for the cause.
Bent, 6. Struggled but made the runs needed. No service whatsoever.

It would be unfair to mark substitutes, as this game was dead by the 60th minute in sweltering conditions.
 
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