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EastStandBlue

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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.
 

Yorkshire Blue

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Really don't agree with your ratings for Milner and Upson.

Upson was responsible for the mistakes that led to Brazil's best two opportunities of the first half when he got done on the touchline and then when Upson played Foster into trouble with a poorly weighted and directed backpass that Foster could hit along the floor.

As for Milner, I really don't see what he offers. Whenever he plays he never seems to do anything, he looks to me to be the international version of the much derided Gordon Connelly. Sure like Connelly, he's got a decent touch and can retain possession and knows where he should be on the pitch so can be trusted by a manager, but those should be a minimum for an international player (notwithstanding the fact that SWP is an international). His crossing wasn't remotely dangerous. I don't care if he can cross with either foot if he is just dinking it balls for the keeper to swallow up. His corners were abysmal as well - to think people complain about the standard we see at Roots Hall.

I think your mark for SWP is probably also generous. Oh and Barry was particularly disappointing, and cost England the goal when he needlessly lost possession in a dangerous area and failed to close down Elano.
 

EastStandBlue

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I agree with you about the moment he played the ball back to Foster, I shouted at my TV when he decided to do that, but I think he had a tough job controlling a Brazil side that attacked in numbers when his compatriots consisted of a woeful Wes Brown, a Joleon Lescott that was going walkabouts up the pitch and a Wayne Bridge who is average at best.

Milner got that mark purely because he could pass and retain possession which, as you say, is a considerable amount more than SWP contributed. Milner was also positive in his movement and runs and offered an outlet to England when they were on the back foot.
 

Yorkshire Blue

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I agree with you about the moment he played the ball back to Foster, I shouted at my TV when he decided to do that, but I think he had a tough job controlling a Brazil side that attacked in numbers when his compatriots consisted of a woeful Wes Brown, a Joleon Lescott that was going walkabouts up the pitch and a Wayne Bridge who is average at best.

Milner got that mark purely because he could pass and retain possession which, as you say, is a considerable amount more than SWP contributed. Milner was also positive in his movement and runs and offered an outlet to England when they were on the back foot.

You probably just need to take everyone's (except Rooney) mark down a couple.
 

Pubey

Guest
Agree with YB, I really wasn't impressed with Upson. I thought it was one of those games that was calling out for crouch at an earlier stage. We had no quality theough the middle, and wright-phillips was abysmal, so if were gonna lump the ball up there (which we dis after 10 painstaking passes) we might as well give them a chance to stick. I thought tonight was the first time that capello failed tactically. We needed a true ball winner in midfield, Hargreaves HAS to recover and be on the plane to SA
 

Pubey

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...also, harsh on Wayne bridge. He's been poor for City but looked solid tonight.
 

EastStandBlue

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Agree with YB, I really wasn't impressed with Upson. I thought it was one of those games that was calling out for crouch at an earlier stage. We had no quality theough the middle, and wright-phillips was abysmal, so if were gonna lump the ball up there (which we dis after 10 painstaking passes) we might as well give them a chance to stick. I thought tonight was the first time that capello failed tactically. We needed a true ball winner in midfield, Hargreaves HAS to recover and be on the plane to SA

A bit harsh considering what he had to choose from...
 
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It's refreshing that everybody's comments on this game (in this thread at least) haven't followed the tired and lazy journalistic route of 'England have so much to learn to be on par with the samba masters' which I read and despaired over at my breakfast table on Sunday. I thought Brazil were decidedly average, and I have every confidence that a full strength England team, playing in English style conditions (as we will be in South Africa) would have dealt with them reasonably comfortably. My only concern would be our lack of depth in key positions, but I wouldn't even consider this an England B Team, it was more like the practice squad, to use Gridiron parlance.
 

Pubey

Guest
It's refreshing that everybody's comments on this game (in this thread at least) haven't followed the tired and lazy journalistic route of 'England have so much to learn to be on par with the samba masters' which I read and despaired over at my breakfast table on Sunday. I thought Brazil were decidedly average, and I have every confidence that a full strength England team, playing in English style conditions (as we will be in South Africa) would have dealt with them reasonably comfortably. My only concern would be our lack of depth in key positions, but I wouldn't even consider this an England B Team, it was more like the practice squad, to use Gridiron parlance.

Yep, the lack of any true flair in the Brazil squad is also advantageous. Kaka has immense ability, but put a disciplined man-marker on him (Barry i suppose or Hargreaves ideally) then we should be able to limit him. Robinho is SWPmkII, and doesn't travel well... only Carlos Eduardo looks like an old-school Brazilian... Fabiano is a potent goalscorer but I wouldn't say he's a World Class one.

There were positives from that England game, and it's also good to see that Brazil aren't the team of the 90s/00s.

Spain are still the team to beat
 

steveo

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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.

This was scandalous. As the keeper can see exactly what is going on, it should have been his call, something like "away" seems to suffice on most Sunday mornings.
 

Uncle Leo

This cook is an anti-semite
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I didn't see any of the game as i was on holiday, but what are people's views on Lescott? In The Times today, one writer gave him 7/10, whilst another said Lescott should probably start thinking about holiday plans for next summer.

Any time I've seen him he looks short of international class but after Terry and Ferdinand (assuming he gets back to his best) we look a bit weak at centre half. Shame Ledley King and Jonathon Woodgate are always broken.
 

EastStandBlue

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I didn't see any of the game as i was on holiday, but what are people's views on Lescott? In The Times today, one writer gave him 7/10, whilst another said Lescott should probably start thinking about holiday plans for next summer.

Any time I've seen him he looks short of international class but after Terry and Ferdinand (assuming he gets back to his best) we look a bit weak at centre half. Shame Ledley King and Jonathon Woodgate are always broken.

Solid enough, but lacks any kind of concentration or discipline to be considered as a genuine contender to start. He kept running off after Kaka, despite Barry having him cornered, leaving a sizeable gap in defence. If Brazil were any good, a carefully thread ball into that gap would've exposed us time and time again.

He's certainly worth taking to South Africa, as he probably is the 4th best Centre Back after Upson and he can also play on the left, but he's someway from starting.
 

leeblue

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shows the 2nd choices we have are nowhere near the ist choice, we need players pushing gerrard, lampard, terry, rio, cole but we dont even have anyone nearly as good as these players, if upson is the best we can do (3rd choice) its a bit worrying, where is the new gerrard? if its jenas were ***ked, lescott was ok at the back, with bridge being his usual ok, I am still wondering what the point of milner is, he does ok against the average teams in the prem(which there are a lot of) and then does naff all for england
 
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Uncle Leo

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shows the 2nd choices we have are nowhere near the ist choice, we need players pushing gerrard, lampard, terry, rio, cole but we dont even have anyone nearly as good as these players, if upson is the best we can do (3rd choice) its a bit worrying

Assuming you mean Ashley there, it will be interesting to see how Kieran Gibbs does now he is going to have a decent run in the Arsenal side due to Clichy's injury. Bridge certainly doesn't appear to be applying any pressure.
 

leeblue

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Assuming you mean Ashley there, it will be interesting to see how Kieran Gibbs does now he is going to have a decent run in the Arsenal side due to Clichy's injury. Bridge certainly doesn't appear to be applying any pressure.

good shout with gibbs seems to be doing well at the mo, maybe a tournament too soon in the summer but beyond that......., I try not to be too negative about england and I belive our first 11 could win the world cup, I just worry about the depth of our squad beyond that
 

BoyWonder2

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I think Saturday showed the real lack of quality we have at the top end of the footballing pryamid.

Yes, any team missing the likes of Lampard, Ferdinand, Terry, Cole, Gerrard, J Cole etc etc would struggle, but the likes of SWP, Bent, Brown, Upson and Jenas shouldn't be around the National team if that is how they play in one of their last chances to get a spot to South Africa in the summer.

After seeing Wes Brown "play" at right back on Saturday, I'm not surprised Fabio tried to get Luke Young. We have much better options at right back then Wes Brown. Yes, Johnson will be the number 1 (or 2 depending on how you see it) but surely the likes of Micah Richards and even Gary Neville would have been better suited?

Darren Bent showed he shouldn't be near an England side. A big, big chance for him to continue his Sunderland form, but he failed. He isn't international class, nor is Defoe in my opinion, but thats a debate for another day. We really struggle for centre forwards. Assuming Heskey and Rooney are the prefered front two, with Crouch as a back up to Heskey, what else is there? Defoe has had plenty of chances for England and failed, Bent isn't International Class, Cole isn't up to stratch and Michael Owen isn't getting a run for Man Utd. Gabby A at Villa is another shout, but if you took away his pace, he isn't even a Premiership striker, let alone an England striker.

On the right wing, its got to be Beckham, Walcott or Lennon. SWP hasn't produced in an England shirt ever. He has had plenty of chances but isn't good enough. Beckham would still start for me because of the quality he processes. Our set pieces when he isn't in the side are bad, I wonder when was the last time we scored from one that wasn't taken by Beckham. Walcott and Lennon are much of a muchness, both have unbelievable pace, but neither can cross. There is only so many times I can watch these two skip passed the left back, then their cross go out of play, be overhit or not beat the first man.

Don't get me wrong, a fully fit England side, with the likes of Joe Cole and Owen Hargreaves in would give Brazil a real run for their money, but coming up to major tournements we never seem to have that luxury.

I'd be going for:

James (Foster is an able replacement, but needs regular football)

Johnson Terry Ferdinand A Cole

Beckham Hargreaves Lampard J Cole

Rooney Heskey.

With that side, you have the option of playing a diamond in midfield with Hargreaves dropping deep and Lampard or Joe Cole pushing to the tip of the diamond. You could even play Joe Cole just off the two strikers and tuck Beckham infield.

You then have the option of the last 20/25 minutes bringing on Lennon or Walcott for their pace to replace Beckham when he begins to tire.
 
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EastStandBlue

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SWP shouldn't even be considered for a spot in the squad for me... The single most one dimensional player we have and no amount of biased, bullsh*t commentary from Ian Wright will change my mind. It should be Lennon, then Young, then Beckham... And that's only because I consider Becks to be an impact sub to create a spark if we're struggling to break teams down.
 

BoyWonder2

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SWP shouldn't even be considered for a spot in the squad for me... The single most one dimensional player we have and no amount of biased, bullsh*t commentary from Ian Wright will change my mind. It should be Lennon, then Young, then Beckham... And that's only because I consider Becks to be an impact sub to create a spark if we're struggling to break teams down.

No Walcott? I really rate Ashley Young, and would have loved to have seen him have a proper run out on Saturday.

He plays wide left, a problem position for us for years. He is quick, beats players, decent delivery and can take decent set pieces as well, something we lack without Beckham.

Hasn't really been given a run at this level, just the odd appearence hear and there, but I'm a fan, I hope Fabio is. Joe Cole and Ashley Young going for the left wing slot would be terrific.
 
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