Jesse Lingard and Kieran Trippier evidence of evolving England who are finally capturing hearts of a nation

Matt Jones 26/06/2018
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Jesse Lingard and Kieran Trippier encapsulate all that is dynamic about this very different England squad.

Neither are star turns, with striking sensation and skipper Harry Kane, twinkle-toed terror Raheem Sterling, midfield tyro Dele Alli and Manchester United marvel Marcus Rashford the pride of Three Lions fans.

They are the only standouts in this England squad, which pales in comparison to the country’s World Cup contingent at past tournaments.

Feast your eyes on the following array of former England artists.

David Beckham, Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham, Paul Scholes and Michael Owen featured at France 1998. Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Sol Campbell, Owen Hargreaves and Joe Cole were in the 23 in South Korea and Japan four years later.

Steven Gerrard, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott went to Germany in 2006. Aaron Lennon, James Milner, Jermain Defoe, Ledley King and Michael Carrick made the plane to South Africa in 2010.

Four years ago, England boasted Jack Wilshere, Daniel Sturridge, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ross Barkley and Luke Shaw in Brazil.

The above 25 were just the tip of an iceberg of talent the managers tasked with leading the charge toward a second World Cup success could call upon.

Yet despite the embarrassment of riches Glenn Hoddle, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson had at their disposal, one of football’s biggest nations and one of only eight to hoist the famous Jules Rimet trophy high, have failed to even grace a World Cup semi-final in the last 28 years.

How ironic then that a squad devoid of much stardust is finally capturing the hearts of a nation when previous talent-laden teams continuously underachieved.

Lampard, Gerrard, Scholes etc perpetually went into tournaments with hopes built up high, perhaps too high. But talk very soon turned from raised expectations to dissecting the latest disaster at a major tournament.

Kieran Trippier has been in fine from for England in Russia.

Kieran Trippier has been in fine from for England in Russia.

Meanwhile, you felt the relationship between the England camp and media steadily deteriorating after each debacle.

In Russia, however, journalists and players have been playing darts together. And this England team are certainly poking holes in past perceptions – typified by Lingard and Trippier.

Trippier plodded through the early stages of his career, quietly coming through the ranks at unglamorous Barnsley and then Burnley after failing to make the grade at Manchester City.

Lingard’s rise across the city at United has been more public, but also problematic. He could score the winner for England in the World Cup final and still wouldn’t be able to convince most of his critics to take him seriously as a footballer.

Both are now quietly making murmurs in Russia.

Lingard scored a breathtaking goal in the 6-1 rout of Panama after a lively display against Tunisia, even though he was largely demonised for the amount of chances he squandered.

But you can’t ignore the stats. His 95.1-per-cent pass success rate is the 41st best among players at the World Cup. Lingard leaps to third when filtering out players that have played less than 45 minutes and aren’t defenders or goalkeepers.

Only three of his 61 passes have been misplaced and he is joint third among team-mates in tackles.

Trippier, meanwhile, has an assist and has delivered seven key passes – joint third with Joshua Kimmich and second behind Kevin De Bruyne and Salman Al Faraj.

So while Kane plunders goals in the hope of emulating Gary Lineker as the only England player to win the Golden Boot, at Mexico 86, overall this England team is greater than the sum of its parts.

And while analysts and even their own supporters might moan there isn’t much magic in this Three Lions, there is definitely something special about this squad.

Most popular

Spain goalkeeper David de Gea looks like a disaster waiting to happen

Andy West 26/06/2018
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

So, after all the drama and controversy, Spain are exactly where we expected them to be: through to the last 16 as group winners.

But don’t be fooled by that raw fact, because Monday night’s game against Morocco showed that this team is in trouble.

There are concerns throughout the team, including the identity of the starting striker after a series of hit or miss performances from Diego Costa and the question of how interim coach Fernando Hierro should configure his gloriously talented midfield.

But by far the biggest weakness so far has been the defence, with the five goals shipped in the group stages meaning there’s every chance that Spain will head into the next stage having conceded more goals than any other surviving team.

They have been conceding all sorts of goals, too: a penalty, a shot from the edge of the box, a direct free-kick, a breakaway from the halfway line, a header from a corner …you name it, Spain are vulnerable in every area.

And that all starts with the goalkeeper, David De Gea, whose place in the side is coming into serious question following another worrying performance against Morocco.

Some of the criticism of the Manchester United man currently being bandied around in Spain is unjustified: he could have done nothing, for example, about the brilliant header netted by Youssef En-Nesyri for Morocco – it was too far away for him to come off his line, and the header was planted right into the corner.

But it’s impossible to escape the underlying feeling that De Gea just does not look right, and does not transmit confidence to the rest of the team.

A couple of moments from the Morocco game capture that sentiment. Firstly, shortly before half-time Morocco striker Khalid Boutaib took advantage of Spain sleeping at a throw-in to race clear, one on one against the goalkeeper. De Gea actually made a save (his first of the tournament), but the manner in which he did it owed a lot to fortune as he stayed rooted to his line and needed a heavy touch from the striker to eventually stop the shot, still inside his six-yard box.

Later, near the end of the game, a cross into the box should have been meat and drink for the goalkeeper, but De Gea was slow to react and eventually had to take desperate measures, diving awkwardly to deflect the ball away with his forearm in an ugly-looking and unconventional manoeuvre.

Those two incidents summed up De Gea’s great weakness: he is extremely reluctant to come off his line, and when he does it generally leads to a heart-in-mouth moment.

Playing for Spain, this is a major problem. Unlike his club side, De Gea’s national team holds a high defensive line, pushing up the pitch to pin the opposition deep inside their own half. That leaves the goalkeeper with 40 yards of green space in front of him, requiring him to be comfortable and confident in that area.

De Gea cannot do that, and there, perhaps, lies the source of the unease which is flowing palpably throughout the Spanish defensive ranks.

So should he be dropped? In reality, probably not due to a lack of viable alternatives. The squad’s other goalkeepers are Athletic Bilbao’s Kepa Arrizabalaga, who only has one cap, and veteran Pepe Reina, who has played just one competitive international game in four years.

Introducing an unknown quantity would be a massive risk for Hierro – probably a greater risk than leaving in De Gea. But on current form, the keeper is looking like a disaster waiting to happen.

Most popular

Isco demands improvements from Spain after draw with Morocco

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Isco has demanded his Spain side improve after dramatically avoiding a shock defeat to Morocco in their final group stage game at the World Cup.

The Real Madrid playmaker scored Spain’s first equaliser as the 2010 champions twice came from behind in a 2-2 draw, but he was more concerned about how easily he and his teammates have been giving goals away at the tournament.

Spain’s chaotic tie against Morocco came after a 3-3 draw with Portugal in their opener, and their defensive frailties have been laid bare in those two matches – a worry considering they were thought to be one of the favourites to lift the trophy.

“Again we started a bit doubtful, we couldn’t get going,” Isco said.

“From now on games are life or death. We can’t keep giving goals away, we have to focus.

“We are lacking what we know best, controlling games and having the ball.

“We have to put the batteries in, any rival team would send us home.”

Morocco, who had already been eliminated from the tournament and had nothing to play for against Spain, were accused of going in too hard in what was a fiercely contested clash, but Isco brushed aside those complaints.

“That’s football, they did their job and were professional,” he said.”They tackled hard like anyone, we can’t complain.”

Spain topped their group thanks to their dramatic late equaliser on Monday, setting up a tie against hosts Russia in the last 16 on Sunday.

Russia were the lowest-ranked team going into the tournament, but have been galvanised by the home support, and Isco says Spain will not be taking them lightly.

“We know it will be hard against the hosts, who are having a fantastic tournament,” he added.

Most popular

Related Tags