Why A 2-2 Draw In Brazil Produces Plenty Of English Positives

On Sunday night, England nearly reduced Brazil to their first loss on home turf in eleven years in a friendly match in the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Despite the 2-2 finish in a meaningless post-season international friendly contest, Roy Hodgson can take a lot of positive points heading into the upcoming four qualifying matches for next summer’s FIFA World Cup in the same location.

It was made very clear after the disappointing 1-1 draw away at Montenegro which left England two points off the pace in Group H that Hodgon’s honeymoon period as England manager was over. Draws away at Poland and at home to Ukraine have left England unbeaten in the qualifying campaign but, according to some journalists, in need of a supposed swift turnaround.

Many have forgotten, however, that England’s fate in terms of qualifying for the forthcoming World Cup in Brazil still lies in the team’s hands with an encounter at Wembley with Montenegro—the key match in the final four matchdays in the group.

With three Wembley qualifiers to come, England should still remain favourites to qualify from the group despite a tough trip to Ukraine packed into those final qualifiers and the sensationalist comments from various journalists.

Although there isn’t the special and enticing figure comparable to Wayne Rooney emerging through the England ranks, there are a lot of youthful players breaking into their respective Premier League squads. For this, simply look at the names in the Under-21’s side which has been taken to Israel for the European Championships.

Nathaniel Chalobah has been revelatory for Watford in their unsuccessful promotion bid this season and will return to Chelsea under Jose Mourinho this summer. The likes of Luke Shaw and Callum McManaman who have broken through at Southampton and Wigan respectively this year haven’t made the squad through injury are two left-sided players which could prove a likely combination for England in future tournaments.

Wilfried Zaha has been named in the under-21 squads and has earned himself a contract at English champions, Manchester United after putting in sterling performances for Crystal Palace which has been paramount to their promotion this season and will be fighting for a realistic place in the World Cup squad next year if he plays his cards right at Old Trafford this season.

Looking towards other younger figures which have successfully broken into the senior squad include the Manchester United double of Danny Welbeck and Phil Jones. The latter of which didn’t look out of place in the Maracana Stadium on Sunday night. The defender-come-midfielder donned the traditionally important number seven and put in a shift worthy of the number alongside fellow United midfielder, Michael Carrick, to quell a strong Brazilian outfit.

Admittedly, the Brazil side that we viewed on Sunday wasn’t vintage of that in comparison to the likes of the Garrincha, Pele, Jairzinho, Romario, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho of old but the symbolic yellow and blue of Brazil still means something in international football and remains a powerhouse.

Danny Welbeck, who didn’t figure on Sunday through injury, has been an integral part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season at Manchester United and has netted five times in sixteen appearances for the senior national side. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain proved himself in Brazil after a short outing in Rio, coming off the bench to score from outside the area and holds a similar international record. Despite not having the same impact for his club side, Chamberlain unleashed his criticised final product into the bottom corner of the Brazilian net.

Another player who has received a lump of criticism has been Wayne Rooney who concluded the season with another rejected transfer request at Manchester United, scoring his 36th England goal.

The goal could turn out to be an advertisement to the chasing pack of clubs after his signature but alternatively, could prove to be another turning point in his Manchester United career as he welcomes his first manager in David Moyes to Old Trafford.

The curling effort inched Rooney closer and closer to the record held by fellow United great in Sir Bobby Charlton.

In terms of up and coming talent for the England squad, Jack Butland looks to be Joe Hart’s long-term successor with Ben Foster offering an adequate alternative for next summer’s World Cup in Brazil. Hart also seemed a transform figure in between the stick’s on Sunday, relieved of the pressure of a Premier League title race and was called upon on plenty of occasions on Sunday evening in Rio.

Gary Cahill looks a permanent fixture at the back should he be regularly included in Mourinho’s second tenure as Chelsea boss. In my opinion, Kyle Walker seems a long-term replacement in the England squad despite his lack of international experience. Andy Carroll and Tom Cleverley are useful options after the old guard have retired which might not instill the confidence from supporters of a return to the 1966 World Cup winning squad or the Golden Generation of a few tournaments back, but success could be close.

The regressed 4-4-2 formation used against Ireland has seemingly being replaced by Hodgson with Wayne Rooney playing a much more attacking role as the centrepiece of a squad flanked by Theo Walcott and another unnamed figure, most likely to become Danny Welbeck.

Whilst James Milner was used on the left on Sunday, he still remains a safe option as a defensive winger, and goals aren’t in the City midfielder’s repertoire. Yes, he scored an impressive goal in the not-so crucial Manchester derby in April this year but I find he is only useful when employed to do a man-marking job such was his objective against Franck Ribery at the European Championships against France last summer.

Goals can be found in the midfield combination of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard whilst Tom Cleverley can be wasteful in front of goal. However, Cleverley has shown great strides in his development this season, especially at international level. Alternatively, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all interchangeable across the three attacking midfield roles and all have a goal or two in them most matches.

For all of the bad press Roy Hodgson and England have received, readers might regard this as blind patriotic nonsense, but I think the future remains bright for the national side.

Originally from The Twelfth Man Blog, Edited and Published in permission with Jake Doyle.

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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