ENGLAND 1-1 FRANCE – UEFA EURO 2012 GROUP D MATCH REVIEW
It’s safe to say both sides played this one relatively safe. Whether it was both sides settling for a point, or both sides testing the water before jumping in, England and France seemed equally matched throughout most of the game.
England lines up as they expected to, with a 4-4-1-1 formation, with the option of becoming 4-2-3-1 while in possession. However, England was so focused on keeping it’s 2 solid banks of 4 together, they lacked support in while in possession. In the end, England can say they did exactly what they planned to do, which was defend solidly first, and look for goals off of set pieces or counterattacks. Luckily for the Three Lions, France’s formation suited England’s set up well, and they were rarely troubled. On the other end of the field, England created one clear cut chance, in which Young fed Milner a favorable through ball, and though he rounded the keeper, he failed to roll it into the open net. This is where England is at it’s best, direct possession, with forward players interchanging positions and making runs for each other. There was also a spell in the second half where England possessed the ball well in Frances half, yet refused to create a solid chance. This showed that if they wanted to, they could turn the tides on other teams and possess themselves.
France lined up with a bit of a surprise line-up, given how England set up. The formation of 4-3-3 wasn’t as strange as it was to use Florent Malouda as a center midfielder. This formation ensured the majority of the possession, yet lent itself to a lack of a cutting edge. Testament to this was their one goal, in which Manchester City man Samir Nasri had enough of patient build up, and released from 25 yards, beating Joe Hart at his near post. You have to believe that if France had dropped Malouda, and chose an attacking 4 of Ribery, Ben Arfa, Nasri, and Benzema, that England would have had a hard time keeping up. Perhaps had this been later in the tournament, coach Luarent Blanc would have been more adventurous, but that is neither here nor there. As it was, France rarely troubled England, with their non-threatening possession doing most of the work.
Final Verdict: Both sides refused to flex their muscles, in an attempt to guarantee a result, with both sides succeeding. Both teams though will have to show more of a desire and cutting edge to get the results they expect against Sweden and Ukraine though.