Tag Archives: Raheem Sterling

England win but football loses

Its not often you come away from a tough away game with a 6-0 win and feel sad and disillusioned with the game. But for many last night, the sad scenes in the stands in Sofia overshadowed what was a very good England performance and threw the game into disrepute. 

There had been much speculation about the behaviour of the Bulgarian fans, after a number of incidents in recent years highlighted the large racist undertone within their fan base, and England captain Harry Kane had spoke of leading his teammates off the field if there was any sniff of racially motivated chanting or jeers.

From the get go England’s black stars were booed every time they touched the ball, attackers Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford as well as debutant centre back Tyrone Mings. But it wasn’t until the 28th minute play was put on hold with discussions taking place on the sideline, and a stadium announcement being made over the speakers warning fans the game would be stopped if this behaviour carried on.

However, this did not stop the chants, the boo’s and the abhorrent monkey noises being made, and the game was then stopped again in the 43rd minute, this time with Southgate talking with the referee before the game was again restarted.

Further racist incidents continued into the second half, caught on pitch-side microphones, but play was not stopped for a third time, which would have been crucial as UEFA’s three step racism protocol states if a match is stopped for a third time the match must be abandoned.

Further footage shows fans doing Nazi salutes and one fan holding up a “no respect” jumper. Debate has been rife over the best course of action in a situation such as this, is it best to walk from the pitch refusing to stand for this kind of abuse? Or is it best to play on and not let the racists win? England chose the latter last night, and with Rashford and Sterling both scoring, as well as Ross Barkley who’s grandfather is Nigerian, well and truly silenced the racist scum in the stands.

If this was not bad enough, Bulgaria’s own manager Krasimir Balakov seemingly defended his fans post match, claiming he did not hear any racist chants towards the England players and actually blamed the England fans for unacceptable behaviour. When the man at the top is seemingly just as bad as the racists in the stands, it is concerning for all involved and something UEFA must take a serious look at.

With all of the focus being firmly set on what happened off the pitch, it is important to remember just what the England players achieved in representing their country in such difficult circumstances, standing up to racism and doing our country proud in the process.

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Can England Qualify Against Bulgaria?

Tonight sees England play Bulgaria in a game that should England win, will see them qualify for the Euro 2020 finals.

Now it also sees a scenario similar to the game England played on Friday against the Czech Republic. Win, and England go through.

In total England have met Bulgaria 9 times and have an excellent record against them.

Since the 0-0 draw in their first meeting in June 1962, they have met a further eight times. England have won 5, the most recent of which was 2010, when a 4-0 result was the outcome, thanks in part to a Jermain Defoe hat trick.

In between times. there have been 3 draws and its in two of those draws that Bulgaria have scored their only goals, 2 in total against England.

England’s goal scoring average against Bulgaria over the 9 games is 2, so going on that statistic alone, tonights game should represent a comfortable enough platform on which to secure qualification.

That said, it will prove interesting tonight, because Bulgaria, employ a variation of the 3 5 2 system that England used to play and appear to find diffculties playing against, by playing a 5 3 2 formation, so in theory have 5 defenders and rely on the counter attack.

Overall taking that out of context, Bulgaria are bottom of the group and have only two points. Confidence will not be high for them, and should England start the same they did against the Czechs by scoring early, and maintaining throughout the game, then England have a good chance of recording their highest score against them.

Where did England Go Wrong?

On Friday night in the Czech Republic, England faced the possibility of winning against the Czech’s and qualifying for Euro 2020.

Top of the group and unbeaten in this campaign so far, it all looked very rosy for England.

With a strong line up, in Gareth Southgate’s now preferred 4 3 3 formation, with debut’s for the Chelsea pairing of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham, against the less fancied Czechs. lining up in a 3 5 2 formation. Everything looked like it would go England’s way.

The opening exchanges went well for England, with strong attacking football, which saw Raheem Sterling win a penalty in the 5th Minute, swiftly converted by Harry Kane.

We expected the performance to increase and a comfortable victory to follow, ensuring qualification.

However, the penalty seemed to not only galvanise the Czechs, but it was almost like a bee had stung them on the backside.

They woke up and raised their game significantly, helped by the formation they were playing, 3 5 2. They piled pressure on England, going close a couple of times. These were wake up calls for England, but they quickly pulled level and deservedly so, just 4 minutes later.

The only surprise was that it took that long for them to equalise…

From that point on for the entire match, England laboured and toiled much harder than they needed to.

So,

What went wrong for England

To get the answer to this, you only have to look back to the last Premier League Weekend, when Wolves travelled to the Etihad Satdium, home of Manchester City and beat them in their own back yard 2-0.

But what has that result got to do with England losing in Czech Republic?

At face value, nothing, but upon closer inspection, quite a lot.

You see, just as in the Czech Republic, Wolves employed their favoured, tried and tested 3 5 2 formation, against Man City’s 4 3 3 and came away with the right result.

Now on paper it shouldn’t matter which formation you play, the result should be a positive one, if you have a good game plan.

England had a game plan, it is a tried and tested one, but, when pitched against a team playing 3 5 2, then it can prove significantly difficult to penetrate, because in a 3 5 2 formation, the opposition will have numbers over, if the players do their jobs correctly.

The Czechs executed their jobs perfectly, faster, pressed better, had players over and England were left frustrated and arguing amongst themselves, because they couldn’t create the space they required to break through and so drew blanks every time.

It will be interesting to see how Engand fare against Bulgaria this evening in their next qualifier, because they commonly line up in a 3-5-2 formation as well. What will Southgate have to do to overcome them, and secure qualifying?

If England can raise their game and also eliminate the poor decision making and passive play they employed against the Czechs, then they will come away with a good result and qualification will be assured.

Too many times, through poor decision making did England let the Czechs in.

Tonights match should be an interesting one…

Tweet us your thoughts on tonight’s game @247FootballUK

Combined Arsenal Man City XI

Man City prepare to play Arsenal for the second time in five days after their comfortable Carabao Cup final victory. This time the two face off in the Premier League, but who would make the cut in a combined XI?

GK Ederson- The influence Ederson has on this City side cannot be understated, one of the key differences between the City of last season, and this season is the presence of a world class goalkeeper. Ederson’s ability with the ball at his feet is his strongest attribute, but his all round goalkeeping cannot be underestimated. This can be seen by his miraculous save from a close range Lukaku effort in the Manchester derby earlier this season.

RB Kyle Walker- Guardiola moved quickly to ensure he replaced his ageing fullbacks with young, quick players, and in Kyle Walker they got one of the best around. Going forward he offers pace and solid delivery into the box, complimenting the wing play of Leroy Sane perfectly, who prefers to come inside, leaving the space for Walker to overlap. Defensively he is also solid, his pace managing to nullify most wingers.

CB Vincent Kompany- Despite his numerous injury troubles over the past  few seasons, the fact remains that when he’s fit, he’s the best defender in the country. Now enjoying an injury free run in the side, Kompany is back to his best, and at only 31 years of age, he still has a good number of years left to cemente his legacy as one of City’s greatest ever players.

CB Nicolas Otamendi- Otamendi is one of the most improved players in the Premier League. Often seen as a bit of a liability at the back before this season, Otamendi now looks like a completely new player. Calm and composed, compared to his previous erratic and unpredictable style of play, Otamendi is a player reborn under the tutelage of Pep.

LB Nacho Monreal- The first Arsenal player to make the team, Monreal is having his best season in England, despite the constant turmoil currently going on at the Emirates. Monreal is having the best goal scoring season of his career, with 5 goals in all competitions (the same amount as Mesut Ozil and Danny Welbeck). Not bad for a left back.

CM Fernandinho- Fernandinho has consistently preformed in City’s engine room for the past few seasons, and allows their more dangerous players to attack relentlessly. However, he is much more than a standard defensive midfielder, capable of scoring and assisting goals making him a very well rounded player, and perfect to play a similar role that Sergio Busquets played at Barcelona.

CM Jack Wilshere- Perhaps a controversial choice in the centre of the park, but when he’s on form, Wilshere is a brilliant player. Another player who has suffered with injuries over recent years, Wilshere finally looks to be injury free, and has been putting in impressive performances this season. With his contract situation still not resolved, Wilshere could move on this summer, and if he carries on playing like he currently is will not be short of offers.

RW Leroy Sane- Sane continues to impress during his second season in the Premier League, and despite not being the main man at the Etihad, his potential is frightening. 11 goals this season reflects a brilliant return for the wide man, but it is his all round wing wizardry that has captured the attention of fans across the country.

AM Kevin De Bruyne- Possibly the best player in the Premier League, De Bruyne is unbelievable to watch, and does not have a single weakness opposition teams can try to take advantage of. His consistency is unrivalled, and there is not a single team in the world that De Bruyne wouldn’t instantly improve. 11 goals and 19 assists highlight his ability, and you can guarantee there are plenty more goals and assists to come as he leads City’s treble hopes.

LW Raheem Sterling- Sterling has gone from a tricky winger who failed to deliver an end product on a regular basis, to one of the best and most consistent wingers in the Premier League. If you’d have said at the beginning of the season Sterling would have 20 goals by February, most fans and pundits would have laughed you out of the room, but that is exactly what has happened. The improvement is as clear as day, and even Sterling’s most harshest critics cannot deny that he is justifying that £50 million price tag.

ST Sergio Aguero- Not a lot can be said about Aguero that hasn’t already been said, put simply, he is one of the greatest goalscorers the Premier League has ever seen. Despite rumours that Pep wasn’t his biggest fan, Aguero has continued to bang in the goals, and is on course for his best ever season. Already City’s all time top scorer and one goal away from 200 strikes for the Citizens, it doesnt look like the goals will be drying up anytime soon.

Who should be England’s World Cup Captain?

England’s star man Harry Kane has worn the armband for this international break and has done a good job, scoring both goals in the Three Lions’ two 1-0 wins. However, should the Tottenham frontman be captaining his country for the 2018 World Cup?

England have notably a very young squad with talents such as Marcus Rashford, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling. Looking at the past few England captains, they have all had experience: Rooney, Gerrard, Terry, Ferdinand, etc. However, England have also notably not done very well at tournaments, so is it always right for the captain to be the traditional leader, hard as nails, shouting player? Maybe not. Perhaps it is time to give somebody young the armband. Somebody who is actually putting in good performances for their country as well as their club, like Harry Kane or even Rashford, who recently for England and Manchester United has been unstoppable, albeit against teams who may not be qualifying for the World Cup.

Kane has captained England three times, these two recent matches and against Scotland in June. In all of those three matches, the Spurs striker has scored and England are undefeated. He is also putting in performances for the Three Lions and showing the passion and dedication required of an England captain, so why shouldn’t it be Kane?

Maybe this is the tournament where England move away from the traditional captain figure, such as Terry or Ferdinand and look up top, and who knows, maybe this tournament could be different for England over this decision.