From the beginning England showed a balanced positioning , good insurance defense and good counterpressing. There were also effective (and attractive) Individual actions mainly by Alli . Added to this was Rooney, who fits better and better into his role as a play-maker. All this resulted in good chances ( 6./13./21./23./31./34 . Minute).
EM 2016 Analysis
The Other Side of the Story – Russia’s Defensive Shortcomings
Russia presented itself relatively low and limited mainly to expectant defending. That in itself is not a problem. It becomes a problem the moment in which Russia was low, but there was neither a compact organization nor actively defended passing lanes . A good example was shown in minute 31. Rooney has just past the midfield line and plays a ground pass through three defending lines – only one foot length prevents the, at that time long deserved, 1 : 0.
England eliminates Russia’s Left Side Effectively
Had Russia the ball the structure of England focused (very successful) on taking away the left side of Russia. With the pass of the right central defender (Ignashevich) to the left (Berezutskiy) ran Lallana from outside and forced Russia to continue the play on the right side (By the way: Actually a fairly simple mechanism to transfer – but worked against a very limited Russian defense). This had two advantages. First, the left wing (Kokorin) was taken out of game, on the other hand the higher position of Lallana provided an additional passing option in the counterattack. On the ball side England had Sterling who immediately after the ball is won can create deep passing options with his speed and quickness. And even if these tactics were rarely useful, it was still a logical approach. Against opponents that show more quality on the ball this will probably not enough (Russia played two crosses direct off the pitch – without any pressure).
Russia Takes More Risk and Lands the Lucky Punch
Following the 1:0 by England Russia had its best phase . They pushed significantly higher, setting off their rather wait- defense behavior to permanently higher applied pressure . This resulted in several box scenes (chances were still nowhere to be found). This also opened up space for England in transition – situations that England easily could have used to decide the game earlier. What followed was the classic Lucky Punch.
Conclusion: England showed a convincing performance – in most aspects. Only the last details in the box as well as the necessary killer instinct lacked to decide the game much earlier. Russia, however, relied in large part on a (somewhat) organized defense and was dangerous on set plays.