Five Things We Learned from Wales vs. England

 3) England were too comfortable on the ball

England were by far the dominant team in the first half, and in truth could have scored more than they did. Wales looked exposed on the left side, perhaps due to the absence of Gareth Bale, and as such England looked to exploit this weakness going forward. Ashley Young would often be given the opportunity to run down this side and be able to create a chance by crossing it in, and with such opportunities awaiting them, England were quick to make use of it.

A pinpoint pass from Glen Johnson to Young created an opening that left a simple finish for an unmarked Darren Bent to double their lead. As the first half continued, England looked to create more chances and put the tie beyond Wales, but with the start of the second half there was a feeling that England looked to sit back and see out the match.

Had the match continued in the same vein this would have made sense, but Wales had clearly been made more alert during the interval and as such took a hold of the game in the second half, causing far more cause for concern than England would have hoped for, and on another day may have led to them conceding a goal themselves and bringing Wales back into it. Indeed, on this occasion such worries would have been unfounded, but one must wonder whether such policy would make sense against superior opposition.

4) The strength of this England team cannot be judged on this game

As always when England play, a good result may lead to raised expectations for the future and their chances of success, and defeat leads to calls for the head of the manager and for huge changes to be swept through the side. However, from Saturday afternoon’s encounter it may be difficult to judge where England stand.

At times, they were made to look the equivalent of Barcelona due to the anxious start that Wales had made to the first half and led to Capello’s side taking complete control in a half that saw Wales fail to register an attempt on goal. And whilst the passing play in the build up to their second goal was undoubtedly superb, it could be argued that such exposure should not have been there in the first place, as well as the fact that Bent had been left so open by an off-the-pace Collins, who was also at fault for conceding the penalty that brought on the opening goal inside 6 minutes. The interest will be in how well the defensive line-up, with or without Rio Ferdinand, will cope when they come up against a stronger attacking force.

 5) The fallout from the captaincy debate does not seem to have affected the team

For all the hearsay in the media about disgruntled squad members and anger at the decision to make John Terry captain again, the ramifications on the team as a whole were not there to see as one may have thought.

Although it may be argued that this was not the greatest test of the team, there was still a certain efficiency about the way England played, and was a signal from the members of the squad that for all the controversy regarding the mishandling of the situation by Capello, such issues were not going to have a bearing on their performance and as such got on with the game in question. The consequences of such poor management on Rio Ferdinand remains to be seen however.

 All in all then, not the most exciting of encounters in Cardiff, and although England were certainly efficient in going about proceedings on Saturday afternoon, it remains to be seen whether the squad in question will cope with sterner opposition. For Wales, it is early days in Speed’s tenure, and with some young members of a talented squad at his disposal, one must be mindful that a tough Welsh squad may come to the fore in years to come.

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