England choke on the big occasion again

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Football News

England fans complain over the quality of their national team going into every single competition, but on the basis of their performances in the World Cup qualifying group stages, they have reason to, not necessarily about getting to Rio de Janeiro as one of the automatically qualified teams, but rather about their performance once they get there.

Taken separately, a goalless draw against Ukraine, who have won their last four games in a row, is not a catastrophic result as they are a strong attacking threat, relatively solid at the back and England were missing several of their most prolific goalscorers - Wayne Rooney out with a head injury, Danny Welbeck suspended after receiving a second yellow card of the campaign against Moldova, and Daniel Sturridge out with a thigh injury.

However, one must always keep context in their mind and remember that England have yet to win against their main rivals in the qualifying group, Ukraine, Poland and Montenegro, even though they still have to play the return legs against the last two.

That is a disappointing return against teams who are all outside the top 25, according to the FIFA World rankings.

It is still likely, however, that England will qualify for the World Cup, as they have their fate in their own hands, and will play the most important opposition of their group in their next matches, encounters they are expected to either draw or win.

But, it reveals something more worrying about the England football team, as it shows that when faced with weak opposition, they can easily win by big margins, but when playing against teams who give them even a little bit of a problem, the defence struggles to cope with the questions asked of them and they seem to forget the basics of passing the ball accurately.

This is something Roy Hodgson will want to deal with ahead of the Montenegro and ahead of Brazil. He will need to instil a passion and hunger that the players have lost into the team, with the possible exception of Gary Cahill who played brilliantly well, or it could pose a big problem to them when playing top-quality in 2014.

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