England's performance against Russia will not worry bigger teams

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England's performance in their 1-1 draw against Russia has widely been labelled as 'dominant', but that supremacy can quite easily be put down to the Russians' lack of attacking intent just as much as England's perceived positive display.

For a side that apparently had full control on the tie, England only recorded 52% possession, five shots on target and spent just 25% of the match in Russia's defensive third compared the 23.8% Russia had in England's.

If this type of performance is what qualifies as a 'good' game for England then perhaps we are seeing how low our collective expectations have become for a team who so frequently deliver disappointment.


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Even if England hadn't conceded that late goal, the statistics would still be the same and the evidence we have for how they will fair for the rest of the tournament is unchanged.

Welsh pressure

Thursday's fixture versus Wales is now even more important and Chris Coleman's team will certainly not allow England the same amount of freedom the Russians awarded Roy Hodgson's side.

Gareth Bale has accused English players of lacking "passion and pride", a critique you'll often see on social media from irate supporters and once again those qualities were noticeably absent throughout the side.

Admittedly, Russia's dull approach was never going to allow the tie to become a ding-dong affair but there was no attacking intensity in any of England's forward forays.

Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling have rightly received criticism for their poor displays - the latter's final ball being a particular problem - but captain Wayne Rooney has received lavish praise for a midfield showing you would expect from any other player if they had been given as much time on the ball.

According to stats from Squawka, England's central midfield trio of Rooney, Dele Alli and Eric Dier were collectively fouled just four times, showing that Russia's midfield made no effort to place significant pressure on their opposition.

Rooney was not tackled once during the entirety of the match - absolutely not due to his ability to beat players - taking some of the gloss off his several successful eye-catching long balls.

Need for change

Wales and other top sides will not tolerate England's meandering approach and will dictate the game if Hodgson chooses to implement the same system he did against Russia.

As is common in any major tournament, the decision-making of the national team's manager is frequently being called into question, but this current outcry seems to carry more legitimacy than other previous expressions of displeasure from fans and pundits alike.

Kane obviously shouldn't be taking corners - Hodgson coming out to justify that decision suggests he himself may be doubting that move. Jamie Vardy is forced to watch on as Sterling repeatedly fails to kick the ball properly and James Milner, the Englishman with the most Premier League assists last year, is dropped in favour of Adam Lallana.

These are all issues coming out of a game that has largely been received positively by the media: if they really played that well, wouldn't these massive problems be far less prevalent?

Let's not forget England's defensive frailties either: Gareth Bale certainly will not.

No regrets

What's most frustrating is that fans are so often teased with seeing an England team that would reflect what the fans want and contain players who are actually in form.

Most supporters know our squad isn't as talented as the golden generation of the mid-2000s and, as supporters, we all accept that.

We just don't want yet another tournament to fizzle out without England even having a go.

Please Roy, start the Premier League's second top scorer and, for once, have no regrets.

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Wayne Rooney
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