Blogs & Opinion


Guillem Balague:

Most Popular Posts:

Recent Comments:

Cem Takaci on Making his mark

"Hi Guillem, all of this hype sourounding jose mourinho and the saying that the wave is swinging for real madrid right now. But once Jose leaves and it does seem that he will if not this... " View all comments

Siyavuya Zamxaka on Awesome foursome

"wonderfull column as always...I think Madrid have a better chance of winning the Cup game in all of these 4 games. This is because Mourinho can play any system and not worry about how ... " View all comments

World Cup: England's exit, tactics trouble for Italy and Argentina analysed by Guillem Balague

Guillem Balague Posted 21st June 2014 view comments

England’s World Cup dream is over.

Defeats to Italy and Uruguay, coupled with the former’s shock defeat to Costa Rica, has left Roy Hodgson’s men contemplating what could have been in Brazil – and desperately disappointed to be going home early.

Here Guillem Balague considers the reasons for that exit and why the Azzurri, who looked so impressive in their World Cup opener, were so blunt in attack against Group D surprise package Costa Rica.

He also looks at Argentina’s tactics. Lionel Messi had expressed concerns about the team’s set-up ahead of their match with Iran and for 90 frustrating minutes they looked to be coming up short. Fortunately they have the mercurial Barcelona star in their ranks to get them out of jail…

Our Spanish football expert will also consider the demise of his own nation – and consider the brutal analysis from midfielder Xabi Alonso, who is calling time on his international career.

BAINES ON ENGLAND’S EXIT

HE SAID: "You are at the top level of the game and it is small margins - we haven't been outplayed in any of the games, we have just come up short maybe."

GUILLEM’S ASSESSMENT: That is a decent analysis. Little details. How do you get them? Understanding the game, which allows you to adapt to the circumstances. And how do you get to do that? By good coaching early on. It always goes back to the same in England. More coaches, better coaching, more hunger from the learners, better analysis from the media. Those are other reasons. And there are more.

MESSI ON ARGENTINA TACTICS

HE SAID:"As strikers we prefer 4-3-3 as it gives us more attacking opportunities and if we don't use that system we suffer a bit. We as strikers favour that line-up. In the first half [against Bosnia] I was often on my own and so was Aguero and it was very difficult, so there are things to be improved on."

GUILLEM’S ASSESSMENT: And against Iran, Argentina showed that their problem is not the four fantastics up front, but their lack of balance (sounds familiar?). It is very hard to win with four strikers or forward players (Di María, Messi, Higuaín, Aguero) if they don’t convert into midfielders to pass, pause, create, distribute, move the ball around. It was clear by the way every top Argentinean player mentioned similar words in the mixed zone post Bosnia that it was a message to coach Alejandro Sabella.

PRANDELLI ON DEFEAT TO COSTA RICA

HE SAID: "We didn't get our tactics wrong. They were very, very aggressive and we were trying to find different ways into the game but we didn't manage it. We have another game to play and clearly the approach must be different than this. I tried to change something, but also those who came on didn't make the difference. We have tried also to have a numerical superiority in the midfield, but we weren't quick."

GUILLEM’S ASSESSMENT: Versatility in tactics is NEVER a problem. Lack of focus in the idea is. Italy took too long to discover the weaknesses of Costa Rica. In fact, they never did. They insisted on a couple of ideas (Candreva coming inside, Cassano playing between the lines to help create superiority in the midfield) but they lacked penetration. And for too long they had that kind of frustrating possession that looks like they are doing nothing else but moving the ball around. The problem with possession based football is that not many chances are created (it is like cooking a meal, putting slowly the ingredients and waiting for the food to smell, look and taste as it should) and it is necessary not to concede.

ALONSO ON SPAIN’S HUNGER

HE SAID: “Mentally we weren’t ready. Physically, maybe the same is true. Putting that all together we weren’t in the best shape. We haven’t been able to maintain the same levels of conviction, of hunger. We made a lot of mistakes. We lost a bit of that know-how and paid for it. We lost the solidity that helped us win so many games. We weren’t able to maintain the same ambition and hunger, that real conviction that we were going to go for the title.”

GUILLEM’S ASSESSMENT: Xabi has been privately criticized by some of the Spain players. They did not think he should have come out with that after the Chile game. But why not? The truth hurts. He will retire from international duty now. Same as Xavi and Villa, perhaps even Iker. But by facing the truth, we get closer to it. We were not well prepared for what some of those players that criticize Xabi and by himself, had predicted a year earlier: the lack of hunger could be badly damaging.

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Alan Smith

Smith: Diaby to bolster Gunners

Alan Smith says Abou Diaby’s return could be the answer to Arsenal’s defensive midfield problems....

Martin Tyler

Tyler's stats and facts

Who's played for the most teams? Which nation gets most goals? Martin Tyler has the stats......

Guillem Balague

Guillem: Messi has changed

Guillem Balague explains how Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are playing new roles this season....

Latest News RSS feeds

Approval for Anfield expansion

Liverpool's plans to expand Anfield have received a boost after the council grant approval for redevelopment work.

Smith: Diaby to bolster Gunners

Alan Smith says Abou Diaby’s return could be the answer to Arsenal’s defensive midfield problems.

Lampard may extend City loan

Frank Lampard's loan spell with Manchester City could be extended into February next year, according to Sky sources.

Live transfer updates

Ravel Morrison set for Cardiff loan, Frank Lampard may extend Man City loan deal as Manuel Pellegrini plays down talk of Ross Barkley move.

Pellegrini unconcerned on form

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini insists he is not concerned about his team’s form.

Features

Capital One Cup tie between Tottenham Hotspur and Nottingham Forest stirs memories of 1991 FA Cup Final

Capital One Cup tie between Tottenham Hotspur and Nottingham Forest stirs memories of 1991 FA Cup Final

Wednesday’s Capital One Cup tie between Tottenham Hotspur and Nottingham Forest will no doubt stir memories for supporters of a certain vintage. The teams have played each other numerous times since, but this will always be remembered as a rerun of the 1991 FA Cup Final.

MK Dons interview: Lee Hodson and Samir Carruthers chat to Sky Sports about the League One club

MK Dons interview: Lee Hodson and Samir Carruthers chat to Sky Sports about the League One club

Sky Sports caught up with MK Dons duo Lee Hodson and Samir Carruthers to talk about ambitions for the season, manager Karl Robinson, hot prospect Dele Alli, beating Manchester United and who would win in a FIFA duel.