Norway 0-1 England: Tactical Analysis of Roy Hodgson's Intentions
England have beaten Norway 1-0 in Oslo, enlightening us to Roy Hodgson's ideas for the European Championships this summer.
We didn't know what we'd find when we opening the month-old parcel that was Hodgson's appointment, but what came out will likely please the majority.
I do have some concerns, however, about how his formation will react to certain situations. We'll analyse both England's attack and defence here, but without further ado here's how they lined up.
Roy Hodgson stuck to his guns and lined out exactly how he had previously alluded—one striker, one "in the hole" and two sets of four.
Ashley Young took the free role behind Andy Carroll instead of Steven Gerrard, whilst the Liverpool captain slotted in at central midfield.
Much to everyone's disgust, Stewart Downing received a chance to impress on the left and was tasked with firing crosses in for his lone striker.
In the First Half...
Carroll and Young were very much isolated. It was up to them to drop deep and receive the ball as the quick ball between the lines was unreliable.
Steven Gerrard misplaced a few passes that he shouldn't have, but the ball usually found its way to Young and from there, he had ultimate freedom to do whatever he wanted.
Norway were narrow and unadventurous. While they did have a basic formation—five across the middle without the ball, with two rushing forward to support the striker when they did acquire it—they were barely able to create anything of note.
They were unable to spread the ball out to the touchline, meaning their wide players were starved of possession.
England's goal came from a great forward run by Steven Gerrard which allowed Young to ghost past Brede Hangeland and shoot. Switching it between the lines Real Madrid style was the key to bypassing their disorganised midfield five.
In the Second Half...
It all changed when Gareth Barry and Theo Walcott came on. Yes, they was poor, but they're not the main reason Norway came to life. The main reason is the fact that when James Milner was moved to central midfield, England lost the ability or the personnel to mark John Arne Riise out of the game.
Norway were effectively able to create an overload on the left side as Walcott remains ever-useless at his defensive responsibilities.
Check out the diagram below to get a taste of what was happening.
Did you notice how England weren't able to build up possession and play it out from the back in the second half?
This is the reason. With an overload on one flank, Norway were able to make one of England's central midfielders commit to the double-coverage, creating a massive gap in the middle of the pitch.
This gap was filled by red shirts, as Christian Grindheim continually found himself with shooting opportunities. As stated, Young and Carroll were isolated as an attacking pair—a fact which became more and more obvious as the game wore on.
Some provocative thoughts are conjured from England's first game under Roy Hodgson and his systems.
How will this formation cope against a truly skilful team in the wide areas? For example, Philipp Lahm looks like he could waltz down England's flank.
Is Gareth Barry a no-go, while England must rely on wide players who put the work in defensively as well as offensively?
Will Carroll's first and critical touch improve as the games go on, or will the jitters remain?
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