Euro 2012: Roy Hodgson Must Make Big Adjustments to Ensure England's Success
The English showdown with Sweden was a brilliant example of why fans continue to watch the Euro league, but coach Roy Hodgson’s work is not done.
After being down 2-1 early in the game, England rallied back for a heroic 3-2 victory to eliminate Sweden from Group D play.
England is now tied with France for the lead in their division, with a tie and a victory for four points apiece. The fact that the English national team was able to manage a comeback and move towards a pivotal victory speaks volumes for the team.
But there’s still something missing from the English team before they can make a full run at the title.
To claim a spot in the final eight, England needs only a tie against Ukraine. Ukraine has one win and one loss going into the game, but England is a much stronger team on paper than the Ukrainians.
If England hopes to move on after that, they’ll need some real help from their coach.
So far, Hodgson has made some bold moves that have paid off tremendously. Adding Theo Walcott and Andy Carroll to the team, for instance, has already paid off: Walcott came off the bench for a score and a set-up today and Andy Carroll offered the first goal of the match.
With three goals scored and 16 shots, including six on goal, England played with the offensive terror of a champion.
Offense, however, is not a worry of the English team. It was their defense that gave fans much more reason for concern.
While England was the rightful winner of the game, it is worth noting that their defense was sluggish and ineffective, especially in the second half.
They had trouble maintaining possession. They split the breakdown with Sweden 50-50, allowing 17 shots (seven on goal) in the process.
If Roy Hodgson hopes to take England to the title, he will need to do so with defense.
He will need a better showing than giving up two goals in one half—especially to a team of Sweden’s mediocrity—when he faces powerhouses like Spain or Germany.
Those teams, also known for their offense, have multiple weapons that may penetrate an English defense.
If Hodgson hopes to keep winning, he will also need to continue making smart replacements like the one that he made by adding Walcott for Milner.
He will also need to continue playing with the fearless spirit that he channeled when adding two strikers to his starting lineup.
It made his offense significantly more intimidating, and a much more powerful force on that side of the ball. Star scorer Wayne Rooney will be returning soon to add even more firepower to the English offense.
"We have the quality of people who will score and we have a world-class player of our own to bring back into the team soon in Rooney,” he told the BBC. “He is very anxious to get back into the team."
Hodgson is asking for goals and wants his team to score at free-will; it worked in their match against Sweden. It will help them remain an elusive team in this tournament as well. But the defense still needs to be on point.
“It‘s difficult at this level, we‘re playing against good teams. Our attacking play showed good intentions and we looked dangerous,” Hodgson told The Sun.
Perhaps the English national team should take a page from former English national goalkeeper, David James, and follow his sentiments of strict defensive play being an integral part of the Hodgson identity.
"I think every game will be tight in this tournament. Bar the fact there have been more goals than I anticipated, only the Russia and Croatia games have had a two-goal or more deficit," James told Goal.com, who hopes that the 1-0 model is an important one to follow.
England’s play against Sweden was impressive, but to make a sincere impact and do anything in this tournament, Hodgson will need them to play tighter, more disciplined defense.
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