Chile vs. England: 5 Things We Learned at FIFA Under-20 World Cup
England secured their second point of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, coming from behind to earn a 1-1 draw against Chile.
Peter Taylor's side appeared sluggish early on, possibly still affected by their late collapse against Iraq in the previous game. They struggled to maintain possession and deservedly went into the interval a goal down, as Nicolas Castillo converted a 32nd minute penalty following a foul by Daniel Potts.
England then rallied and were far more cohesive in the second period, eventually equalising through Tottenham's Harry Kane on 64 minutes.
Each side carved out a handful of opportunities to claim all three points, but will be satisfied with a draw that keeps both squads in contention to qualify for the last 16.
Here's five England-related talking points to emerge from this contest.
First Half Stylistic Struggles
Not for the first time the opening half suggested England were way out of their depth in front of a technically sound opposition. The difference between the two sides' approach was considerable and all-too familiar for English fans.
Chile passed the ball around with consummate ease, occasionally injecting subtle changes to the tempo to slice through their opponents' defence.
Without the ball for the majority of the first period, England seemed content to sit back and form two banks of four, with Ross Barkley hovering behind Harry Kane up front. This reserved, unimaginative approach allowed the opposition endless time on the ball and reduced their own attacking threat.
In contrast, when Chile lost possession they hounded after Taylor's men, pressing right into the final third leaving England resorting to long ball tactics—which again dented their offensive impact.
Second Half Improvements
After the break, England appeared a far more purposeful unit and deservedly clawed their way back into the game.
Having been starved of possession during the first half—with just 37 percent of the ball after 35 minutes—a combination of better passing, more in-sync pressing and some sloppy play from Chile saw that percentage rise to 45 percent by the final whistle.
England still struggled to keep the ball for some lengthy passages of play, but challenged more and won possession back more frequently. The key change after half-time was the tempo as most attacks were constructed at pace, with slicker build-up play and some neat, one-touch football.
The goal came after an energetic burst from Barkley attracted the attention of several defenders, allowing him to square it to Kane, who finished well with a low drive from outside the area.
Reliance on Individuals
Setting up as they do and being so uncomfortable maintaining possession against top sides leaves England over-reliant on individual brilliance to earn a result.
It's no coincidence that all three of their goals in this tournament have come via a set-piece, a counter-attack and individual brilliance—three areas that are never going to be as consistent or reliable as breaking a side down via precise passing and clever movement.
England will win games like this, but until they develop a smoother style where they can dictate the game it seems they will continue gambling with long balls and an overly direct approach.
Possession is, of course, by no means decisive in scorelines, as several sides have recently proved in the Champions League. However, averaging under 40 percent, as they did in the first half, is unacceptable and unlikely to yield particularly extensive success.
Barkley and Ward-Prowse Key to Success
As easy as it is to condemn England's seemingly basic approach, that's not going to help the plight of this current squad. New methods and practises need to be introduced at an earlier age, which won't help this crop of players.
As mentioned, games can still be won in any style and if England play as they did in the second half they should be able to win their next game against Egypt and have a chance of further progression.
To do that they need to keep pace in their game. James Ward-Prowse needs to retain possession in midfield and quickly feed the likes of Ross Barkley, who is capable of the odd flash of brilliance this set-up demands.
Later in the game, the introduction of pacey players, such as Larnell Cole and James Pritchard, who both made fine contributions in this game, could prove decisive in future ties.
Last 16 Still Within Reach
Given the 2-1 scoreline between Egypt and Iraq, in the Iraqis favour, England just about have their fate in their own hands come the final group game this Saturday.
A win against Egypt, who also lost 2-1 to this Chile side, should be enough to seal qualification to the last 16—surely a minimum requirement for Peter Taylor's side.
To do that they must end their bizarre 15-game streak without a win at an Under-20 World Cup, dating all the way back to 1997.
If they maintain the intensity of this second-half performance and remain resilient at the back, they will have a chance of making decent progress. If they revert to their first-half showing or the lethargic closing stages of the game against Iraq, they will soon be on a plane home.
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