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Film Focus: How Mismatched England Were Condemned to 2-0 Defeat by Chile

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Film Focus: How Mismatched England Were Condemned to 2-0 Defeat by Chile
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

England came to Wembley Stadium. Chile came ready to play.

It might have only been a friendly for the Three Lions, but still their 2-0 defeat at home to the hands of the South Americans was, at the least, a big wake-up call.

Many will want to point out here that this was simply a "makeshift" squad from England, which it was, but it must also be noted that the same went for their opponents as well.

Neither had the full complement of players that they would have desired, which made this game more about each team's ability to execute the plans that they had drawn up in preparation for the night, rather than the actual plans themselves.

And while England were good in patches, it was only patches. They often found themselves mismatched against the unity and composure of Chile, and it led to much frustration on and off the field for England.

As Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe put it in his post-match column:

Chile have crafted an "identity"—something every player subscribes to and every player believes in. The same cannot be said for England. It's an issue the nation has carried for some time, but nothing has been done to solve it. 

Let's break down the film and highlight two key aspects in which Chile simply dominated their opponents, and see how they ended up walking away victorious.

 

Chile Trust Their Central Defenders

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Despite conceding an early goal, the truth was that together Phil Jones and Gary Cahill weren't the worst central defensive pairing seen at the back for England.

They weren't world-class, but they did the job.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The problem came for England as the substitutes started to come through—especially in the second half. The arrival of Chris Smalling in the 57th minute disrupted the balance of the Three Lions' back four and, as is so often the case in international games, it led to a lot of confusion across the back.

In the end, that confusion would cost England a goal in the dying minutes.

As the ball is picked up from an error, look at the positioning of England's defence in relation to Chile's attackers. For the most part, they have it covered.

20FHD (via Football Target)

Baines will pick up the central runner; Cahill the wider man and Smalling will drop back either to cover a through ball or shift out on to the left and pick up the overlapping man where Baines would have been.

But fast-forward and there's simply no communication between Cahill and Baines. The Chelsea man decides to try and jump in and snuff out the attack—despite the fact that Baines has him covered relatively effectively—and suddenly Chile are on the attack.

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Smalling is drifting out to the left and there's simply no chance he can get back in time. Even if Sanchez hadn't finished, there was an easy pass to the middle as well if he'd have liked, such was the dominance of the attacking raid and the lack of cohesion across England's back four.

We saw the same to a lesser extent in the first goal. One central defender lets the striker run, trying to win the offside, but another central defender plays him on.

Less than a minute later, the ball is in the back of the net—after being lobbed over a central defender.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Now that's not to say, however, that England's back four are expected to be perfect all the time and that in a friendly match, they have to snuff out every chance against them. However, they are expected to talk and they are expected to be able to trust one another in defence.

Cahill's lack of trust in Baines proved to be the difference and it brings us back to Sam's point earlier about the distinction in identities between the two nations.

Yes, Chile had players missing, but "every one of the 22 players Sampaoli brought to Wembley knew the ins and outs of the formation and playing style."

"Contrast this to the blatant lack of chemistry...and you get the feeling England's familiarity is built upon the wrong foundations," said Bleacher Report's man.

Despite having just three men at the back (and often leaving them exposed), Chile were able to deal with pretty much every attacking raid England threw at them with ease. Adam Lallana's shot just before half-time was one of the closer incidents, but looking again, La Roja handled it perfectly.

As the ball is won in the middle of the field, it's clear that the pressure is on. Rooney and Lallana start to press their outside men and the pass comes in to Rooney.

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With just three at the back and Rodriguez running centrally, you'd expect Chile to break ranks here, but look at their discipline—particularly that of Mauricio Isla. Instead of panicking and picking up the nearest man, he runs back in his line to pick up the wide-running Rooney.

That allows Gonzalez to jump and put pressure on the Manchester United man knowing that behind him, the back three will now still be as tight as before.

He can then pressure Rodriguez, who doesn't get the final pass.

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It's all about trusting at the back and while many will want to point out that "this takes time" and "can't be expected in international games," it simply has to eventually.

Eventually, England's defence has to either come together or there needs to be a recognition that the defence is flawed. It cannot be excused time and time again.

Perhaps this result will stand as a defining fixture in that.

 

Frank Lampard vs. Marcelo Diaz

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Perhaps the other big talking point of the night was Frank Lampard and the disappearing act that he pulled in central midfield—lost without his partner-in-crime in Steven Gerrard, it seems.

The Chelsea man didn't offer anywhere near the same potency in either attack or defence to be considered a true regista, and he was comprehensively shown up by his opponent in Marcelo Diaz, who had one of the better games seen throughout this weekend.

Diaz dropped perfectly in defence and helped dominate in attack.

Completing 56 passes at a game-high 95 percent accuracy, Diaz showed perfectly how to screen the defensive line in either a four-man or three-man defence.

He dropped back enough to allow the midfielders around him to win back possession, then broke them out of their own end. He didn't do the defensive work that a player such as Arturo Vidal might have done in this role, but he had the same effectiveness in attack.

Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

It was a night that Andrea Pirlo would have been proud of.

Plenty of movement, plenty of passing, not a lot of defence.

For Lampard, on the other hand, Chile were able to catch him in between the lines with great effectiveness. They pressed quick attackers on him when he was trying to get set—either dragging him forward or dropping him back—and this put England's entire midfield out of whack.

Half were dropping with Lampard or half were attacking with Lampard.

But neither were doing both at the same time.

In the build-up to the first goal, Lampard was dropping back while his England team-mates pressed forward. The ball was turned over and Lampard then began to drop, but not at the same rate as the defensive line behind him were dropping to cover the cross.

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The space that began to emerge was simply astounding, and while we don't want to take anything away from the strong counter-attack, you've got to wonder whether the same would have happened with Gerrard. Would it have happened with Carrick there, either?

20FHD (via Football Target)

On Friday's performance, it's hard to see Lampard being an instant starter in Brazil—particularly if England are going to try and utilise a 4-3-3 formation more.

Their 4-4-2 formation with Gerrard and Lampard works because the Liverpool man's regista role covers Lampard's inability to drop back and play as a true defensive midfielder. Those defensive frailties were again brought to the forefront for Lampard in this fixture.

 

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