Roy Hodgson may be right that England’s dominant performances at Euro 2016 mean they’re due a big win any day now, but he must be hoping it’s soon because the next game could be their last.
England have had more attempts than any other team at the tournament and that is very encouraging but, as we saw in Monday’s 0-0 draw with Slovakia, their conversion rate is among the worst.
Overall, I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Hodgson’s team but they are not scoring – that’s all that’s missing. They have variety in their play but sometimes you need someone to just scuff one in.
Against Slovakia Jamie Vardy showed why he had been picked with a typical sprint to dart clear, only to see his shot saved. Daniel Sturridge wasted a great opportunity from Eric Dier’s chip, while Jordan Henderson’s volley was good but cannoned off a defender’s head.
My only criticism was that, aside from a couple of Nathaniel Clyne bursts, England didn’t get to the byeline enough. Other than the full-backs, Raheem Sterling is the only player in the squad used to doing that, and he is bereft of confidence.
Why copy Wales could help England
They’re dominating possession but perhaps they could being a little cuter around the penalty area and trying to play through-balls earlier. Russia may have been terrible but Wales came up with lots of quality balls in front of the Russian goal in their 3-0 win; I want to see more of that from the likes of Wayne Rooney, Jack Wilshere and Adam Lallana.
England aren’t winning many free-kicks around the box, which tells you they aren’t getting into those areas enough. Set-pieces have been poor too and I’d like to see more invention on that front.
That said, I think England are in a decent position for the last 16. Lots of players have had game time, some have been rested, and Portugal are the only one of the four possible opponents you’d be keen to avoid.
Whoever they face next, Hodgson ought to stick with the same tactics. You don’t want to interfere with that at this stage, and teams do play better when they’re more familiar with a system.
His only question selection-wise is probably which two to choose from Harry Kane, Sturridge and Vardy, and is may depend on who England get – although my view is that it doesn’t matter too much.