Within the first 2 minutes, England had gotten off to the worst possible start – A knee injury to Michael Owen that saw him crumple into a heap at the touchline after passing the ball and subsequently crawling across the line before medics arrived and stretchered him off. Peter Crouch replaced him, Eriksson clearly not in the mood to gamble by bringing on Walcott.
The next 10 minutes saw Sweden clamber all over England, before calmness ensued and slowly, Cole, Beckham and Ferdinand took control of the game. Fedinand has been imperious at the back – his tackle to block off Ljunberg bringing back memories of a certain United-Arsenal clash. Beckham has been his usual probing self, his crosses maybe not top-notch but the passes and long balls have been excellent (including one 50-60 yard ball to Rooney that landed perfectly on his foot).
Owen might be out of the World Cup
And Cole…brilliant Joe Cole. In the 34th minute, Cole brought down a looping square ball on his chest and lashed it towards the goal – the ball beating the keeper and into the goal. Wonderful goal, I hope to get a video of it and show it to you guys very soon.
Joe Cole and Beckham celebrate England’s first goal
The most encouraging thing has been how well Ashley Cole and Joe Cole have played. These two have been a constant nuisance to Sweden, and unless something is done to stop them Joe Cole looks set to score another or at least create another goal.
Lampard has been wasteful – no better way to describe a player who has had 11 shots in the last 135 minutes of football and has yet to score.
One worrying thing for England – despite this being their best performance in the World Cup so far – is the tendency to take long shots. After playing so patiently in the build up, England have to stay patient and prise through a goal (or count on Rooney to squirm through and put one in.
Half time – with Sweden not being able to handle pace, this is the perfect time to move Beckham into the center of midfield and bring Lennon on. That way England will have pace on both flanks and Beckham’s crosses and passes to count on. You really can’t sub anyone out, except maybe Crouch.
Match has started – no changes to either team yet. Let’s see how this turns out.
[tags]England, Joe Cole, Sweden, World Cup, World Cup 2006, Michael Owen[/tags]