England 1-2 Iceland: 3 observations from Brexit 2.0

England 1-2 Iceland
England 1-2 Iceland

It’s been quite the week for England. On Thursday, the country voted to leave the European Union. Considering the polls before the referendum, that result was shocking enough. But, at least half the population got what they want.

What happened yesterday night though, was beyond anyone’s imagination. England exited Europe for the second time in a week, this time getting eliminated from Euro 2016 in France. The Three Lions were said to have the easy route to the quarter-finals when pitted against competition debutants Iceland, but Roy Hodgson’s men somehow managed to mess this up as well.

Here are 3 of the biggest observations from this incredible result, one that will down in the annals of history of both countries.

1) A team will always beat a bunch of individuals

In both games yesterday, we saw a well-drilled unit get the better of teams with superior individual talent. In the first quarter-final, Italy beat Spain 2-0 to set up a quarter-final meeting with Germany.

It’s the second game though, that everyone will be talking about for a long time to come. England were mighty favourites going into the game, and seemed to be in for a comfortable night when Wayne Rooney blasted home a penalty in the 5th minute. But, they got a bit too comfortable for their own good and Iceland struck right in the very next minute. Lars Lagerback’s men have been a constant threat from long throw-ins, and a flick on was volleyed home from close-range by Ragnar Sigurdsson, after Kyle Walker lost his man.

In the 18th minute, the unthinkable happened. The English backline simply backed off, and the Iceland team put together a fantastic passing move. The ball found its way to Kolbeinn Sigthorsonn on the edge of the area, and the Nantes striker’s low effort squirmed past Joe Hart. The England goalkeeper had his head in his hands, as did 60 million Englishmen around the world.

This is how the scoreline remained for the rest of the game, with England clearly panicking and failing to create anything of note.


2) Roy Hodgson bottles it tactically and quits while top players flop

This is being labelled the worst performance and result in the history of the English national football team and it’s not too difficult to see why. Usually, when they falter, it’s against one of the stronger teams in the competition. An inquisition then follows as to what they need to do to reach that level. This time, it’s a completely different story altogether.

Hodgson decided to go with a 4-3-3 formation, with Daniel Sturridge, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling starting up front. Quite frankly, it didn’t work. Kane had a shocker of an outing, while captain Wayne Rooney was dismal as well. In the end, when time was running out, all the tactics went out of the window and Hodgson threw on all the four strikers he’d taken with him to France on the pitch. Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford were introduced, but there was a very tangible unorganisation about England, and they clearly didn’t know how to go about chasing the game.

In the post-match press conference, Hodgson announced his resignation. The speech seemed abnormally long and well-prepared. We’ll never know if it was written before-hand, but the thought leaves an extremely sour taste in the mouth.

3) A salute to Iceland

Amidst all this criticism for England, it’s easy to forget the achievement of Iceland. For a country with a population of 323,000, what the football team has achieved is just incredible. They beat the Netherlands home and away in their qualifying campaign, finished ahead of Portugal in their group and have now beaten England. They’re still unbeaten in the tournament going into their quarter-final against France on Friday. The hosts have been unconvincing and jittery thus far, but will surely be massive favourites going into this one. But Iceland have proven that a country coming together can work wonders against opposition who are miles ahead in terms of ability.

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