Despite stealing a 1-1 draw with tournament favourites last night, the England under 21’s performance was very unconvincing.
While Spain opened the scoring with a controversial goal that saw them commit two fouls concluding with Ander Herrera knocking the ball home with his hand.
After that, Spain dominated possession but rarely threatened Frank Fielding’s goal. A few occasions that Spain came close to getting themselves in goalscoring opportunities saw Chris Smalling making a last-ditch tackle during a man of the match performance.
It was Smalling whom dribbled the ball forward in the last two minutes before releasing Kyle Walker down the right wing, whom cut inside and passed the ball to Danny Welbeck. Welback admittedly was in an offside position, but coolly finished as the flag stayed down.
Spain had 64% of the possession; something that is already a trait for their senior national team, and domestic league Champions, Barcelona.
After the game, Stuart Pearce claimed his defence were under control and came out with the following ludicrous quotation;
“I think if we turned the tables around and we had as much possession as they did, I think we’d have won the game 4-0.”
I don’t understand what was going through Stuart Pearce’s mind when he made that statement. His England side failed to maintain possession and in truth, looked uncomfortable with the ball at their feet. There were several passes amongst goalkeeper Frank Fielding and his defenders; notably Manchester United’s new big money signing, Phil Jones. Captain Michael Mancienne, playing in midfield was very unambitious; often playing the ball back to his side’s defence.
But for a great one-handed save from David de Gea in first half stoppage time, England barely threatened the Spanish goal.
England had a lot of pace out wide, with right back Kyle Walker looking like the biggest threat. Danny Rose showed glimpses of skill, but his deliveries were lacking. England were fortunate to come away with a point, Welbeck himself could have received a second yellow card earlier in the match. A correct decision from the referee’s assistant would have seen him raise his flag.
Stuart Pearce said his side will learn and grow from this game. That is a minimum if this side want to go far in this tournament, and help the national side later in their careers. Spain themselves were not at their best.