Chelsea blueprint can help England says Lampard
Frank Lampard believes England can learn from Chelsea's Champions League duels with Barcelona as they prepare for the daunting task of tackling world champions Spain at Wembley on Saturday.sports Updated: Nov 12, 2011 07:46 IST
Frank Lampard believes England can learn from Chelsea's Champions League duels with Barcelona as they prepare for the daunting task of tackling world champions Spain at Wembley on Saturday.
Lampard has faced Barcelona eight times since joining Chelsea from West Ham a decade ago, and is only too aware of the dangers of allowing free rein to Spain's midfield pass-masters Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.
The 33-year-old, who will captain England against the Spanish on Saturday, believes England should not fall into the trap of trying to emulate their opponents' Barcelona-influenced passing game.
Lampard -- whose record against Barcelona as a player is won two, lost two, drawn four -- believes England could profit by attempting to play on the counter-attack.
"(At Chelsea) we'd seen Barcelona play a lot of teams who (a) tried to play their style against them, which is pretty much impossible because they are the best at it and (b) try to press them right up the pitch and win the ball back," he said.
"So we kind of stayed in the middle of the pitch and let them come to us. We worked our socks off to get tight and when we won the ball we counter-attacked them."
Lampard also believes England can take encouragement from Scotland's recent 3-1 defeat against the Spanish last month while acknowledging that tackling the world champions is "the most difficult job in football at the minute."
"I think it's a case of trying to close them down as well as you can and not allow them to completely dominate games like Spain and Barcelona do so often.
"You have to try and believe in ourselves and see some weaknesses in them. If we can win the ball back off them and get our front men away, we've got pace in our team.
"I watched them play Scotland and they pretty much dominated -- but Scotland were creating chances occasionally against them.
"I think with the ability we've got in our team on the counter-attack we have to be bolder."
Nevertheless Lampard is under no illusions about the difficult of the task ahead of England on Saturday.
"We're very respectful of what we're playing against," he said. "We're playing probably the best international team in many a year, since I can remember. I don't think anyone's matched the levels they've got to.
"We have to have a mixture of being aware of that and trying to show what we can do against that. No-one's saying that we're on the level of Spain -- in the last four to six years they've been on a different level to everyone
"But it's a good opportunity for us to show in one game what we might be capable of and then we need to build on that."
Lampard is also relishing the opportunity to pit his wits against Xavi once more, who he regards as the key figure in Spain's all-star midfield.
"Iniesta's a fantastic player and it's hard to split those two up. But Xavi is the centre, the pinnacle of their team," Lampard said.
"I've played against them both countless times through the years. Xavi's ability and awareness and touch on the ball is something special. He's one of the all-time greats."
Lampard meanwhile is also looking forward to winning his 90th cap only two months after many had written the obituary for his international career after he was dropped for the games against Bulgaria and Montenegro.
"Once you become over 30 years old people look at you in a different way," Lampard said. "That's the norm. You have to come to terms with that yourself probably and just use it as a push on for myself to try and show people that I can still do what I'm doing and hopefully for a long time."