New-look side, Rooney’s decline: 5 points from England’s Euro 2016 opener

  • Govindan Kishwar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 12, 2016 11:21 IST
England's Adam Lallana (centre) was guilty of missing two clear chances as his team were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw against Russia in their Group B opener. (AFP)

England drew 1-1 against Russia on Saturday in their Euro 2016 opener after a late header from Vasili Berezutski denied the Three Lions all three points.

Here’s a look at five key points from the performance of Roy Hodgson’s men:

New-look England

Despite the draw, England’s faith on the young guns seems to have paid off, with Eric Dier scoring for England. (REUTERS)

Had someone watched the 2012 Euros, or even the 2014 World Cup, then lived under a rock, woken up in 2016 and tuned into one of England’s matches, they could be forgiven for thinking they had been hibernating for decades. The Three Lions have finally moved on from the ‘Golden Generation’ of the likes of Frank Lampard, John Terry and Steven Gerrard. The shift may have come half a decade too late, but most will be glad it has, regardless of how the team do at the ongoing Euros.

Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad has an average age of just 25 years, nine months and 26 days, the youngest team selected for the showpiece in France. At 30, captain Wayne Rooney is the oldest player in the team.

Creative intent

Adam Lallana missed a crucial chance to double England’s lead. (AP)

One of the biggest changes as a result of this new-look side is that the team is a lot more creative. Ten of the 23 in the squad are players from Tottenham and Liverpool, two Premier League teams that are made to play creative football by their managers.

Six of those started on Saturday against Russia, and had it not been for a lack of experience, England could have led comfortably by two or three goals by half-time, with Adam Lallana chiefly to blame, missing two glorious chances early in the match. As the team accumulate the minutes in France, they could become more clinical in front of goal, but against the Russians it cost them two points.

Sterling brings nothing to the team

Sterling’s decision-making was poor, to say the least. (REUTERS)

One wonders if Raheem Sterling would have been on the flight to France had it not been for the club jersey he wears or his £50 million price tag. The winger brought nothing to the team, and was wasteful in possession. Much like he does for Manchester City, the 21-year-old’s decision-making cost the team, with the player trying some elaborate skill or taking a poor shot when he would have been better off passing. When he did pass, they were poor.

Rooney brings stability, but disappoints

England captain Wayne Rooney has been moved to a deeper role in midfield. (REUTERS)

From losing his pace, to not being the lethal finisher he once was, decline has well and truly set in for Wayne Rooney. The player will be 31 in October, and is understandably being utilised much deeper in the park.

What never seems to fail him though is his passing, and the skipper calmed things down when his team needed him to. That was all he did, however, failing to threaten the Russian defence with any incisive passes, instead opting to play long cross-field balls to teammates who in turn did nothing with it.

Eric Dier will be key

Eric Dier (right) gave England the lead against Russia with a superbly taken free kick in the 73rd minute. (AFP)

England have never won their opening game in the Uefa European Championship, and when Eric Dier scored from a brilliant free kick in the 73rd, fans must have hoped that maybe they would finally break the jinx.

It was not to be.

Vasili Berezutski’s goal late in stoppage time means two points lost, and makes the next two games must-wins for England if they want to keep progression in their own hands. Should they make it to the knockouts, Dier will be key.

The 22-year-old Tottenham midfielder’s versatility means he is capable of playing across the backline, and as a deep-lying midfielder. Good on the tackle, and as seen on Saturday good with his shooting boots too, England fans can rest easy knowing they have him for years to come.


Euro 2016: Late goal helps Russia snatch 1-1 draw against England

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