Monday, July 03, 2006

England 0-0 Portugal (Portugal 3-1 on penalties)

So, Wayne Rooney gets red-carded, England lose on penalties and go out in the quarter-finals.

In other news, the sky is blue.

First of all, I hereby apologize to Owen Hargreaves for constantly slagging him off (in my own defence, he's generally been terrible in an England shirt). I don't know if he was inspired because it was Canada Day or what, but he was fantastic against Portugal. They say that you usually don't notice the defensive midfielder if he's doing his job properly, just because of the nature of the position, but you definitely noticed Hargreaves in this match, because he was all over the pitch, working his ass off. He even scored his penalty shot.

As for that red card against Wayne Rooney: it was bullshit. Apparently Sven has confirmed that the card was for stepping on Ricardo Carvalho, rather than pushing Ronaldo, which makes me slightly less indignant (because if Figo can head-butt someone and only get a yellow card...). I still think it was a bad call, though, because it looked to me like it was an accident. (You can see the video here; judge for yourself.) I suspect that Rooney wasn't as careful as he might have been about where he put his foot down, but it didn't look like he was deliberately trying to injure Carvalho. It's too bad that it wasn't Cristiano Ronaldo he stepped on instead, though -- because there wouldn't have been any injury, since Ronaldo is so clearly a girl.

So yeah, that sucked, but I don't think it lost England the game. I thought they were the better team, even (or especially) after they went down to 10 men. Of course it would have been easier if they'd had a full team, but what really hurt them were two things:

  1. Their lack of creativity up front. England had lots of possession, but couldn't seem to do anything in the final third of the pitch. In hindsight -- and with Frank Lampard continuing to be a big black hole of suck -- I would've gone back to 4-4-2 instead of 4-5-1. Drop Lampard, put Peter Crouch up front with Rooney, and use your wings instead of clogging up the centre of the pitch. Really, what it comes down to is playing to your strengths, rather than just trying to neutralize the other team.

  2. Their continued inability to take penalties. I'm sure they were practicing penalties in training, but clearly not enough. Here's a tip, guys: you're supposed to take lessons from the Germans...not the Swiss. Also: Jamie Carragher, penalty specialist. WTF?

And as a final note, David Beckham has resigned as England captain. I don't think he was a great captain, but nevertheless it's a little sad. (Damn you, Becks, you actually made me like you!) John Terry seems to be the current favourite to replace him, but personally I'd prefer Steven Gerrard. You could argue that Gerrard, unlike Terry, hasn't performed well enough in an England shirt, but I think that giving him the captain's armband might be the way to finally get him to play for England like he does for Liverpool. Not to mention the fact that he's slightly less likely to cry on the pitch.


ynba said...

Slightly? Hrmph. Steven just does the sitting-on-the-pitch thing.

footie girl said...

See, I think he might've been crying, but he has the sense not to let people *see* him. Plus he knows that Carra would make fun of him.

sporty muslimah said...

Gutted :(