Chile dominated both possession and territory in the first half but only went in at the break with a one goal lead. After half-time England improved considerably and after equalising on 64 minutes the match really opened up, here are five quick observations…
Chile (4-2-3-1): Melo; Campos, Lichnovsky, Robles, Martinez; Fuentes, Huerta; Henriquez, Rabello, Maturana; Castillo
England (4-2-3-1): Johnstone; Stones, Thorpe, Dier, Potts; Ward-Prowse, Coady; Reach, Barkley, Williams; Kane
England change shape slightly
England made three changes to the starting XI that threw away a two goal lead to draw with Iraq. John Stones and Tom Thorpe entered the defence and Adam Reach was brought in on the right wing in place of John Lundstram. England had been more of a 4-1-4-1 in their first match but tonight they were bolder, playing a 4-2-3-1, with Ross Barkley playing higher up and closer to lone striker Harry Kane. James Ward-Prowse partnered captain Conor Coady in midfield but was free to push up. Reach provided good width on the right and Williams again looked lively when he cut inside from the left and got into the same sort of areas as Barkley – meaning England’s best technical players could link-up in attack. Neither Daniel Potts nor Jonathan Stones were particularly attack minded, and both preferred to sit back and make sure they were goal side of Chile’s wingers.
Woeful ball retention
England were happy to let Chile have possession near the half-way line and as a result they naturally sat deeper and deeper in their half, becoming a flat 4-5-1. This allowed Chile to get early confidence on the ball and they soon started to dominate not only possession but also territory. This was mainly because of England’s woeful ball retention – at every opportunity the back four looked to kick the ball long, regardless of who was on the end of it. This meant Chile found regaining possession easy and were able to launch wave after wave of attack with England’s midfield getting no time to take a breather whatsoever.
On the odd occasion England did play through the midfield they actually looked relatively dangerous. Chile looked very vulnerable in wide positions at turnovers, as a result of how far, and how often, their full backs looked to get forward (see diagram) – and better sides than England will expose this if Chile make it through to the knockout stages. Chile’s centre backs were busy marking the hard-working Kane and Barkley was tracked by Chile’s deepest midfielder, meaning there was nobody left to cover the flanks. Chile made up for this though with how accomplished they were going forward – particularly down the right wing with Manchester United’s Angelo Henriquez who was very direct with the ball. On 31 minutes Potts brought down the winger in the box and striker Nicolas Castillo scored the resulting penalty to give Chile the lead.
At half-time Chile had around 60% of possession and were the only side in this match. England’s ball retention was appalling but Barkley and Williams both looked relatively decent in attack on the odd occasion that England didn’t give the ball away needlessly. I’m still not entirely convinced by Coady at the base of midfield though. He doesn’t cover a lot of ground, his passing is very safe and he doesn’t exactly make a lot of tackles or interceptions either. England seemed to have a shortage of both pace and ideas in the final third but this changed on 62 minutes when Williams was replaced by Alex Pritchard. Two minutes after that substitution England equslised through Kane, after Barkley and surged through the midfield before finding his striker on the edge of the box.
Game opens up
England grew into the match after equalising and had plenty of joy out wide through both Pritchard and fellow substitute Larnell Cole who took up the right wing role. Ward-Prowse started to push up more in midfield, with England now a riskier 4-1-4-1, leaving Coady as the only holding player. In the dying stages, Pritchard squandered the best chance of the match after fantastic work by Cole to dig out a cross by the byline. His free header went straight to the goalkeeper whereas had it gone either side, England would have nicked a late winner. With both sides pushing for the three points the game became very open and this meant more space for both sides’ most advanced midfielders (yellow rings in the diagram). Bryan Rabello had more space to drift into and on 86 minutes tried his luck from range and saw his shot rattle the crossbar. At the other end Barkley looked threatening when he picked up the ball in deep areas and drove forward in attack, but neither side could find a winner.
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