Quarter-finals: France – Colombia – Belgium – Costa Rica
World Cup progress: Group stage
Team rating: 4
Top scorer: Rooney, Sturridge (1)
England faced disappointment once again, crashing out of the World Cup at the group stage writes Sam Lewis.
Three Lions still raw
The cries of anguish were heard throughout pubs and living rooms across England as the Three Lions once again were left standing at the footballing altar while more technically proficient and prepared sides headed on to the next stage of the competition.
A positive, vibrant display in the opener against Italy gave England fans and media hope – whispers of a new generation of talented young players driving a nation forward grew louder but once again, it all washed away as a disappointing performance against Uruguay all but ended Roy Hodgson’s England World Cup experience, later confirmed by Italy’s loss to Costa Rica.
Hodgson’s side began the World Cup against Italy with a squad selected almost by public approval, key Liverpool contributors Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and captain Steven Gerrard were given key roles while tournament debuts were handed out in abundance to the likes of Adam Lallana and Ross Barkley, with Ashley Cole and Andy Carroll sitting at home.
At first it worked, Sterling nearly kicked off England’s World Cup in style when a strike from distance that had Italy goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu scrambling across his line only to see it hit the wrong side of the net. But as the tournament wore on, a combination of defensive insecurity and tactical naivety added nails to England’s tournament coffin.
First it was Italy who absorbed English pressure with tournament tested patience, before taking the chances that Wayne Rooney could not. Gary Cahill losing Mario Balotelli as the forward scored the Italian winner was an image that was repeated, before Luis Suarez netted twice in what was ultimately England’s last competitive action of the summer.
Although optimism wasn’t high to begin with, few expected England to be playing their third game in a completely meaningless context against group-topping Costa Rica. Although excitement and vigour was the premium, the ensuing 0-0 draw was perhaps more appropriate of a side that has been little other than gut-wrenchingly frustrating since 1966.
For all the excitement and hope, England were once again par for the course as an overran and unimaginative side were found out by a mixture of conditions, harder working teams and more varied Coaches. The future may be brighter for England’s young players, but 2014 closed the curtain on a generation that promised so much but delivered so little.
The Coach – Roy Hodgson
Took the best and most popular players available, set them up in a hip, new formation and sort of hoped for the best after that. Made the mistake of playing Rooney on the wing in the opener while his side didn’t really display any conceivable identity all tournament. Must do better.
Player of the Tournament – Raheem Sterling
An energetic figure on the wing, Sterling showed the sort of potential England fans will hope blossoms as he matures. Tested defenders at every opportunity, and could be the long-term solution on the right wing, giving England a one-two punch with Theo Walcott on the other.
Memorable moment – Daniel Sturridge’s equaliser vs. Italy
In a game that was largely even, Sturridge swept home a Rooney cross to level up the opening game against Italy, raising English hope and morale.
|24-Jun-14||Costa Rica||0-0||England||Group D|
For a complete review of the 2014 World Cup, check out the next issue of Soccer Italia, written by the team at Football Italia and available on worldwide subscription.