England 2-1 Japan: Jammy England ride Japanese assault

30th May 2010 | World Cup Betting category: Football World Cup News
Football World Cup News

Goals: Tulio (Own Goal), Y. Nakawaza (Own Goal)(England); Tulio (Japan)

World-Cup-Betting Man of the Match: Aaron Lennon


What with England despatching off a dangerous Mexico side earlier in the week, and Japan slumping to a bitter defeat to fellow Asian’s South Korea, everyone was expecting a more accomplished display from the Three Lions and Japan to crumble under some English authorative pressure. How far from the case it was, as the Samurai Blue provided a miserable looking Fabio Capello on the touchline with a much sterner test that many anticipated before kick-off in Austria.


From an England perspective, the game didn’t get off to a too bad a start, with Capello’s men comfortable in possession and going about their business in a calm and collective manner. However, with seven minutes gone and the Japanese preparing to take their first meaningful set-piece of the game, Brazilian born defender Tulio strolled forward into the England penalty area and walloped in a shock opener. Thereafter, England appeared shell-shocked, drained of any self-belief or inner confidence. Passes were going astray left, right and centre – Wayne Rooney in particular lacklustre and lazy when in possession – while their forward play was atrocious. Only an Aaron Lennon one-on-one miss was conjured from Capello’s England in the opening 45 minutes in a half which left England fans a tad bemused.

In fairness, Japan were deserving of their lead despite creating little in front of goal after their early strike. Japan coach Takeshi Okada will have been delighted with the way his team approach the game and played through the first period, harassing every single player in a red shirt when they had possession whilst remaining lively and bright in possession. 


With a 45 minute period to forget briefly analysed and put to one side for now, Capello wasted little time going to town on his underachievers at the break when hauling five players off the field and unelashing five fresh faces onto the pitch in a bid to spark some life into his lethargic Lions. Joe Hart replaced David James, Theo Walcott’s disappointing day was summed up when he was replaced by Shaun Wright-Philips, while Steven Gerrard’s introduction in place of Tim Huddlestone was an obvious move and one which evidentially sparked the England team into life for the second period. Jamie Carragher was also brought on for Glen Johnson and a forlorn and seemingly now packing his bags Darren Bent, seen his South Africa tenure swiped from under his feet as Joe Cole replaced him at the break.

The second period, as was to be expected, was better for England, with the tempo much faster and the passing a lot crisper. The introduction of Steven Gerrard proved a master-stroke even if it was a simple and obvious substitution to make, as Gerrard took the game by the scruff of the neck playing deep in centre-midfield; commanding possession whenever possible and shipping the ball to either flank in a precision like fashion. Finally some imagination from an England side which lacked endeavour and creative flair in the first half, and Gerrard’s emergence was amply accompanied by a lively and eager to impress Joe Cole, whose bright runs down the right caused the Japan full-back all sorts of problems. It just so happened to be Joe Cole who was at the centre of England’s leveller, when his marauding run was headed into the Japan goal by Japanese defender Tulio, who had gone from hero to zero with his own goal. England’s winner, something even we were unsure we would say midway through the second half, came via another own goal when veteran defender Yuji Nakawaza sliced home England’s second.


It was yet another game were England didn’t play at all well but managed to ride the storm to record an undeserving victory. It was also the second friendly tester which didn’t provide too many answers to the many questions circulating other than Gareth Barry’s injury is more of a concern than we previously calculated. Gerrard certainly filled his void with flying colours in the second half, but Gerrard in a deeper position nullifies his threat in the final third of the pitch, something Capello is desperate to avoid. Another worry was the formation, as in the first half the 4-4-2 Capello opted for didn’t bare fruit. In fact, England were lifeless, unimaginative and utterly clueless despite having an abundance of pace down the wings and two primarily forward-thinking goal-getters in Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard. Joe Cole played off Rooney in the second half and it worked a treat as it enabled Gerrard and Lampard to get on the ball more and dictate play rather than plat the role of spectators. Opportunities were being carved out with more ease and understanding without England really racing through the energy levels a great deal, while Rooney clearly felt more comfortable and confident having a player with flair and that creative spark beside him rather than some lanky giant or bulky Heskey standing over him, slowing him down.


After the game in a post-match interview, Fabio Capello stated that he knew who was in his final 23 although wouldn’t comment on those missing the cut. However, we have a pretty good idea, after watching two two England displays against Mexico and Japan, as to who will miss their flight to South Africa: Michael Dawson, Tom Huddlestone, Scott Parker, Darren Bent, Matthew Upson, Stephen Warnock and Theo Walcott.

On June the 1st, Fabio Capello will announce to the world who has made the final 23-man England team and who failed to take their chance when it came. Michael Dawson, Scott Parker and Stephen Warnock can all feel harddone by as neither were given a run-out in either friendly, although Warnock has been suffering with an injury. Walcott, though, while it may seem a surprise cut, was useless in both encounters and his indecision has ultimately made up Capello’s decision to cut him loose, from the squad that is. We could be wrong, we’ll find out though in a couple of days.

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