Expectations of England

20180707o 30 England Sweden Gdn 3000 aa0150h 20180707o 58 England Sweden Gdn 2962 aa0150hSo now England expects. A 2-goal win (the second from a 2 minute passage of possession) and a clean sheet (with the newish goalkeeper making 3 excellent saves).
Soon the pundits were talking about the final.

England have built nicely. Unbeaten for a year.
A recent switch to 3-5-2, built 3 strong central defenders and 2 very attacking wing-backs.
Using younger players with previous success that Southgate knows well.
The genius of Kane. Special use of set-plays, using aerial dominance.
Picking a team, using good players with special abilities – Young and Trippier’s crossing, Stones and Maguire’s heading, Sterling’s dribbling, Lingard’s running. A goalkeeper who’s better at passing the ball out.

So thank heavens for the scepticism of Irish television pundits and Guardian writers; and probably, Gareth Southgate himself.
The passing can still be woeful. The ball is still bouncing off players. Build-ups towards goal can peter out very easily. Returning to saves being punched out rather than away.

So why the new confidence? Cos we know more of our players than theirs. Cos we know our players are better (e.g. rated as worth more – seven times Sweden’s, twice Croatia’s). Cos we’ve won 4 matches and a penalty shoot-out. Cos the 4 wins came against sides who were happier to sit back. Cos the media are pumping us up.

And cos we can all see England can continue to grow

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