Skip to content

Talking points: England’s World Cup has been a failure, but context is important

Jun 19, 2014, 6:25 PM EDT

An England fan reacts following Uruguay's 2-1 victory over England in the group D World Cup soccer match between Uruguay and England at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) AP

After 180 minutes, England’s knockout round fate is in Italy’s hands, with the Three Lions’ 2-1 loss to Uruguay meaning anything but an Azzurri win on Friday will send the former champions out. Even if the Italians stumble against Costa Rica, there are very few scenarios for Tuesday’s Group D finale that will put England into the knockout round. If bottom lines are your thing, Brazil 2014’s will be an indictment for Roy Hodgson’s squad.

In context, however, the conclusions are so clear. A tough Group D meant one knockout round hopeful was going home early regardless, while two close matches against strong teams meant England’s record only partially reflected its quality on the field. If you’re making a list of things to blame for England’s poor result, put “FIFA ping-pong balls” at the top. Drawn into a number of other groups, England would be going through.

Regardless, after today’s loss, England’s probably down to 90 minutes at this year’s World Cup, and while that will draw the ire of some, there’s no reason to cast too much gloom on mixed if disappointing results. Our three talking points.

[ RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly ]

1. Two days, two groups of death … – Maybe we’re going about this Group of Death-thing all wrong. I’ve harped on the U.S. side of this enough, so no use recycling those thoughts, but given what we’ve seen from Group B (Spain: out) and Group D (England: almost out), we should rethink how we go about this label. Whereas we’ve to slap it on the toughest group, we should start playing to what the term actually means.

There are groups which, because of their draw, will provide a renown team a quick, potentially unfair (in light of the other groups) exit; a death, if you will. On Wednesday, we saw it with Spain, and now we’ve seen it with England, a team that has the quality to get out of five other groups. Two ex-champions, among the world’s most popular teams, are probably going home before the knockout round, given a premature departure because of the depth of their groups.

Instead of acknowledging a single Group of Death, maybe we need to be more liberal with the label. With Chile, the Netherlands, and Spain, Group B was a Group of Death, ending the reign of one of international soccer’s most dominant teams. And Group D, featuring three teams that have final eight quality, will likely send England home before the tournament’s first cut.

As much as England’s tournament is about its shortcomings, it’s also about an extremely tough draw.

source: AP

England’s Wayne Rooney scored his first World Cup goal, but for the second straight match, he and his team fell, 2-1. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

2. … so let’s not be too brazen about England’s failings – What have we learned over the Three Lions’ 180 minutes in Brazil? That they’re not as good as Italy? We already suspected that. Italy showed its quality at Euro 2012. To the extent England can compete against Italy, it’s more about matchups (fast attackers against a slow defense) than the overall quality of the squads.

Did we learn that England’s not as good as Uruguay? Before the tournament started, that was less certain, but La Celeste are reigning South American champions. They also made the semifinals on at South Africa 2010, a depth England hasn’t reached in 24 years. If England’s not up to Uruguay’s standard, it’s certainly nothing to worry about.

Alas, England fans will worry, and it’s hard to blame them. The final result just wasn’t good enough, but when you consider the strength of the Three Lions’ group and the stage this team’s at in its development, the result’s nothing to worry about.

Not only was England competitive against good squads, but better days are ahead for a still maturing core.

3. Can’t say enough about Suárez – Rightfully, people are criticizing the English defense. When a team gives up four goals in two games, some post-mortem is required. Maybe Hodgson should have brought John Terry out of retirement, picked Ashley Cole, and sided with cohesion by playing a mostly Chelsea back line?

To the extent England’s defense failed, it was in moments, not spans. Perhaps the familiarity of three Chelsea players would have solved the problem (even though it didn’t seem to help Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines).

There is, however, another way to look at what happened. After all Uruguay only got two shots on target. Italy, for that matter only had four. It’s not like the Three Lions were giving up a slew of chances. Their failings were isolated, made more dangerous by striking talent few teams have in their squads.

For Italy, it was Mario Balotelli, who put himself in a position that was nearly impossible for Cahill to defend. Against Uruguay, it was Suárez, who showed his Liverpool teammates what it’s like to be on the other side of a match-winning kind of performance. While teams like the Netherlands do have similarly talented strikers, most teams at the World Cup don’t. Again, England’s draw came back to haunt them.

Though England could have done better on Uruguay’s first goal, Suárez deserves credit for pulling off a finish that few would have had the sense or technique convert, and while the second goal was a less forgivable failing, players like Suárez make you pay.

We’re seen plenty of other players blow those types of chances. Suárez did not. As a result, England’s on the brink of going out.

Latest Posts
  1. Big Spenders: Which Premier League clubs must go all-in on transfer deadline day?

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:48 PM EDT

    Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC

    Three Premier League sides have some serious work to do on transfer deadline day. Who needs what?

  2. Top 5 reasons we’ll all miss Harry Redknapp on transfer deadline day

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Harry Redknapp, wheeler-dealer Getty Images

    Harry Redknapp was the ultimate star of transfer deadline day. Tuesday will be a sad, empty day without Harry around.

  3. Done Deals: Recapping Man United (and others’) busy day — De Gea drama; Chicharito out; $56 million for Martial

    Aug 31, 2015, 7:39 PM EDT

    Javier "Chicaharito" Hernandez & David de Gea, Manchester United FC Javier "Chicaharito" Hernandez & David de Gea, Manchester United FC

    Manchester United were the world’s busiest football club on Monday. They, along with others, made headlines ahead of the transfer deadline.

  4. NO DEAL: David de Gea’s transfer to Real Madrid falls through as Man United paperwork arrives too late

    Aug 31, 2015, 6:53 PM EDT

    150831_deGea Getty Images

    Manchester United failed to submit the necessary paperwork before Spain’s transfer deadline, and De Gea will not move to Real Madrid.

  5. MLS Player of the Week — Week 26: New York Red Bulls’ Bradley Wright-Phillips

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:05 PM EDT

    Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls Getty Images

    Two goals, one assist in a 3-0 victory over your club’s most hated rivals — more than enough to win POTW honors.

  6. MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 26

    Aug 31, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT

    Michael Bradley, Toronto FC Michael Bradley, Toronto FC

    Two Bradleys, two from Crew SC and two from the Dynamo — the latest MLS Team of the Week.

  7. Monday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Mahrez to Arsenal, Witsel to Spurs

    Aug 31, 2015, 2:11 PM EDT

    Witsel Getty Images

    Yes, rumors know no season, but the transfer mill will churn out a lot less gossip after Tuesday’s end of the summer transfer season.

  8. Report: De Gea moving to Madrid as Costa Rican hero Navas heads to Old Trafford

    Aug 31, 2015, 1:42 PM EDT

    David de Gea won Manchester United's Player of the Year award in what was likely a landslide. Getty Images

    Manchester United and Real Madrid have swapped goalkeepers, with the Premier League side landing a load of dough, too.

  9. VIDEO: Premier League Team of the Week — Round 4

    Aug 31, 2015, 1:23 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Everton - Premier League Getty Images

    The UEFA Champions League clubs don’t find themselves well-represented in the Premier League Team of the Week after a weekend of shocks around Britain.

  10. Fireworks as transfer deadline passes in Germany: Draxler to Wolfsburg, Januzaj to Dortmund

    Aug 31, 2015, 12:32 PM EDT

    Draxler AP

    We’re still waiting to see whether Javier Hernandez seals his move to Bayer Leverkusen. “Chicharito” has been spotted around Bayer HQ.

  11. VIDEO: Premier League Player of the Week — Round 4

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:23 AM EDT

    Swansea City's Bafetimbi Gomis, left, celebrates scoring his side's second goal beside Manchester United's Luke Shaw during the English Premier League soccer match between Swansea City and Manchester United at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea, Wales, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015.  (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) AP

    The Black Panther is doing more than simply prowling; He is finishing his chances with style.

  12. Miami FC confirms AC Milan, Lazio legend Alessandro Nesta as first manager

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT

    Defender Alessandro Nesta slips on his new jersey after signing with the Montreal Impact soccer team, Friday, July 6, 2012, in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson) AP

    The 2006 World Cup champion will organize Miami FC for co-owner Paolo Maldini during the club’s first season in the NASL.

  13. Premier League Playback: It’s time to change the Transfer Window rules

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:51 AM EDT

    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 23:  John Stones of Everton applauds the fans prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park on August 23, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an in-depth look back at the PL weekend.

  14. Morning news: Jelavic medical for West Ham, ball in Borini’s court after Liverpool accepts bid

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:35 AM EDT

    Jelavic Getty Images

    It looks like we’re headed for a bonkers Transfer Deadline Day on Tuesday, and a trio of Premier League teams might be doing some under-the-radar business on Monday.

  15. Draxler, Pogba, Januzaj headline 10 deals to monitor as we near Transfer Deadline Day

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:33 AM EDT

    Queens Park Rangers v Burnley - Premier League Getty Images

    With the transfer deadline approaching its Tuesday conclusion, deals and rumored deals are hitting the headlines at a head-spinning rate.

  16. Mexico’s Chicharito departs Manchester United; Will he reclaim his form in the Bundesliga?

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT

    Manchester United's Javier Hernandez keeps the ball from Newcastle's Cheik Ismael Tiote during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super) AP

    This Little Pea went to market, reportedly finding a new home in the Bundesliga (And did he really ask for $135k per goal from West Ham?).

  17. Manchester United to add new $56 million striker as Monaco’s Martial leaves France duty

    Aug 31, 2015, 8:10 AM EDT

    VALENCIA, SPAIN - AUGUST 19: Anthony Martial of Monaco looks on during the UEFA Champions League Qualifying Round Play Off First Leg match between Valencia CF and AS Monaco at Mestalla Stadium on August 19, 2015 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The French federation says Martial was given permission to leave camp by Didier Deschamps, and that he’ll sign a contract with United.

  18. MLS Snapshot: New York Red Bulls 3-0 DC United

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls AP

    A complete performance from the Red Bulls, who will finish the season unbeaten against their Atlantic Cup rivals.

  19. Done Deals: De Bruyne joins Manchester City in busy day for Wolfsburg

    Aug 30, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT

    FBL-ENG-GER-ARSENAL-WOLFSBURG-FRIENDLY Getty Images

    Find out what moves have been completed with the transfer deadline approaching, as Wolfsburg made three big deals today.

  20. MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 2-1 Portland Timbers

    Aug 30, 2015, 7:04 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwiwy2q3odk1zwm3ownizgywzdkyota2nwzhymvkmgrl AP

    More than 64,000 supporters packed CenturyLink Field as the Sounders downed the Timbers in a Cascadia Cup clash.

Featured video

MOTD: United's offensive struggles