How the USA stumped England – and why the Americans deserve more credit instead of just blaming Southgate for bore draw | The Sun

GROUP B of the World Cup was blown wide open on Friday, starting with Iran’s surprise 2-0 victory over a lame Wales.

Carlos Queiroz’s men leaped into second place by taking all three points from Rob Page’s side which is a dramatic turnaround after last Monday’s 6-2 thrashing taken at the hands of England.

Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions played nine hours later. All England needed to do was beat the USA to progress into the next round.

However, a goalless draw at the Al Bayt Stadium means that England will need to avoid defeat to Wales in what will be a nervy battle between the two British sides.

If England do lose to Wales, albeit heavily, and the USA beat Iran, Southgate and his players will be taking an early plane home.

Friday night’s draw was a huge, missed opportunity for England to book their place in the knockout phase and on the balance of play, the USA could have easily earned a victory.

Read More World Cup Stories

Maddison RETURNS to full England training, Wales on brink of World Cup EXIT

World Cup – William Hill boost: Germany to beat Spain & Havertz to score NOW 7/1

Total Football Analysis has analysed the game between the two sides across the pond, looking at how Gregg Berhalter stifled England’s attacking prowess.

Similar pressing patterns

The first tactical detail to note is that Southgate and Berhalter both had similar ideas on how to limit each other’s strengths. The game can only be described as a chess match in this sense.

The two managers deployed a 4-3-3 on the field which morphed into a 4-4-2 out of possession.

Each team wants to play out from the back, looking to be patient on the ball before making line-splitting passes into their attacking players between the lines.

Most read in Football


England could face horror World Cup last 16 draw after USA stalemate


Kane misses last-gasp chance as poor Three Lions flop to dire stalemate


England fans all say the same thing as Henderson comes on against USA


All the reaction after dominant USA hold England to draw


England were scintillating at times in their offensive play against Iran, constantly finding players such as Mason Mount, Jude Bellingham and Harry Kane in pockets of space between the Iranian midfield and backline.

However, Iran made this possible by pressing with just one centre-forward in their 5-4-1 low block.

Mehdi Taremi was tasked with applying pressure to both Harry Maguire and John Stones, causing the English centre-backs to pass around him with ease before progressing the ball through the centre of Iran’s defensive block.

On Friday night, the Three Lions were not afforded this luxury due to the USA’s defensive setup.

Whilst holding a 4-3-3 in possession, the USA would shift into a 4-4-2 once England had the ball.

Christian Pulisic became a left midfielder and Weston McKennie pushed across as the right midfielder. Meanwhile, Timothy Weah and Haji Wright moved centrally and become a front two.

Essentially, Berhalter wanted to ensure that England had no way of getting the ball into the feet of Declan Rice or Bellingham behind the frontline which would have allowed them to turn and play forward, acting as the link between defence and attack.

This worked. England really struggled to play through the central areas and couldn’t reach the likes of Mount, Bukayo Saka, Kane and Raheem Sterling in advanced positions due to the USA cutting off access through the middle of the pitch.

There was widespread criticism for England’s attacking players after the goalless draw, but not enough credit has been given to the American setup which denied the English forward line the chance to receive the ball in dangerous areas.

Interestingly enough, Southgate had the same idea in mind.

Pulisic, McKennie, Weah and Wright always look to get the ball between the lines and create dangerous opportunities and so the key for England was to protect the middle of their defensive structure, keeping a compact shape so that the American side couldn’t find their attacking stars.

Likewise with the USA, England’s 4-3-3 morphed into a 4-4-2 out of possession but instead of one winger dropping back into the midfield and the other becoming a centre-forward, both wingers would push back, and a midfielder would step up.

Just as their opponents did, the front two would press the centre-backs while blocking the passing lanes into the USA midfielders. Saka and Sterling would then press the American full-backs.

The approach was almost identical from both sides and the xG was really low for this match with England registering just 0.54 to the USA’s 0.61.

Using the wide areas

What do you do when the centre of the park is closed off? It’s quite simple. Teams play the ball out wide and look to build their attacks down the flanks.

The issue with this is that going down the sides is far less effective than creating chances through the middle, hence why teams such as England and the USA want to pass it to their attackers between the lines as they have the technical ability to play in congested spaces.

On top of this, opportunities that are created on the flanks have a much lower conversion percentage than those through the middle.

This is why teams like Manchester City and Arsenal always want to work their way into the box rather than crossing the ball in the hopes that somebody will eventually knock it home.

However, if the space is completely blocked off, going wide is the only other alternative. England created some decent chances in the first half by using quick combination play out wide, but the crosses were either cleared away or the player in the penalty area missed.

Again, keeping on the theme of similar tactical approaches, the USA found solace on the wings too. England were defensively sound and so Berhalter’s men were unable to play through them centrally.

This left the USA with the only other option which was to try and play crosses into the penalty box in the hope that one of their attacking players would put the ball into the back of the net, but it simply wasn’t to be.

There was one chance in particular near the half-hour mark where Timothy Weah’s cross trickled through England’s defence and found McKennie standing free in the box, but the Juventus man blazed it over the bar.

Attacking transitions

The USA looked far more dangerous in transition than their opponents on the night.

When England were sitting deep and regained possession, Southgate wanted his players to be rapid on the break, looking to hit the Americans on the flanks as they always pushed both of their full-backs high up the pitch into the final third.

Unfortunately, England’s counter-attacks were anything but rapid and effective. Lethargic and misdirected would be better words to describe their transitions from defence to attack.

The USA, on the other hand, looked quite dangerous. The attacking duo of Wright and Weah would instantly split wide, making runs into the channels between England’s full-backs and central defenders.

Weah, in particular, looked menacing when running down the side of Maguire. To the Manchester United skipper’s credit, he dealt with the threat quite well alongside the help of his Old Trafford team-mate Luke Shaw who put in a fine defensive shift.

Nonetheless, the instructions from Berhalter were to win the ball back and look to hit one of the centre-forwards in behind.

Sadly for their Americans, despite looking more dangerous than England when counter-attacking, they couldn’t convert their opportunities when they arose.

So what does this all mean?

Both teams will be disappointed with the result, although from a neutral perspective it has teed up a very tasty looking final round of the group phase where all four teams will be vying for the top two places to progress into the knockout phase.

England are still the favourites to top the group providing they don’t lose to Wales on the final day, but the Welsh will be desperate to get one over on their British compatriots while staking their own claim to reach the knockout rounds for the first time in 64 years, providing Iran draw with the US.

Regarding the USA, Berhalter and his men will be hopeful they can get the job done against Iran but will be leaning on the hope that England also come out on top.

Now, it’s all to play for the on the final day.

For even more detailed analysis of England and all teams in the Fifa World Cup 2022, you can download your copy of the November Total Football Analysis magazine here

Source: Read Full Article