Over-rated, over-valued or magnified, no matter how you rate this English team they have gone into this tournament with no expectations at all from inside, or from outside their country. Before his opening match with England, Pirlo exclaimed that the English are over-rated as always. In a view that has also been expressed by the current Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola, English players have always been under scrutiny in big tournaments. As the current English side draws no comparison with the golden age of Beckham, Gerrard and Lampard, expectations have been downplayed, if there were any in the first place after their defeat to Italy.
Featuring a young and energetic side, Roy Hodgson wanted to avoid the criticism of his predecessors by playing the big fish. His experiment nearly paid off, as this was the one of the finest English performances against the big sides. Whilst they looked and proved lethal applying that counter attacking and through-ball play, their defence let them down as the inexperienced Leighton Baines was at fault. In what was his first ever match in a big tournament, let alone a world cup, the Everton man failed to duplicate his domestic form on the international stage. As a result England were bettered in Manaus.
Having an attacking trinity of Welbeck, Sturridge and Rooney up-front, England were destined to give the opposition defenders a headache, and had Rooney not missed his chance, just inside the opposition penalty area, this headache might have become malignant instead of benign. On the other hand, the Italians were led by a spearhead in Mario Balotelli, who enjoyed a successful season amid racist controversies at the San Siro. Here is the comparison of the two main men, Sturridge and Balotelli.
So as the stats mentioned above suggest, the English main man is in no means held back when it comes to comparison with the Italian. He is leading all the aspects, so when it comes to performance on the pitch the Englishman is not over-rated and probably is under-rated given the talk that is there on Balotelli and his theatrics.
It had to come, as both are the star men of their generation, so Andrea Pirlo and Steven Gerrard probably met for the last time on the World Cup stage. Pirlo, who is 35, is expected to say good-bye to an illustrious international career, which included a World Cup triumph, contributed to defeating the English team one last time as it was his mesmerising assist for the first goal, even without touching the ball, that started the show for the Italian team. Gerrard has a quiet night as he was just held back. Here is the comparison of the two legends.
As Pirlo enjoyed a relatively successful season with the Old Lady (Juventus) by securing yet another Serie A title; Gerrard enjoyed a purple patch as well, as his performances ensured Liverpool were in the title race until the final day. While Pirlo enjoyed a title winning season, Steven Gerrard was left frustrated once again. So maybe it is the Italian that leads the race here but only on a collective level and certainly not on an individual basis.
Roy Hodgson reiterated his desire of not trying a gung-ho style, as he tried to play down his team’s comparison with the Liverpool side that scored not only a century of goals, but also conceded fifty. This comparison was obvious in the match as English defence was anything but promising, they allowed too much space for Pirlo and Co who played with ease. Baines was left alone often as Rooney, who was deployed on the left hand side, failed to provide cover to the Everton man. As a result, a flurry of attacks came from his side. Here is the comparison of both the left-backs.
Although Chiellini started the whole season for Juventus in a centre-back role, Cesar Prandelli opted for a left-back role for the Juventus man. He was tested many times as the Liverpool man Raheem Sterling took him to the cleaners. However, there was no damage done. On the contrary, Leighton Baines left a huge gap and was the sole reason for Italy’s second goal as Candreva went past him in what seemed to be a school boy error from the Everton man.
No matter where the English team end up in this tournament, this English side has been the least over-rated compared to their predecessors, as the famous Spanish journalist exclaimed England’s counter attack as ‘’One of the big dangers of this World Cup’’. So whether the boys go out at the group stage or they survive the group of death, they should be welcomed as their performance against the Italians is the best England have managed in years.