It was all going so well, England dominant, leading through a great Dier free kick, there was little to complain about. Sunday however I woke up with a banging hangover and the bitter disappointment that once again England couldn’t take the 3 points from an opening game at the Euros.
It was a very dominant display from Roy’s men and there was little to complain about up until the 92nd minute, which is why the last minute equaliser from Berezutski and a scoreline of 1-1 is very hard to take. Trying to dissect the goal would be the wrong thing to do. I don’t think anyone in particular was to blame, and it’s one of these goals what you really can’t do much about. He’ll never score a looping header like that again in his career.
As hard as it seems England need to take the positives from Saturday and build on them. There were so many positives as well: England played at a high tempo, crisp passing, plenty of changes in both halves to see the game away.
The only criticism you can place at feet of England's starting 11 is that there were nowhere near clinical enough. We should have been three or four up by the 92nd minute and then Berezutski’s header wouldn't have counted for anything.
Going for the 4-3-3 was no surprise, which means either Kane or Vardy have to be left out, as there is only room for one out and out striker. That's one of the toughest decisions Roy had to make, and last night I think he got it wrong, which in turn added to the ‘not clinical enough’ criticism. Of course Harry Kane is outstanding, and is normally as prolific as Vardy, but against an aging Russian defence you want a player who is going to make a right nuisance of himself, and Vardy fits that bill a lot better than Harry Kane.
One of the key surprises before the game was putting Rooney at left midfield, and I must say I was very skeptical. As far as I’m concerned, he’s had an indifferent season for them lot over in Manchester. Saturday however he put on a passing masterclass and was crucial to everything good that England did. Running back and defending when needed, getting into the box when he could, but mainly it was his passing from the centre of the park that dictated our tempo that impressed me. He performed in a similar way to Pirlo does for the Italians. Of course I’m not saying he did it anywhere near as well as Pirlo does, but it was a similar sort of display.
All in all plenty to take from the first game of the tournament, but England will have to improve in the final 3rd if they want to make a run, especially against the better European teams like Germany and Spain.
Man of the Match – There were several players who stood out for me: the full backs performed well, in particular I really liked Kyle Walker. Lallana looked very lively throughout, as did Dier and Ali. But for me it has to be Wayne Rooney. His passing was excellent and he unlocked the door for us on many occasions... England really just needed someone to of the end to finish it off.
What did you think? Vote in our poll and let us know in the comments. On to Thursday and Wales. Can't wait. #MOT