Before we get into it, let’s start this recap on a high note. England are through to the last 16 of Euro 2016 with a winnable game against Iceland coming up on Monday.
As for high notes, that’s about all there is at the moment. In a game that England dominated possession-wise, we once again, in similarity to the Russia game, lacked creativity and quality in the final third. If we had won, then all would be forgotten, but given the fact we drew with Slovakia, it's hard to look past Roy Hodgson’s six changes he made and think anything other that it was largely his fault that we now sit on the same side of the last 16 as Germany, Italy, Spain and France.
Unsurprisingly Kane and Sterling dropped to the bench for this game, and rightly so. I had predicted that Roy would make a few more changes to give players a rest as well. I was not expecting Walker, Rose, Rooney, and Alli all to be benched though. The risk of England losing the momentum they had picked up against Wales was instantly put under threat by making so many changes, and it well and truly backfired on Roy.
We can say that we dominated, Slovakia were never a threat, or even with 6 changes we should have won. All these things could be true, but in reality, we drew against a poor side, created little and we didn’t need to make that many changes in the first place. Therefore the blame has to sit at Roy’s door.
Hmm. If there was no vested interest in that game you'd have given up on it an hour ago.— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) June 20, 2016
For me, Wilshire, Bertrand and Henderson all performed terribly and had it been Walker, Alli and Rooney on the field instead, we would have won the game. Perhaps we underestimated how much we already rely on certain players in particular. Walker, Rooney and Alli, along with Lallana, have been our stand out players in the tournament so far. Giving one of them a rest would have been fine, but three of them was too much for England to deal with.
A lot of our creativity comes from midfield, mainly from Rooney’s quarterback position and Alli's vision. Replacing them with a very below par Wilshire and Henderson proved our undoing in the end.
Of course, England are still unbeaten and go through to the last 16. The problem this draw causes us is that by finishing second in the group, we now have all 4 of the favourites in our half of the last 16. In terms of the last 16 game, this doesn’t matter too much as England will line up against Iceland on Monday in a game that, if we play our strongest 11, we should win. The problems come after that, where we would no doubt place France in the quarters, and then Italy/Germany/Spain in the semis.
If England really want to win the competition then we of course have to beat the best. But beating 3 of the best in a row is a lot more unlikely than what we would have faced in the other half of the draw, where really only Croatia look really dangerous.