England’s second friendly at Wembley against a top ranked team saw a second nil, nil draw, though this one against Brazil was somewhat different from that against Germany.
Against Germany, England attacked… occasionally. Against Brazil, England defended… and for the most part that defence held up pretty well. Brazil fielded their strongest side, possibly the one they’d start if the World Cup was on tomorrow, unlike the Germans.
Unlike the German game, Glenn Hoddle got the man of the match correct. It should have been Pickford previously it could only be Gomez this time. He put in a centre back display that looked completely out of place from a Liverpool defender.
Most of the Brazil attacks came down his side of the back three, so not only did he have to do his job he had to cover for his wingback, Southgate choosing to give Walker a go. If you’re not going to get forward there’s no point in Walker, in fact even if you are going forward there’s no point. As shown the very few times he did venture across the halfway line he did his usual routine of stopping, stepping back, slowing everything up, allowing the defence to get in place, before delivering a useless ball. The one time he did something at pace nobody was expecting it, so nothing came of it.
The only real attacking outlet for England was Rashford. Vardy had the odd chance at a break but tried to pass the ball off every time, which he failed to do, every time. Vardy is better being the further forward of the front pair, then he just has a goal to run at and nothing else to occupy his thoughts.
Things going forward weren’t helped by Livermore and sadly Dier. I don’t know, I’ve really rather disappointed in Dier over these last two games. He seemed to shrink with the armband. So many back and sideways passes, far too many of them. Yes he did his defensive duties and isn’t helped by having Livermore beside him, but he’s so much better a player than he showed here. Maybe he was just pining too much for Dele.
So the defence defended well. Stones looks better in a three and without Cahill or Smalling next to him. Gomez came in during the last game and played the whole of this one and didn’t look out of place, while Maguire looks capable. Behind them for some reason Hart was in goal. Apparently Southgate doesn’t know what Hart can do, that can be the only reason for his inclusion. Yes he made a couple of saves but wasn’t really tested that much but again showed why he’s a liability, especially if Southgate sticks with this stupid playing out from the back ploy.
Hart is no good with the ball at his feet, hell he’s even useless at goal kicks, damn near every one of them ends up a throw in for the opposition down their right. Give Pickford another game, see if he can do it two games in a row and that it’s not just a one off. If Hart isn’t fit for the World Cup then Pickford will have to play back to back games like this, ones with the pressure on.
But no matter how better Southgate managed over this international break, that’s still the rub. Can he be trusted to do teh right thing and not just fall back on the old failures like Hart and Henderson, Cahill and Smalling?
He was gifted this opportunity, here’s hoping he doesn’t screw it up.