England and Brazil played to a 2-2 draw at the famed and renovated Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janiero. Although both goals scored by England were a result of counter attacks, the fundamental issue with England under Roy Hodgson will still be an issue and one of concern going forward.
Unlike the 4-4-2 formation that England played with on Wednesday against Ireland, it came out playing a 4-5-1 formation with Theo Walcott playing a wing position as opposed to a central forward formation expected by many. James Milner played the other wing, and the plan to pack the midfield once again proved that Hodgson was going to play it safe.
This cautious strategy was not as effective as the 0-0 halftime scoreline would indicate as Brazil were able to get in behind England several times with Joe Hart having to make incredible saves on a couple of occasions to prevent a goal from being scored. While the formation failed to stop what Hodgson hoped it would defensively, England once again failed to create any real scoring chances as a result of a lack of offensive flexibility in their tactical gameplan.
In the second half, Brazil was able to continue to exploit and get behind the England defense on several occasions as the first goal they scored was a result of beating a fine Hernanes pass from the middle third of the field that left England defenders scrambling and out of position. Despite the result, England fans should not get too excited or be content,which is something I’m assuming many will do.
Responding back with two quality goals on counter attacks does not justify Hodgson’s tactical and formation choices. Those goals should not hide or erase the fact that England struggled to create much in terms of quality scoring chances despite having the talent and players at the disposal to do so. In addition, injuries to certain players aren’t an excuse for accepting such tactics.
While the result in the end is not a “bad” one for England, it must be stressed that the tactical approach Roy Hodgson is taking with England is not going to produce any real quality if the team makes it back to Brazil for the World Cup next summer. If fans can rid themselves of false hopes and look beyond simple scoreline, they will notice in terms of play, things can and should be better.
Yet, as long as they accept the mediocrity under Hodgson and do not question it, they will set themselves up for disappointment again with no one to blame but themselves.