Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Four Course Meal: England 1 - Spain 0

Four course meal in one course
Photo by BriYYZ on Flickr

Fat Frank led England out in their poppy-emblazoned Anthem Jackets (coming soon to a store near you) on Saturday at Wembley against a world champion Spanish side that featured Xavi, Iniesta, David Silva and -- on the bench -- the out-of-form Fernan-d'oh! Torres.  The home side held on for a slightly undeserved 1-nil victory, proving the critics wrong and sending the majority of the crowd home happy. 

Some thoughts after watching the game:

o It's somewhat surprising that the NFL logo at midfield was still visible almost a month after the venerable stadium hosted its American interlopers. I would have thought the FA could have found a way to make the logo disappear more effectively than just letting it fade away.... In the end, it was another free advertisement for the NFL -- as if it needs more of that.

o In the first half, England were all too happy to sit back and absorb pressure in their own end, while Spain took the opposite approach, preferring to pressure the man with the ball and give him relatively little time or space with which to make a pass. So guess which side created more turnovers and opportunities?

o The first half was so slow it literally put me to sleep. When I saw the highlights of the FA Cup at half time, they made me wish I'd spent more time on recording that competition than the game I found myself watching. I know these matches are called "friendlies" for a reason, but after 90 minutes of a one goal US - France match last night, and 45 minutes of a goalless first half, I was ready for a bit more "unfriendliness."

o Did anyone see Cesc Fabregas and his hairband yesterday? Are there no places to get your hair cut in Barcelona?!  Good God, man, have some pride: You're beginning to look like Sergio Ramos....

o The second half started with a bang, Fat Frank tucking into a Darren Bent header as if it was a four course meal and giving the English a surprise 1-nil lead. The goal gave the home side a boost of confidence that allowed them to control possession for the next 23 seconds before the ball reverted back to the Spanish overlords and their possession dominance continued.

o I thought Danny Welbeck was absolutely electric when he came on, giving England the same type of pace and possession that he's given United this season.  Alone among the many substitituions, Welbeck's introduction chnaged the trajectory of the game, and put England on a more even footing with the world champions.

o In the end, it was a decent match for the English, although the game could easily have ended as a draw, with David Villa hitting the post, and Fabregas spurning several late chances, as well.  It's not often that the Spanish lose, so Capello has reason to be optimistic -- but let's not get carried away: unlike the English press, I'm not going to roll around in paroxysms of optimistic joy over the win, and I don't suddenly think England are going to win the Euro Championships next summer.

This is farlieonfootie for November 13.

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