Pirlo dominates England
On Sunday night, fans witnessed what was almost a one-sided affair both physically and tactically. Everyone went out or crashed in at home and placed their bets on what they believed would have been a classical affair but the sheer stupidity to leave that old Italian veteran and footballing hero named Pirlo alone, cost them the game.
There’s a reason why Pirlo is one of the greatest players to ever play the game and there’s most certainly a reason why he’s a deep-lying playmaker. Anyone with an acute footballing sense could tell you that after that last game.
It’s simple really, England’s always been about the passion and their old ‘play hard win hard’ attitude. The Italians have always been about sticking to their roles with no positional ambiguity whatsoever. They know what they do and they stick by it until their manager says so. Well unless your name is Mario Balotelli.
The picture below shows the layout of the two teams, three things immediately become clear.
1) England haven’t changed the formation that BARELY beat Ukraine.
2) Italy are narrow. They like playing narrow. They know narrow. They are brilliant on the middle lines.
3) England are wide. They think it’ll win games on a cold evening in Ukraine.
Here’s how the story starts off. Milner always does his part for the defense in every game he’s ever played but in hindsight, this was a bad thing. He stuck in to De Rossi where Milner did do a fine job but a bit of the width was gone. Young looked like he was instructed to mark a man on defense. Unfortunately for him, he stuck to Marchisio and never left him. That’s your flanks on the midfield now restricted to the center. Now you have England’s fantastic fullbacks, Cole and Johnson.
They seemed to be fine for a while, putting in a few good crosses and whatnot. Johnson even created a chance down the right and had the ball on his feet in the box forcing Buffon to make a jaw-dropping brilliant save. Balzaretti and Abate took care of this after a while anyway. England’s main offensive ideology, the ‘flank em kill em’ idea was now gone. Gerrard had nobody to play his charges with, Parker didn’t know when to drive in. It was all a midfield mess. Everyone was restricted to the center where De Rossi, Marchisio, Pirlo and even Montolivo took control.
Speaking of Pirlo, what.a.game! Never ever leave Pirlo alone. Rooney’s already learned this before back in 09 where he left him alone and it took the selfless, tireless and truly underappreciated Park-Ji-Sung to take care of him. Tactically, Rooney was supposed to be marking or taking care of an aging Pirlo. Rooney however, decided he wasn’t worth the time for some odd reason. How wrong was he? He had the most passes in the entire game. 131 passes with 6 of them being key goal-chance creating passes.
It was Welbeck who tried to do Rooney’s job and he was pretty good at it, actually. After half-time, England dropped down their line deeper leaving lesser space for Pirlo and his role seemed to be fading in the game. However, everytime Italy got the ball, he moved around, distributed well and ensured Italy, at the very least, had the ball. This inadvertently pushed England much deeper and Pirlo managed to find more space for himself.
In simpler terms, Pirlo was always left unmarked and as such, he always looked forward to Balotelli. In the above pictures case, he flicked it on for a pass to Balotelli which he did over and over again throughout the entire game. Then Welbeck left the game to make way for an aerial threat in Andy Caroll. Didn’t work and Pirlo’s freedom simply kept increasing. Walcott was brought in to provide a more offensive and fresh threat but they simply couldn’t give him the right passes. Parker tried but he just couldn’t do it that night. To make matters worse, Gerrard, the one absolutely bonkers consisted game changer they had had cramps and couldn’t run much.
England tried and Hodgson did try and approach the game to England’s strength’s but it just didn’t go right for them this game. Perhaps if they probably tried to free Young up instead of getting him to defend things could have been probably different. Italy don’t like defending pace. Young thrives on space and he utilizes space well but he can’t defend.
Also, if Rooney did his job instead of passing it on to the younger Welbeck, they could have done fine. Rooney is certainly capable to defensively annoy the metaphorical dung out his opponents but he just didn’t do it. Yes, Man Utd fans, I’m blaming Rooney and he’s not the best player in the world. Deal with it and stop crying. Now pay your respects to the under-appreciated footballing genius and the incredibly sexy man that is Andrea Pirlo.