The Three Lions overcame a switch in formation, dirty foul play and penalty kicks to emerge victorious after it finished England 1-1 Colombia following extra time.
England were made to work incredibly hard to advance to the World Cup Quarter-Finals. Tested tactically, physically and finally mentally from the penalty spot, the Three Lions came through a tough ordeal. Jose Pekerman shuffled his formation and brought out the dark arts to get back to England 1-1 Colombia in stoppage time. However, Eric Dier landed the knockout blow in the shootout.
Colombia’s narrow diamond
Whereas England lined up in their usual 3-5-2 formation, Jose Pekerman made a change his standard setup. The Colombian coach went with a 4-3-1-2 narrow diamond shape.
Pekerman stationed Wilmar Barrios, Carlos Sanchez and Jefferson Lerma just in front of his back four. Ahead of this trio, Juan Quintero was at the point of his diamond as a number ten, just behind strikers Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado.
The formation had two aims. Firstly, to stop England playing around and out from the back, as Quintero pushed up with Falcao and Cuadrado on to our three centre backs. Secondly to utilise the trio in front of the back four to stop the runs of Jesse Lingard, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling.
Spaces in wide areas
Whilst Trippier and Young both deliver an excellent cross, neither player has the speed or dribbling ability to work their own opportunities. Both need to rely on being afforded space or to run off someone else to create crossing chances.
The space was out wide for England, but often the ball was too slow to be shifted to the wingbacks before they were closed down. Chances therefore only came as space was worked for them.
Kieran Trippier was the biggest exponent of this. An under-lapping run of Jesse Lingard created his first crossing opportunity. Trippier’s clever movement allowed Lingard to find him to deliver a devilish cross. A stretching Harry Kane did exceptionally well to loop the ball back across goal, but just over the bar. A similar move then saw Trippier create a shooting opportunity for Raheem Sterling.
The Harry Kane pull effect
England have played well, but have lacked a true number ten in this World Cup tournament. As a result Harry Kane has increasingly had to drop in and occupy this role as well as being the striker. As Kane comes short for the ball, it has allowed Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling and Jesse Lingard to run in advance of him looking for the pass in-behind.
This was the process that Gareth Southgate wanted. Lingard, Sterling and Dele were looking to sprint in to the hole created by the centre back coming out. However, the combination of Wilmar Barrios and Juan Quintero stopped it. Barrios dropped in to become an auxiliary centre back. Quintero was tracking Jordan Henderson to stop him playing Kane’s layoffs over the top for the runs of Sterling, Lingard and Alli.
The trap was being set, but Colombia was able to navigate it with their positional play.
England set piece routines
England was in the ascendancy, but without carving Colombia open. To disrupt England’s rhythm, the South American team turned the match in to a chippy and dirty affair. Constant fouls to break the tempo and ruffle up England became the order of the day.
Twenty-three Colombian fouls followed, which led to England set pieces and more chances for Trippier and Young to deliver quality balls in to the box. The England pair did just this, but often found man mountain Davinson Sanchez in the way.
England took the lead in this exact way. Harry Kane was smashed in the back as he jumped for a header earning Santiago Arias a yellow card. Ashley Young swung the resulting free kick in towards the arriving Harry Maguire. However, Davinson Sanchez leapt in to nod it away for a corner.
England’s corners have been a real success at this World Cup. The four players bunching on the edge of the box have given opponent’s nightmares. Jordan Henderson runs towards the near post, Harry Kane the far, whilst John Stones and Harry Maguire look to win the first ball for them.
It was the same process that earned England a penalty as Carlos Sanchez grappled Harry Kane to the floor.
In order to disrupt the routine, Sanchez tried his best to get amongst the England bunch on the edge of the box. However, he just got himself in a bad position and hauled Kane to the floor. Penalty to England.
Despite their best efforts to prolong the taking of the kick, talk trash to the taker and hack up the penalty spot, Colombia’s dirty tricks came to nothing. Harry Kane remained the coolest person in the stadium to dink the ball straight down the middle and past a despairing David Ospina. England 1-0 Colombia and a lead the Three Lions had thoroughly deserved.
Colombia switch formation
Going a goal behind, Jose Pekerman immediately sought to change the game. His attempts to disrupt the rhythm through fouling had proved fruitless, so he switched formation. Striker Carlos Bacca was introduced as Pekerman went to a 3-1-4-2 formation. Juan Cuadrado moved to wingback along with Johan Mojica and the pair looked to get crosses in for Falcao and Bacca.
The change of formation created a favourable match up for England as spaces opened up down the sides of the Colombian back three. Santiago Arias had moved from right back to the right-sided centre back and he was the weakness.
Firstly, Jesse Lingard ran brilliantly off Arias to receive a pass in-behind. Lingard only had to square for the arriving Harry Kane to have a tap in. However, an incredible sliding recovery tackle from Davinson Sanchez blocked Lingard’s pass.
Dele Alli was the next to expose the new right-sided centre back. Dele ran off Arias to meet Kieran Trippier’s perfectly flighted cross. However, he couldn’t cushion the ball enough to get it back towards the far post and it ended up flying inches over Ospina’s bar.
In order to close the game down, Gareth Southgate made some changes of his own. Dele Alli was withdrawn for Eric Dier and Raheem Sterling for Jamie Vardy. The moves were good on paper. Vardy on to run the channels that were opening up down the sides of the Colombian back three. Dier to sure up and add a presence in front of the back line.
The moves unbalanced England as Jordan Henderson, rather than operate alongside Dier, was thrust in to Dele’s advanced role. As a result, England struggled to hold on to the ball and it came back with increasing regularity.
Conceding a penalty from a corner, Colombia then equalised from their first corner of the match.
The passage of play that resulted in the Colombian corner saw some minor cheating along with England complacency. David Ospina took the free kick 15-yards ahead of where Harry Kane had committed the initial foul. Ospina was therefore able to put his kick right to the edge of the England penalty area and cause trouble.
Eric Dier and John Stones then went for the header and contrived to knock the ball down in-between Jordan Henderson and Jesse Lingard. Both Henderson and Lingard were slow to react, allowing Mateus Uribe to unleash a fiercely dipping drive. Somehow Jordan Pickford flew across goal and clawed the ball away with his outstretched hand just when it looked as if it was flying in to the top corner.
The resulting corner saw some questionable England marking. Yerry Mina is the tallest player in the Colombian team and has already scored from corners twice in this World Cup. So, why was Jordan Henderson marking him? Harry Maguire was on Davinson Sanchez and John Stones on Radamel Falcao, but Eric Dier was picking up Mateus Uribe. Why didn’t the bigger and more physical Dier or Stones take Mina?
As a result, Mina ran off a screen by Davinson Sanchez and Luis Muriel to leave Henderson trailing. Mina arrived to meet the ball and power it down into the turf and up over Kieran Trippier who got in an awkward position under the flight of the bouncing ball. It squibbed up off Trippier’s forehead and in to the net, crushing England hearts in the process. Suddenly, the score was England 1-1 Colombia with only seconds remaining.
Suffering a body blow at the end of ninety minutes, England showed great resolve to steady the ship and finish the extra period as the stronger team.
Both sides had chances from their preferred method of attack. Colombia created a good crossing opportunity that saw Radamel Falcao head wide. England worked their wingback areas to get down the sides of the Colombian back three. Substitute Danny Rose racing in to this zone and pulling a shot inches past the far post was our closest effort.
England then had the biggest chance of the extra time period. Naturally it came from a corner. Eric Dier found himself in space, but could only blaze his header over the bar.
Owning the process, writing their own stories and constant practice are the three terms that have been consistently mentioned by Gareth Southgate when quizzed about penalties. England did all of this to earn a first ever penalty shootout win at the World Cup.
Jordan Henderson looked the least composed of all the England takers. His miss opened the door for Colombia. However, Mateus Uribe spanking his effort against the cross bar and Jordan Pickford’s save on Carlos Bacca created the chance for Eric Dier to win the contest.
Dier remained calm and composed to slot the ball in to the corner of the net. Cue a massive pile on as twenty-two years since a competitive tournament shootout victory were eradicated with one swing of Dier’s boot. The Three Lions were through and Colombia out.
England 1-1 Colombia (4-3 on penalties) overall
England had everything in this game apart from the cutting edge required to humble the Colombians. Possession and build-up play were good, but there was a lack of tempo and incision in the final third to carve Colombia open.
England didn’t receive much help from a referee who was out of his depth. Mike Geiger’s failure to clamp down early on the Colombian misdemeanours led to him losing control. Lengthy discussions were engaged in with Colombian players rather than swift action to show who was in charge. Hopefully FIFA will engage its best officials for the closing stages.
VAR was also called in to question once again. How Wilmar Barrios’ head butt on Jordan Henderson was only punished with a yellow card was yet another knock on the system.
England’s win came at a price. A number of players looked to have picked up knocks and Dele Alli still doesn’t look 100% following his thigh injury. Playing extra time will also have taken a great deal out of the players. With only three full days to recover it is not just the resilient Swedish team that we will have to contend with in the heat of Samara.
Final score: England 1-1 Colombia (4-3 on penalties).
MOTM: Kieran Trippier.