Celebration after the winning penalty kick during England 1-1 Colombia (4-3 on penalties) at the World Cup.

England 1-1 Colombia: Formation switch, dirty tricks and penalty kicks

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.

4-3-1-2 diamond formation during England 1-1 Colombia at the World Cup.

Colombia 4-3-1-2 diamond formation.

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

The Colombian defensive shape was very narrow. As a result, England wingbacks Kieran Trippier and Ashley Young were often left in space or one-against-one with their Colombian full back counterparts.

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.

Kane was increasingly coming short in this match in order to be the link player. What’s more, Colombia’s centre backs, Yerry Mina and Davinson Sanchez, were often tracking him in to midfield.

Mina tracks Kane as Sterling and Lingard run in-behind during England 1-1 Colombia at the World Cup.

Mina tracks Kane as Sterling and Lingard run 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.

Henderson runs for the near post as Kane heads to the back post during England 1-1 Colombia at the World Cup.

Henderson runs for the near post as Kane heads to the back post.

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.

3-1-4-2 formation during England 1-1 Colombia at the World Cup.

Colombia 3-1-4-2 formation.

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.

Southgate’s switches

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.

Colombia equalise

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?

Henderson marks Mina who scores to make it England 1-1 Colombia in the World Cup match.

Henderson marks Mina who scores to make it England 1-1 Colombia.

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.

Extra time

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.

Penalty shootout

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.

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9 Responses to England 1-1 Colombia: Formation switch, dirty tricks and penalty kicks

  1. Carrigbawn 4th July 2018 at 8:27 pm #

    “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.”

    That decision didn’t call VAR into “question”. It called into “question” the quality of the officials watching the video replays of the incident. VAR gives those officials a chance to look at the incident again and from a number of different camera angles, a luxury the referee doesn’t have. If those officials can’t inform the referee he has made a mistake and ask him to look at the incident again on the pitch side monitor so he can see the incident again and via the different angles afforded by VAR.

    I believe those officials were, like the referee, from the USA. I did read on the BBC website a comment from someone conversant with the USA game (MLS) that the weak refereeing of Geiger was common in the MLS.

    I can’t understand the complaints about VAR. After all it’s only a video recording of the incident in question viewed from a number of different camera angles. If the officials watching that video ignore what they see then they are at fault, not VAR.

    • Carrigbawn 4th July 2018 at 8:30 pm #

      My response should have said …..”If those officials can’t inform the referee he has made a mistake and ask him to look at the incident again on the pitch side monitor so he can see the incident again and via the different angles afforded by VAR that’s not the fault of VAR, but the fault of the officials”

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th July 2018 at 11:24 pm #

      I believe that does call in to question the “system” which includes the technology and the officials using it. The referee clearly didn’t see the incident and the advice given to him was to yellow card the player when they should have advised the referee to go to the touch line monitors to review the incident. It’s equally worrying that the officials in the VAR room didn’t advise a red card when it was clearly dangerous and violent conduct.

      • Carrigbawn 5th July 2018 at 1:43 pm #

        I disagree with you, Mark. It doesn’t “call into question the “system””. It calls into question the judgement of the numerous officials operating the system! However Henderson did make a meal of it and those officials viewing the VAR videos might have taken the view, rather like they did when Neymar was rolling around theatrically on the touchline after being stamped on, that though there was foul play there was only minimal contact and the reactions of the players fouled was completely over the top.

        Actually on re watching the Henderson incident I’d say the referee was right to award only a yellow card as there was minimal contact and Henderson went down as though poleaxed (he soon fully recovered!) to get the Colombian player sent off

        I believe in VAR. If VAR had been around in 1986 Maradona’s “Hand of God Goal” would have been disallowed. Even the dumbest of officials operating the VAR system could have seen he used his hand. I can’t think of any better justification for VAR

  2. Graham Wood. 4th July 2018 at 9:22 pm #

    Yes, Mike Geiger is certainly not one of the best MLS referees. Certainly unused to the pace and
    wiles of this standard of International Football. His inexperience showed in dealing with the antics employed by the Columbians. In truth Barrios would have been sent off by most Premier league refs for the head butt attempt. Several of his colleagues would have also likely been dismissed
    so the truth is that Columbia were very lucky to have this ref. England would have won this in a canter with some decent refereeing. Very hard to play football against a team of all in wrestlers.
    Pity, because in Davison Sanchez, Falca & Uribe they have some decent talent.
    Hopefully the Sweden game will be a much better affair with England trying to break down a “park the bus” defence. Lets hope Stirling puts the display on that he is capable of instead of running around like a headless chicken.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th July 2018 at 11:32 pm #

      I can’t say that I follow MLS so it’s interesting to hear your views on the referee. I can understand a referee wanting to communicate with the players, but this can’t go on for four minutes as it did over the penalty incident. What’s more the Colombian players surrounded him rather than just the captain talking to the ref. Most refs will walk towards the byline ushering the extra players away, then get the yellow card out to disperse the crowd. He didn’t do this. Neither did he do things like book Mina for celebrating and going in to the crowd, a standard automatic yellow card. I really hope we don’t see him again as he could really cost a team the game.

      • Carrigbawn 5th July 2018 at 1:51 pm #

        I agree. Mina should have received a yellow card for going into the crowd. Also Geiger should have given yellow cards to a number of the Colombian players surrounding him following the penalty award. Falcao, though Captain, should have received one because of his aggressive attitude towards the referee. The players scuffing up the penalty spot should also have received yellow’s.
        Geiger has form. He’s evidently been suspended before. He should be permanently suspended this time.

  3. Toby4eva 5th July 2018 at 12:45 am #

    Thanks Mark

    Simply a game that history will remember for one thing.

    But critically for the England national team psyche, Eric Dier’s strike will likely have a very profound influence in future performance.

    This squad has developed similar qualities to the Tottenham squad.

    There is absolutely no doubt that Southgate is a Poch disciple – but he had put his stamp on this team and deserves huge credit.

    As does Captain Kane.

    Can the English stop pinching themselves?

    Within four years he has gone from non-entity to leading the Three Lions to an eminently winnable World Cup semi final and annexing the Golden Boot for himself as now arguably the world’s fourth most recognisable footballer – and perhaps the second most valuable!

    It’s “Ripping Yarns” stuff that even the great Michael Palin might struggle to dream up.

    So proud of our Fab Five – six actually!

    Let’s not forget Davinson – he was sublime.

    What about when he actually pulled out of that sliding tackle in the box!

    He is 21!!!

    Hard not to buy into the VAR and referring debate, but on balance I think good decisions have been made in Russia.

    I have been a long-time supporter of the use of available technology in big time football, and I think VAR has come through its first mega test with credit.

    I wonder though if it should be used like it is in cricket,

    Captains can challenge decisions rather than off-field referees perhaps.

    No limit to successful challenges, but only one unsuccessful challenge per half.

    Issues like the head butt can be dealt with retrospectively and playing suspensions applied.

    Cricket does it well I’d suggest, with some right and wrong umpire decisions evening themselves out over time – with the onus on the players to be clever with the management of their appeals.

    With an edge of controversy still ingrained in proceedings.

    And while I’m banging on….

    Love this site and all of the great responses and debate to Marks highly instructional posts.


    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 5th July 2018 at 2:50 pm #

      Great comment, Toby4eva. I do wonder if we’ll see the introduction of a challenge based system. It would definitely up the ante and introduce another strategic element to the game for managers to have to ponder!