Saturday, 12 November 2011

England 1 v Spain 0 - International Match

A view from the coach a few hours before kick off

Saturday 12th November 2011, at Wembley Stadium
England (0) 1
Lampard 49
Spain (0) 0
Ticket £40, Programme £6
Attendance 87,189
Hart, Glen Johnson, Lescott, Jagielka, Cole, Walcott
(Downing 46), Jones (Rodwell 56), Parker (Walker 85), Milner (Adam Johnson 76), Lampard (Barry 56), Bent (Welbeck 63).
Subs Not Used: Carson, Baines, Cahill, Terry, Zamora, Sturridge, Stockdale.
Casillas (Reina 46), Arbeloa, Pique, Sergio Ramos (Puyol 74), Jordi Alba, Busquets (Torres 64), Alonso, Xavi (Fabregas 46), Iniesta (Santi Cazorla 74), Silva (Mata 46), Villa.
Subs Not Used: Valdes, Albiol, Monreal, Llorente, Jesus Navas.
Prior to the game, if they were being honest, I think most England fans would've thought that anything less than three nil to Spain, combined with a bit of fight and commitment from Fabio Capello's side, would've been considered a respectable enough score line.
Y'know anything that wasn't too embarrassing.
But bloody hell ... a win!
Against the champions of Europe, the world and most probably the entire known universe, at Wembley, in front of over 87,000 people ... now that is what you call a result.
Granted, it was friendly international and England rode their luck a few times during several periods of the game when the Spaniards dominated possession, but take nothing away from the England side today.
They don't have the guile and mouthwatering ball control skills that Spain possess ... and they were never going to get a result if they tried to play that way.
But, by playing to their strengths as an organised unit, keeping their shape and composure at critical times, by closing down space and getting in the oppositions faces, on their toes and not allowing them to knock the ball around at will, England wore the 'Campeones' down and ground out a massive result.
At one point, I had to pinch myself and stared at the Wembley scoreboard in disbelief, but it was true ... Fabio Capello's England side were actually beating the might of Spain.Had England scored too soon? Some people wondered.
Was the fact that there was nearly the entire second half left to go for Spain to make amends a genuine reason for concern?
Hmm, quite possibly!
But, the 'football lesson' Spain were apparently going to give England today never unfolded ... and instead the relatively young and inexperienced home side, showed they were ready to step up to the mark and gave the visitors a class in dogged determination and resilience instead.
Sure there were a few scares along the way, Spain did have their chances, but unlike Frank Lampard who reacted more quickly than anybody else when Darren Bent's initial effort came back off the post, they didn't take them.
If I was England manager (perish the thought, eh!?), Joleon Lescott would've been the mainstay of my defence a long time ago.
It was a master-stroke by Capello to push Phil Jones up into midfield alongside this afternoon's man of the match Scott Parker.
The established players who were either on the bench, or unavailable today, must be wondering where or even if they will fit in with the England side in the not too distant future.
After the last World Cup, there were one or two (maybe more) underachieving and non performing 'star' names I would already have axed ... and I don't need to name names do I?
It looks as if their replacements are ready to take over any time soon.
There's no time like the present.
Of course, this kind of team spirit and well drilled performance, must now be built upon and applied in a real tournament situation and the manager needs to show that he has the courage to put his trust in some of the younger players who are chomping at the bit to become the new flag bearers for the nation.
Will he?
Who knows!?
Certainly not me :-/
A view from the coach after the match

But what I do know is, England (warts n' all) have already qualified for Euro 2012 and today they made a cracking start to the games they're playing in preparation for that competition.
I still don't believe that England will actually win another major tournament in my lifetime, but I've not left Wembley feeling as uplifted by a team performance and result as I did today for a very long time.
Let all the English national team's detractors have their say now about how 'it's only a friendly' and 'Spain weren't really trying', or how 'I bet they still lose on Tuesday against the Swedes', because frankly, I'm not bloody well listening, I don't give a flying **** about your opinions and I'm off out to savour this result and celebrate ... CHEERS!Respect is also due to Stuart of the North Notts England fans, for reorganising the transport to this game for everybody after the original plans went awry, and also the driver from Johnsons Bros. Tours of Worksop, who circumnavigated the roads around the North Circular to get us back up the M1 in double quick time after the Wembley car park stewards had been their usual unhelpful and useless selves.
See you again on Tuesday lads.