England started his World Cup carreer with a 2-1 win against Tunisia. Gareth Southgate deployed a 3x5x2 system so there was enough space and positions to have similar players like Walker/Trippier and Lindgard/Alli in the start XI.
Despite of having some problems with the build up phase, England dominate the first half through counter attacks and set pieces.
The Three Lions youngest-ever World Cup captain, Kane, had an important role last night. He was able to hold Tunisia centre backs and went down in the field to crate spaces to Lingard, Alli and mainly Sterling explore. The two little and quick men’s were able to go into the area and create chances for their squad but they didn’t have any lucky. Alli was not in a good physical shape and this could be the reason of his poor performance yesterday. He was not very objective in his actions and he lost 6 balls.
England have a very young squad and some of these players did their debut in World Cup last night. Lingard and Sterling were nervous and they missed some good chances during the game. The Manchester City winger played his 4 game in a World Cup competition but he should rediscover his club form in England. His positioning is not the same as he used to do in City. Under Guardiola instructions, Sterling played in a wide position and now he plays as a free man in the back of Kane. He don’t have the same space to run and make his crosses because now there are more men’s in the middle but he still have quality to make the difference in the squad.
On the other hand (or should I say Henderson?) the center midfielder dominate the pitch in a solo performance. 68 passes with a 85% of accuracy. It is also true that Tunisia didn´t press the Liverpool midfielder and let him play from his own half but he was able to create space and seek for the upfront players with passes through the middle.
England didn’t take the opportunities in the first half and in the second time Tunisia changed their strategy. We didn’t see any more runs from Lingard in the back of the defensive line and the same for Alli, Sterling and Kane. Tunisia adopted a more deeper positioning and England struggled to find spaces and create finishing situations.
Gareth Southgate tried to change something in England game but it was too late. Rashford played 26 minutes and he had less actions than Loftus-Cheek in 14 minutes. However the team was unable to keep the tiempo and accelerate the possession, making their offensive organization too predictable to Tunisia defenders.
Both goals came from set pieces where England dominated the game in 90 minutes. The aerial power of England was crucial for the 3 points. They had 7 corners during the game and they adopted the same strategy in every corner. Tunisia used a zonal marking in their six-yard box but they also had a different approach for Stones, Henderson, Kane and Maguire with a men marking system. Three of these four players acted as blockers so they created space for one of them appear alone in the box to header into the goal.
Most of the times was Maguire that won the first header and Kane was constantly left unmarked to appeared in the far post. Stones was also a target man on these situations. He was able to run out of the opponent and header into the goal with Kane converting the rebound again in the back post.
England worked very well the set pieces and despite of the late winning goal they dominated the game (mostly in the first half).
This victory should make players more comfortable and with less pressure so they can face the next games with more consistency.