England must utilise attacking flair to challenge in Brazil

Roy Hodgson closeup 2

As England played out a 2-2 draw in their penultimate warm up game, the abundance of attacking flair at Roy Hodgson's disposal was again on show, leaning on Everton's Ross Barkley in particular.

England fielded an experimental starting eleven and during what was a somewhat shaky performance defensively, England's attack-minded young players were certainly the highlight.

Most notably, Ross Barkley turned in an outstanding display. Almost as if channelling a young Paul Gascoigne, the 20-year-old looked comfortable on the ball in all areas and ran at defenders with power and purpose all game, eventually providing an assist for Rickie Lambert in the second half. 

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlian was energetic, direct and a constant thorn in the side of the Ecuador defence getting to the byline on several occasions. 

The 20-year-old Arsenal midfielder limped off in the second half with what could be a knee ligament injury and if a scan tomorrow reveals such damage, the England starlet's World Cup could be over before it has begun. 

After an outstanding season at Liverpool, Raheem Sterling was lively against Peru last Friday and again looked bright in a late cameo this evening before being sent off for an altercation with Antonio Valencia. 

Jack Wilshire didn't have his best game, but carried the ball well in midfield on occasions and wasn't afraid to get forward and run at defenders.

Add to this the fact that Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge were not even named in the squad tonight, and it becomes clear that England have perhaps their best attacking group of players heading into a World Cup for several years. 

England's main weakness is without doubt the defence. Unconvincing options at centre-half and James Milner on trial at right-back tonight prove that if Hodgson attempts to approach games in a cautious manner rather than playing to his clear attacking strengths, then England could self destruct in Brazil

Liverpool and Southampton both played with attacking courage in the Premier League this season, and their strong contingency in the England set up as a result is unsurprising. 

If England are to prosper in Brazil then it is crucial that Hodgson plays to these strengths and harness the attacking flair that is so readily available to him.  



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