The gap in technique and lack of understanding of the midfield space was enormous. And that is what made this game fascinating, in an ugly way. Herewith, 10 things we learned about both England and Italy:
1 – At times Italy came close to being as much a crock as England. There was terrible finishing and chances wasted by the dozen.
2 – Wayne Rooney wasn’t fit. He looked less like a player who has only had one game in weeks and more like someone returning from a lengthy injury lay-off. He also looked like he needs to lose a few pounds.
3 – England manager Roy Hodgson put absurd, blind faith in Rooney. Rooney was rubbish and he should have been substituted after 30 minutes.
4 – Andrea Pirlo is worth 10 England players.
5 – Pirlo is the coolest man on the planet. After blithely bossing the game for 120 minutes he scored the sort of penalty that makes people smile. Absolute casual disdain was in that kick.
6 – It is impossible to control a game with mere effort and sweat. It took about 20 minutes for Italy to size up England and from then on it was a matter of England huffing while Italy dominated.
7 – Andy Carroll is a flash-in-the-pan player. He looked lost when required to do anything more than wait for a high ball aimed at his head.
8 – One always knew that Buffon would save a penalty and England would miss one. What one didn’t know is that Joe Hart would just close his eyes and dive this way and that, in perilous, desperate hope. Italy figured it out pretty quickly.
9 – As a general rule, England can’t pass the ball. There were perhaps three occasions in 120 minutes when a string of passes came together for England. You could tell by the near-hysterical reaction of England supporters that this was a rare, hopeful moment. Actually, the rarity only underlined the pathetic level of technique and ball skills.
10 – The worst lesson and most embarrassing, for England, is that the grim ordinariness of England’s performance reveals that English soccer has learnt nothing from multiple decades of failure.
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