MARTIN KEOWN: England's win over Iran was a massive statement
MARTIN KEOWN TALKS TACTICS: England’s win over Iran was a massive statement of intent – I expect Gareth Southgate’s team to top the group and be in good shape for the knockout stages
- England showed their quality with their 6-2 victory against Iran on Monday
- Gareth Southgate’s side are certainly capable of finishing top of Group B
- The win against Iran showed the world how much English football has evolved
- Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results
The scoreline, performance and ease with which England beat Iran was viewed here in Qatar as a massive statement of intent from Gareth Southgate’s side for this World Cup.
It showed the rest of the world how much the English game has evolved. The teams of yesteryear that I played in spent a lot of time chasing the ball and didn’t have much energy to do a great deal with it once we’d won it back. Those days are gone.
England’s impressive 6-2 victory against Iran on Monday was a major statement of intent
Now, everything is choreographed to ensure England dominate possession, dictate play and win with style, which we saw against Iran.
All of Gareth Southgate’s men play in the Premier League except Jude Bellingham, and that’s important. This is a team used to being surrounded by the best players, the best managers and the best opponents.
It’s commonly accepted the Premier League is the best in the world. Now England want to use this World Cup to show that not only do we boast the best league, we’ve got the best national team, too.
England had 79 per cent possession against Iran and made 716 passes — the third-most by any team in a World Cup game.
Jack Grealish’s goal, and the move that preceded it, will have particularly pleased Southgate
Jack Grealish’s goal will have particularly pleased Southgate. It included 35 passes in the build-up, with all 11 players involved, five of whom were substitutes who had slotted in seamlessly. Then there was the unselfishness of Callum Wilson to set up Grealish.
But I enjoyed Raheem Sterling’s goal just as much — Bellingham driving forward with the ball, Harry Kane’s cross and Sterling’s volleyed finish. England are as technically and tactically prepared as they’ve ever been. In tight areas, we look like we can handle ourselves.
Raheem Sterling’s goal showed England are as technically and tactically prepared as ever
I expect Southgate’s team to finish top of the group and be in good shape for the knockout stages
Gifted players are being brought off the bench, such as Phil Foden and Grealish, which means the standard never drops.
The USA, who are still an emerging nation in football, will want to prove a point against England, as will Wales when we get to the group’s final round of games.
But Southgate’s professionalism will ensure his players won’t take any opponent lightly, and if they hit the performance levels of Monday’s 6-2 win over Iran, I expect England to top this group and be in good shape for the knockout stages.
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