World Cup 2006 - England v Paraquay

I am still getting my bearings with the local TV network here in Belize. This morning I tuned into the ESPN2 channel that showed the opening days games only to find fishing. The England v Paraguay game started at 7am here so I was frantically searching for the game. Eventually after flicking the full 99 channels I found a Spanish/South American Channel showing the game. Phew. I feel like I am addicted to the tournament already.

What a start though. Beckhams deadly right foot caused many problems for the Paraguay defense and the opening goal was the perfect start for England. And what a fantastic frist half display with only the final 5 minutes of the half causing some concern for the England faithful. I certainly feel a tinge of national pride even from here in Central America as I hear the trumpets in the stands blasting out "Self preservation society", the song from the Italian Job.

Cole and Neville are the only 2 players that were below their game in the first half, but no damage done, even with Cole slipping near the end of the first half to concede possession to the Paraguay team in a dangerous area. But England dominated the first half with the midfield quartet in total command of the game. Crouch looks to be in fine form. I think him and Owen or Rooney could cause many problems for other teams due to the differences in their physiques and style of play.

The second half of the game though was a major dissapointment for the England team, really because they just ran out of steam. The first half was full of tempo and Paraquay coudn't compete with the ferocious England midfield. But that took its toll on the team and in a world cup you only need to slip once to concede a goal.

A big problem for the side in the second half was that when they took Owen off they reverted to a 4-5-1 formation with Crouch leading the line. But he dropped deeper and deeper leaving no striker up front to give England the breakaway threat. As a result the whole England team became camped in their own half with no way of hitting the Paraquay team on the break.

They will need to perform much better than this to progress to the final stages, as teams like Brazil and Holland will create much more of a problem for the England defence. And they will also need to be much more creative in the final third of the field.

The encouraging signs though were Lampards deadly sure shot right foot that singed the Paraquay keepers hands on several occasions, a solid defence and of course the vital 3 points, which should be the springboard to take England to the next stage.

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