Something different today. I finally got round to playing with passing networks and had a quick look at the Uruguayans against Costa Rica. First things first: I haven’t looked at Costa Rica and what they did. At all. This is merely a test to see how much we might be able to glean about one team from just one game.
To keep it from getting too messy I just included the main passing combinations, otherwise it would look even more like an Etch A Sketch than it does already. Simply, the thicker the arrows, the more passes between that combo. The bigger the circle, the more touches the player had. The players are positioned roughly where their average touch saw them on the pitch:
1. In goal, Muslera kicked long to Stuani on the right. If Stuani plays, it’s likely this will be tried again as Baines is the smallest defender England have.
2. Right full back Maxi Pereira was forever having to come back on himself and play inside. He and Stuani provided next to no attacking threat down that right hand side.
3. Do Uruguay have what it takes to expose England’s bloody awful defensive left hand side? Between them Rooney, Gerrard and Baines got nowhere near Candreva and Darmian against Italy.
4. Uruguay’s two central midfielders are pretty unadventurous. Rios and Gargano stay home. Lack of midfield runners should suit Gerrard in particular.
5. With two holding the fort centrally for Uruguay, do England really want to stick Rooney back in the middle against them? Or does Hodgson continue to rally against popular opinion and keep him left against the indecisive right side of Uruguay?
6. Almost all of Uruguay’s play went through Rios and out wide left to Caceres and Rodriguez. What do England do? Play safe and use Milner in front of Johnson? Or try and keep Uruguay quiet down that side by occupying them with Sterling’s pace? It’ll likely be the latter. England could also use the busy Lallana to stem the flow from Rios.
7. Is a half fit Suarez still an upgrade on Forlan? Here’s Forlan’s on-ball attacking performance v Costa Rica. The blue arrows are successful passes and shots, the red arrows are unsuccessful ones:
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