World Cup: ENG and CRC Draw 0-0, England Goes Home


Jun 19, 2014; Sao Paulo, BRAZIL; England goalkeeper Joe Hart in the second half against Uruguay during the 2014 World Cup at Arena Corinthians. Uruguay defeated England 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

England limped to the finish line today, as they drew group winners Costa Rica in a scoreless match. England had 8 shots (1 on target, 5 off target, 2 blocked) while Costa Rica had 4 shots (2 on target, 1 off target, 1 blocked).

Usually, my game synopses cover how each half of the match went. But this game was an absolute snoozer throughout, and to even attempt to break it down is a complete disservice to both the readers and the fine staff here at MLSM. You’re here for actual insight, not dissecting how England dominated possession in a match where they didn’t put up a single goal.

There’s two reasons why this match seemed to feature extras from the Walking Dead. Primarily, Costa Rica is already in to the elimination rounds, all set up to take on the best the tournament has to offer, starting with Greece on the 29th. Meanwhile, England was eliminated only two games into the tournament with losses to Italy and Uruguay. So right off the bat, this match meant basically nothing, and gives no motivation to any of the players involved. England supporters can use the excuse that “this is an experience for the younger players for the next World Cup,” but let’s not kid ourselves, over half of these players won’t even make the roster in another four years. True, there’s quite a bit of talent on that England roster, but it’s young, raw, unproven talent that hasn’t performed at an elite status yet in the Premier League, and odds suggest that many of these youngsters will fizzle out and never be heard from again. Daniel Sturridge and Gary Cahill are the only possible exceptions, already playing vital roles for their clubs and have proving to be world-class players within their home league, but nobody else on the roster is even close.

And the second reason is why England won’t be playing in this tournament for another four years: the complete lack of aggression, in their play and their attitude. England made 479 passes, yet only mustered 8 total shots on goal, none of which were real quality. They can pass it around all they want, but the 5-back formation of Costa Rica can sit back all day and not even break a sweat as they watch what essentially amounts to a game of catch. England needed to take the play to a team using a defensive formation, but did nothing with the ball in the attacking half. The overall demeanor of England players has been a major source of discussion in the British press over the years, and while it may be extreme in some cases, there still needs to be some fire shown on the pitch. Argue with a ref, scream at an opposing player, chest bump a teammate, do something to show that you actually care about what’s going on in your match. And maybe, that carries over to your play and you start drawing more calls and dig in for those ball battles more.

I know this turned into yet another publication on the decline of English football, and I apologize for that. Costa Rica deserves all of the credit for showing up the best that European teams have to offer. They showed up, played their game smart, and are now cruising right into the elimination rounds. But we have to get a grip: England isn’t the football powerhouse they used to be. No matter what the reason, they fail at the international level on a regular basis, and the last time I checked, you measure successes in sports with wins. You could also argue that Italy is going through a similar transition, but that’s another topic for another day. Today, England go back home empty-handed yet again, the shameful remnants of a once mighty football empire.