Wales Shape & Defensive Plan

Wales initially set up defending in a 4-4-2, a change in formation from their opening two games. Fitting Joe Allen into the team required a rejig, and in the first half, this looked to be paying dividends. There was little space between the lines, limiting the effectiveness of the England midfield to create in central areas. The Welsh press looked to start on the line of Walker, Rice and Shaw, similar to how the US set up. However, as the game became stretched after the quick fire goals, Wales lost their structure in pursuit of more attacking success.

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Wide Areas (1st and 2nd)

England made changes in both areas, bringing in Walker, Foden and Rashford. Foden looked to come inside in the first half, allowing Walker to maintain the width, looking to create overloads. While good possession was gained in these wide areas, England struggled to capitalise on this good play. Southgate made the decision to switch the wide players over at half time, and it instantly paid off, with Foden coming inside and winning a free kick, resulting in Rashford’s opener, and with the high press for Foden’s. For the opening goal, Rashford dragged Joe Allen over to the touch line, creating space on the inside for Foden to access.

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England Pressing

In the 2nd half, there was a noticeable increase in speed of play, both on and off the ball. England came out to press high, and it resulted in the 2nd goal, scored by Foden. Following the opening goal, England pressed with 5 players against the Welsh back 4 and GK, forcing the ball wide before winning it and attacking a vacant box. This level of press continued throughout the remainder of the match, resulting in England gaining good possession from the Wales defence.

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Marcus Rashford

Rashford has made a strong case for his inclusion in the next round vs Senegal. Tied top scorer in the tournament, he added undeniable pace to the England attack. Involved in all 3 goals, his pace was evident in his press resulting in the 2nd goal. Managing his distances well, he pounced on Ben Davies, who duly coughed up possession. Rashford’s 2nd showed his potential importance to the remainder of England’s tournament. England could have been accused against USA of playing in front of the defensive block. Rashford was willing to go in behind, and while his finish wasn’t emphatic, showed a different dimension to England which will be required in the knockout stages.

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