In fairness, England played pretty well, actually, for the last 30 minutes after Beckham scored, and Ashley Cole had, as they say, a blinder. Hargreaves looked capable at right back. Opinion on Carrick was mixed - some loved him:
And suddenly England have an excess of holding midfielders. After the energy of Hargreaves against the Swedes, the composure of Carrick, using his superior distribution, was a feature of the Ecuador match.Others? Not so much - in the Michael Davies scale of 'pantsness':
Each could argue that this was a game that demonstrated his value to the cause. The Tottenham man's [Pooh: that would be Carrick] passing suggested England, finally, had observed the lessons about the importance of keeping possession.
Pants ... billowy, stiff, scratchy, multi-pleated DockersHow do you really feel?
This just didn't work at all. He looked uncomfortable on the ball, rarely moved forward, barely made a tackle all game and had absolutely no presence. Don't think we'll see him in Gelsenkirchen on Saturday -- I think we'll be going back to 4-4-2.
As for Portugal - Netherlands (aka Mighty Russian Referee[/Boris Badunov accent] destroying weak football game) was something of a chicken-egg thing - where there tons of cards because the match was violent and bad-tempered, or did the match became violent and bad-tempered because of all the cards and whistles frustrated the players? Whatever. Crap game, but as Al points out, compelling in a multi-car pileup sort of way. Good goal to win it - Maniche does have a habit of getting his money's worth from those he scores.
Al also does well to pick out Miguel as the best player on the field, absolutely dominating Robben all game, as he did in Euro 2004. As for Holland - they need to find some midfielder's. Cocu is ancient, Sneijder did nothing in 4 games and Van Bommel is just dire. He looks awful playing for Barca and not much better for his country.
And now England and Portugal meet - though Portugal are certainly without Deco and Costinha, and possibly without Ronaldo. Figo can consider himself very lucky to participate. That game is going to penalties...