A resilient, but uncreative, performance was what greeted fans at the Riverside Stadium tonight as the men’s Team GB team were defeated 2-0 by the immense talent of Brazil.
In the first full match for the England/Wales partnership, Britain struggled to threaten the South American centre-backs throughout the entire match, but they weren’t embarrassed by a team favoured to win the Olympic football tournament. It was a welcome sight to see Team GB play with an attacking focus, a far cry from Roy Hodgson’s cautious tactics during Euro 2012. The 4-3-3 line-up contained Premier League and Champions League winners, heavily complemented by Welsh players, with veterans Craig Bellamy and captain Ryan Giggs leading the line. It’s a shame, then, that the Welsh contingent appeared to refuse to sing the national anthem, ‘God Save the Queen’. Whilst it’s fair enough that it’s more commonly associated with the England team, it is the national anthem of the United Kingdom and I believe it should be adhered to.
In the grand scheme of things, GBR played poorly in the first half. Despite the wealth of talent up front, the defensive back four was often suspect. Many called for Micah Richards to have been included in the England line-up for the Euros, but his lack of synergy with James Tomkins showed that it may have been a good call to leave him at home. Although he improved in the second half with a number of clearing headers and important interventions, he was completely to blame for the penalty that gifted Brazil their second goal. His lack of match practice towards the second half of the Premier League season began to show and he was completely outpaced, leading to a clumsy challenge that he could have had no complaints about. The centre-backs weren’t the only ones at fault, as linked play between all defenders and second-choice ‘keeper Jason Steele was frequently muddled and led to testy moments.
The slew of substitutions inevitably broke up the game and neither side looked likely to add to the game’s tally in the second half. The likes of Sinclair and Cork showed glimpses of their star futures, although Marvin Sordell certainly won’t be one to watch, based on his cameo. Jack Butland, the third-choice goalkeeper taken to Poland, was Britain’s star in the second half, confidently diving at all balls, even bravely leaping right in front of one Brazilian attack. Barring one iffy punch early in the half, he showed why he was selected in the England squad and may be a real understudy to Joe Hart in the near future. I even take back my sarcastic dig at him prior to Euro 2012.
Before the match, coach Stuart Pearce commented that he had wanted several players from Euro 2012 in his squad, despite the FA insisting that they were not up for selection. Had we had the likes of Danny Welbeck, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Phil Jones, we might have proved a much bigger threat against the internationally-experienced Brazil. Nevertheless, we stood strong against them and I look forward to them sticking the sword into Senegal and the U.A.E.. Uruguay will be a much tougher proposition, but a few more games and I think Team GB will be able to do the host nation proud.
In brief other news in this game, it was Sandro of Tottenham Hotspur that scored the first goal, catchiing out James Tomkins and Steele with a classy header. Rafael of Manchester United also had a great game and certainly could be a Brazilian star of the future. Along with Chelsea’s possible signing of Oscar and continued interest in the likes of “Hulk”, the EPL continues to be a hotbed of talent – even if it’s not ours.