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Kenny Cunningham | Why Colombia behaviour was almost a "compliment" to England


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England have moved one more step towards a World Cup final with Sweden standing between the Three Lions and a semi final spot. 

Former Ireland defender Kenny Cunningham has been impressed by Gareth Southgate's side and spoke with Keith Andrews about this current English side and his thoughts on the win over Colombia.

"I wouldn’t be getting overly excited. I was pleased England won. It’s been a totally different type of England with the brand of football they’ve been playing," he said.

"They’ve shown enough to show that they’re going to be a dangerous team. There’s a real opportunity there for them. I was pleased that they won last night. People have just been getting more excited about them reaching a World Cup semi final as well as the final itself."

Discussing the pros and cons of the current team as well as potential tweaks to personnel and system, Kenny said: "Southgate has got confidence in Sterling. He hasn’t been at his best. Decision-making is letting him down. His energy levels, running the channels, he’s very direct, he draws players. They’re gonna be very dangerous. I’m not convinced in them defensively. Kyle Walker isn’t a good defender. They haven’t really been tested yet. But they have a great chance of going far in this.

Overall, Kenny's impressed by what England have had to offer in Russia.

"The most impressive thing about Southgate is how he’s set up his team tactically. This system for them was the best way forward. They all have a clear understanding of how to play. They’re looking to work the ball even under pressure and that hasn’t changed over the competition. They look very comfortable in this system and everyone knows their role in this team," he said.

"I like what I’m seeing. I’d love to see Danny Rose come in. I think the likes of him and Trippier and what they can give you up the pitch with their link up play, I think there’s still more to come from them. There’s a lot of good variation to their set pieces. They’re leaning heavily on set pieces. I'd like to see more from open play.

"I don’t think we’ve seen the very best of England yet. With Russia and Croatia, as things stand, I’d give England a slight advantage over all them teams in terms of getting to a World Cup final.

"Columbia just didn’t have anybody in that central area of the pitch that could link up play. James [Rodriguez] was a big miss. They had absolutely nothing. I felt bad for Falcao up front. They were panicking and hitting hopeless balls up front to him. I think their play was to disrupt England, they were almost in fear of England, and I think that’s a compliment to this English side.

"But it was England who were the more composed and actually played though the pressure and has been one of the most impressive things about England’s play."

Stephen Kierans


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