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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 June 2006, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
World Cup scouting for England
Formation and tacticsHow did Eriksson use his substitutions?England extrasCan England win the World Cup?

By Howard Nurse
BBC Sport website football editor at Old Trafford

England's final warm-up game before the World Cup ended in a convincing 6-0 win over Jamaica at Old Trafford.

Peter Crouch grabbed a hat-trick while Michael Owen and Frank Lampard also got on the scoresheet in a match which was manager Sven-Goran Eriksson's last on home soil.

BBC Sport finds out what the coach will have learned from the international friendly.

FORMATION & TACTICS

Exactly one week before the World Cup opener against Paraguay, coach Eriksson stopped tinkering and reverted to his tried and trusted 4-4-2 formation.

Eriksson adopted an unfamiliar 4-1-4-1 system in the 3-1 victory over Hungary, but he knew Saturday against Jamaica was not the time for experimenting. It was the time for getting things right.

England striker's Michael Owen (left) and Peter Crouch are set to start in England's opening World Cup game against Paraguay
Owen and Crouch are a threat with their little and large partnership

Liverpool's Jamie Carragher switched to right-back in place of Gary Neville, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury, which, according to Eriksson has been troubling him "for a while", while Crouch partnered Owen in attack.

England rarely strayed away from 4-4-2 against a Jamaican side which was not afraid to stick the boot in on occasions and left a number of their opponents nursing bruised ankles and feet.

Eriksson put his faith in Owen playing off Crouch - and barring more injury disasters, that will be the front pairing against Paraguay in Frankfurt.

Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard looked more comfortable together in midfield. Gerrard appeared at ease playing a less expansive role, while Lampard pushed forward well and supported the strikers to good effect.

David Beckham and Joe Cole revelled in their wide midfield berths - with Beckham's dead ball delivery again proving world-class.

It was Crouch who took the plaudits with a man-of-the-match performance. Three goals and, had he not overdone the showboating with the penalty, it would have been four.

SVEN'S SUBSTITUTIONS

Predictably, Eriksson was keen to give as many players as possible a run out, but he had to introduce Sol Campbell when John Terry asked to come off because of a minor knee strain.

Ashley Cole was also forced off - with a thigh strain and had a precautionary scan afterwards - which gave Wayne Bridge a welcome opportunity.

Both Campbell and Bridge did well, barely putting a foot wrong and showing that England have decent cover at the back should injuries occur in Germany.

David James had a second-half without alarm, and like Paul Robinson in the first period, pulled off a couple of smart saves but Jamaica were never allowed to mount a serious close-range attack in the well-marshalled England penalty box.

England captain David Beckham
Beckham's delivery has been nothing short of immaculate in the last two games

Aaron Lennon, Michael Carrick and Stewart Downing also had a taste of the action late on with Lennon looking good on the right, while Carrick did himself no harm with a calm cameo in the holding role.

Eriksson chose not to give the 70,000-plus crowd an opportunity to see teenager Theo Walcott in action.

The decision to give both Crouch and Owen 90 minutes together was a good one and probably already decided before kick-off.

In Manchester, on a glorious June afternoon, the England coach picked the 11 players whom he plans to start against Paraguay.

There was no chance for Owen Hargreaves. Despite earning rave reviews playing in a deep midfield role for Bayern Munich, there is no appetite from England's followers to see him on the field. Maybe the penny has finally dropped with Sven.

Owen struggled against Hungary but here he was much better, a fact acknowledged by Eriksson, who claimed the Newcastle striker was now fully fit.

Crouch carried on from where he left off against Hungary and he has established himself as a key member of the side.

The Liverpool man always looked comfortable. His control and passing were both immaculate for a man so tall and his link play was particularly eye-catching.

Eriksson was quick to point out that he had criticised Crouch in the dressing room for casually chipping his penalty over the crossbar.

The England coach rightly felt Crouch had not taken the moment seriously enough and had taken the penalty in a "joke" way and wasted the chance to both score and to properly practice taking a spot-kick in a match situation as opposed to on the training pitch.

ENGLAND EXTRAS

There is no more time to find out answers to any remaining questions. It's for real now.

So what did we learn from Saturday's stroll in the sunshine?

  • There are no worries going into the tournament about goalkeeper Paul Robinson. He's a great shot-stopper, commands his box and is comfortable with crosses.

    WORLD CUP FORM GUIDES

  • Ashley Cole has played himself into form at the right time after missing so much of the domestic season for Arsenal.

  • Jamie Carragher is more than adequate standing in at right-back.

  • Rio Ferdinand is back to his best and John Terry is also at the top of his form.

  • Steven Gerrard is ready to try to win the World Cup for England. He was outstanding and has such an enormous appetite to do well for the Three Lions. He seemed content playing in a slightly deeper role than for Liverpool and with Frank Lampard bombing forward when he could, the pair can live up to the sum of their parts.

  • David Beckham has stopped under-hitting corners. His delivery of corners and free-kicks is as good as anybody who will be in Germany - something that's vital to England's cause.

  • As unlikely as it would have been this time last year, in Peter Crouch, England suddenly have a new striking hero. He has achieved a cult following, thanks mainly to his robotic goal celebration, although he did not dare do it when he scored his third goal some minutes after the penalty miss.

  • Michael Owen - on the face of it anyway - answered the doubts surrounding his fitness. Another week of training and the hitman should be close to 100% ready.

  • Sven-Goran Eriksson has taken charge of his final England match at home.

    WORLD CUP VERDICT

    It was no coincidence that England should play a team from the Caribbean for their final World Cup warm-up match.

    England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson
    Eriksson enjoyed his send-off from the Old Trafford crowd

    The second Group B match in Germany is against Trinidad and Tobago and Eriksson expects their style to be similar to that of Jamaica's.

    A big positive was England's improvement when it came to keeping the ball. While Jamaica had a couple of decent 10-minute spells, England were largely in command and did not slip into bad habits by squandering possession.

    England scored six and could easily have had more. Some of the build-up play for the goals was world-class and left Jamaica chasing shadows.

    Eriksson is convinced Gerrard and Lampard can play together and gets annoyed when journalists suggest otherwise.

    The Swede said he "cannot believe" the doubters, insisting the pair have only played badly together on one occasion - during the shambolic defeat in Northern Ireland when the whole team played pathetically.

    England must not play Owen as a lone striker. Crouch (given Rooney's absence) must start alongside him - and will next Saturday.

    So can England win the World Cup?

    Eriksson thinks so: "We need to play very good football, defend and attack well, have some luck, suffer no more injuries and have fair referees."

    One vital question remains though.

    If England are to go all the way, then the out-going Eriksson must be bold and not allow games to drift or ebb away if things aren't going to plan.

    If the coach can get it right, then England might just have a chance.



  • SEE ALSO
    Eriksson to use Crouch in opener
    03 Jun 06 |  England
    England 6-0 Jamaica
    03 Jun 06 |  England
    World Cup profiles
    29 May 06 |  England
    World Cup scouting for England
    31 May 06 |  England
    World Cup scouting for England
    26 May 06 |  England
    England team guide
    22 May 06 |  England
    Pick your England team
    08 May 06 |  Squad selectors
    World Cup schedule
    25 May 06 |  Schedule
    Have your say on the World Cup
    28 Apr 06 |  Football
    BBC World Cup coverage
    27 Apr 06 |  BBC coverage


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