Wilshere reveals English desire to play like Barca
The England players have been watching videos of Barcelona in an attempt to emulate the style of a team universally regarded as the best in world football.
A major feature of Saturday's 2-0 win over Wales was the way England pressed their opponents whenever they lost the ball and ultimately dominated possession in a similar fashion to Barcelona in their Champions League victory over Arsenal earlier this month.
For Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, watching the footage of that 3-1 defeat in the Nou Camp might have been personally painful but he admitted that it had been a worthwhile experience.
"We watched the videos a couple of days ago of the game against us and the way they press high," he said. " They are the best at it in the world and we have to learn from teams like that."
That pressing was particularly evident among the central midfield trio of Wilshere, Scott Parker and Frank Lampard, who collectively gelled to provide an impressive balance to the England team.
The inclusion of Parker gave particular licence for Wilshere to push forward. "Scott has been in the form of his life for his club and he has brought it to international level," said Wilshere.
"When you have a player like Scott holding, you know you can rely on him to make the tackles and win the ball back for you. The midfield shape worked well. We play it at Arsenal and it works better with one holding and two going forward."
With Steven Gerrard recovering from his groin injury, the competition in midfield is intensifying, although manager Fabio Capello has indicated Wilshere's place is currently secure.
Indeed, with Parker performing so well on Saturday in the specialist holding role, it is Lampard's place that has faced particular scrutiny. "With England, that happens," said the Chelsea midfielder. "I've been around a long time and been lucky enough to be very regular and I tried not to let it concern me.
"The benefit of having an extra man in midfield showed itself against Wales. The three of us in there, particularly in the first half, allowed us to really get a grip of the game." (© Daily Telegraph, London)