Monday 11 December 2017

Samba kids highlight how England are left in shade

Henry Winter

It never rains but it pours for England, who arrived into a mini-monsoon in Rio and into an intensifying storm about their technical capabilities.

In a brief lull in the downpour, they even watched some Brazilian kids doing tricks on Copacabana beach that stunned England winger Theo Walcott.

The Maracana is nearer being the finished article than England.

The debate about English players' first touch, distribution and composure under pressure is a long-running one being highlighted currently as Roy Hodgson's side labour to qualify for the World Cup.

Hodgson took his players to a favela yesterday, joining in a training session at the Instituto Bola Pra Frente project funded by Sport Relief and set up by 1994 World Cup winner Jorginho, who used to live in the run-down flats overlooking the pitch.

"These kids are so technically gifted," said Walcott. "We had a stroll on the beach on Thursday and seeing some of the kids who were six or seven using their shoulders and everything to play beach volley. I can't even do that myself."

As the players gathered at Bola Pra Frente, news filtered through of Rio Ferdinand's tweets about English deficiencies.

"In the last 10 years when have England played consistently well?'' observed the Manchester United defender.

"A coaching strategy for our young teams/kids needs to be implemented to see change.

"In most PL teams, retaining the ball is done best by foreign players in the team... they are taught to pass to a man with a man on.

"So-called 'Golden Generation' obviously wasn't because we won nothing!

"Great players don't always make great teams." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Brazil v England,

Live, tomorrow, ITV 1, 8.0

Irish Independent

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