England v Portugal: Talking points

OVERLY CAUTIOUS PLAY

The dilemma of the evening was how to regard the sending-off of Bruno Alves. How a manager reacts to the opposition losing a player tells you much about his philosophy.

Roy Hodgson should have immediately told his full-backs to attack Portugal more. He should have used the dismissal to expose Ricardo Carvalho's lack of pace. Instead, Wayne Rooney dropped deeper and England looked less, not more, ambitious.

VARDY'S INEFFECTIVE NIGHT

Jamie Vardy is a tenacious player who likes to harry and hustle. This is not a style that always works at international level and on Thursday night, the Leicester striker had no impact on the game at all.

Almost everything he did, the referee took exception to. His contribution to the evening was to give Portugal more free kicks than they could have hoped for.

HARD TO FEEL CONFIDENT

After all the experimentation, the conclusions feel confused. Even in victory, this was an anti-climactic mish-mash.

Hodgson might point to promise in his tactical tweaks but it was not always easy to discern much logical pattern to his team's approach.

For long periods, five of the outfield players were effectively being used out of position, if Chris Smalling's employment as a left-sided centre-half is taken into account.

DON'T RULE LOSERS OUT

Judging what threat will be carried by Portugal in France is tricky on this evidence alone, especially with Cristiano Ronaldo still sunning himself on a yacht in Ibiza and Pepe's snarl also absent after the Champions League final.

Certainly Fernando Santos' side lacked an obvious goal threat with Nani, playing as a centre-forward.

They can console themselves that they have one of the world's most potent attacking players ready to return, a figure they should have no problem incorporating into their system.

Should England meet them later in the tournament, then Portugal will surely pose more of a threat than this.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2016, with the headline 'England v Portugal: Talking points'. Print Edition | Subscribe