Saturday, 13 October 2012

Clash Of The International Titans

So England got the job done - although it would have been an alarming first 35 minutes until Wayne Rooney opened the scoring from the penalty spot. It has been well reported that the 5-0 defeat was actually better than the average margin of defeat that San Marino have experienced. The tiny nation's record defeat was 13-0, at home to Germany in 2006.

What usually happens in circumstances like this is a combination of massive overconfidence on the part of the favourites and a raising of the minnows' game. Well here's a look at the stats - 86% possession for England. In a year's time, when Roy Hodgson is probably on the ropes for one reason or another, the possession stats will of course be wheeled out in an attempt to prove that at least England's ball retention has improved since that 0-0 hammering dished out by Italy. The fact that San Marino were part of the itinerary will be gleefully brushed under the carpet.

A problem I have found during this international period is that people seem to question the fact that fixtures like this should even take place. I may myself be somewhat dismissive in the above paragraph - but if people are so adamant that the likes of San Marino shouldn't be taking part in international tournaments like this, then why not apply the same logic to the Premier League? This blog has previously railed against a closed Premier League (ie. no relegation) and one way to ensure San Marino never improve is to bar them from playing better opposition. I don't see how that could benefit anyone.

The same could have been said to apply to Wales in recent years. Obviously Wales have always been a couple of tiers above international football's true cannon fodder, but had their good form under Gary Speed (RIP) come at a better time they may themselves have been competing at Euro 2012. Who'd have thought that?

San Marino may only have a population of 30,000, the smallest of any UEFA country, but to get rid of them from the international arena would be heartless. Not everyone can be Spain.

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