History dictates that England v Sweden is always a difficult game to be excited by. A long history of draws pretty much pre-empt any hope of joy coming England’s way, yet like clockwork, the media circus swirled around Kiev before kick-off.
News of Andy Carroll’s inclusion in the starting eleven went viral and hopes were imminently pinned on the £35million Liverpool striker to make an impact. For me though, the eleven had a far more important inclusion, in the form of Manchester United hitman, Danny Welbeck.
Welbeck, 21, was starting his third consecutive game in an England shirt, following a goal against Belgium in England’s final warm-up game and an earnest performance in the Euro 2012 opener against France.
The Manchester born forward, was steadfastly becoming the face of Roy Hodgson’s England and the spearhead of the England front line.
Welbeck started the game strongly, his movement both on and off the ball is a credit to the Manchester United youth system who blooded him, yet at half-time the hype machine had firmly lit a rocket under Andy Carroll, not too dissimilar to that of his astronomical transfer fee. Welbeck was the forgotten man and Carroll the English saviour.
There was no doubt that Carroll deserved credit. He had worked hard and done so at a frantic pace in the opening 45 minutes, notching a goal in the process but for all his effort and doggedness, Welbeck’s effortless guile was beginning to shine.
12 minutes from time, Welbeck scored what proved to be the winning goal, with a finish that was both planned and executed in supreme fashion and with Wayne Rooney’s suspension now at an end, fans, pundits and critics will all look to Hodgson for a decision on who Rooney will displace in the side.
The statistics for the game stack up in Welbeck’s favour, proving he was far more integral to the good play England displayed at times over his counterpart Carroll.
Welbeck’s passing completion rate for example stood at a mighty 96%, misplacing just one of his twenty-seven passes. This is of stark contrast to Carroll’s 56%, strong evidence of how well rounded Welbeck’s game has become and how key his champion like link-up play is.
Rooney will surely start, as Hodgson himself has implied, so Roy must now decide on who will make way for the boisterous number ten. For me, it’s a no-brainer.