England will win against France. Why am I so sure? Well, many disingenuous soccer sites make predictions based on starting lineups, the form and presence of star players, and a recent results. Here at Futfanatico, we solidly base our predictions on centuries old naval and cavalry warfare history. And archers. Therefore, I repeat, England will defeat France. It has happened before. It will happen again.
The only question is how.
There are only two possibilities.First, this game may mirror the Battle of Agincourt.
Now, I know your initial suspicions. The “Hundred Years’ War” between England and France didn’t even really last exactly one hundred years. What can we learn from this misnomer of an era? Well, for starters, leadership is important. At the Battle of Agincourt, English King Henry V personally participated in the hand-to-hand fighting. Charles VI? Chilling somewhere else in France, going insane in the membrane. Result? England wins. Boo Yeah! Similarity to the upcoming soccer game? Roy Hodgson himself has personally participated in some of England’s training sessions. In times of trouble, the lads can look to his bony knees, pasty calves, and athletic shorts. What could be more inspiring?
Second, England won the Battle of Agincourt thanks to a direct, vertical, and aggressive attack. Henry V relied on a novel weapon, the longbow, and the aiming of Welsh and English archers. France? They lost due to an intricate and sluggish attack built on close quarter control of knives and slashing movements. Plus, France over-relied on mercenaries from Northern Africa. Similarity to the upcoming game? Hodgson plans to deploy the vertical attack of Andy Carroll and Ashley Young. Andy will be the man-at-arms in the centre and should provide the physical presence to absorb blows, thus allowing Ashley Young to making piercing runs. Stewart Downing could even conceivably provide some long-distance attacks with his curiously dormant left foot. The absence of a Welsh archer, like Gareth Bale, will be felt, but not fatal.
Third, Henry’s armed forces emerged victorious because they remained compact and coordinated. The Three Lions were outnumbered by France and in enemy territory. Still, they succeeded with classic 4-4-2 tactics. In fact, the English men-at-arms always formed a line, shoulder-to-shoulder, that was four deep. The English also kept their distance between lines and relied on the archers, positioned on the flank, to do most of the heavy damage. Similarity to the game? Shit. A carbon copy. Six hundred years later, and another 4-4-2.
Thus, England may win due to leadership, vertical attacks, and 4-4-2 tactics.
Secondly, this game could be another Battle of Trafalgar The Napoleonic Wars. Gotta love’em. In October 1805, the Royal Navy defeated combined French and Spanish maritime forces. How did the Brits do it? Once again, tactics. Admiral Lord Nelson eschewed the traditional continental approach to maritime warfare. Spain and France preferred to attack in a single line, so that one ship could interchange more easily with another. If the SS Pique moved to the front of the attack, then the HMS Busquets would slot into the vacant place. Lord Nelson, though, insisted on two solid banks of boats. He preferred simplicity in formation and individual assignments, and didn’t gamble on coordination, communication, and interchanging movements.The SS Parker rarely strayed far from the HMS Terry.
Similarity to today’s game? Well, Roy’s lineup favors two banks of four. The advantage? Each defender and midfielder knows his role and place on the pitch. The disadvantage? Predictability. An individual mismatch or triangle passing sequence can unlock a static back line. Still, England has two hundred years of naval wartime experience with two banks of four. If the players are comfortable with any system of combat, it is that one.
Thus, England may win this game because of the rigid two bank formation. It’s not easy on the eyes and you cede a lot of ocean water to the opposition, but it just may work.
Now, of course, many of you will say: didn’t France beat England at the Euros in 2004? Isn’t that more relevant? Isn’t soccer different from war? Hasn’t a lot of time passed since the Battles of Trafalgar and Agincourt? No. You are wrong. In these glorious English victories, certain principles emerge. And these principles ensure an English win today. We must not question the 4-4-2, vertical attacks, nor two banks of four. The Euro 2004 loss is a sore spot, but Zizou doesn’t even, like, play for France anymore. It was an anomaly. Agincourt and Trafalgar were not. And Roy’s boys will follow the proud British tactical traditions of yesteryear to a victory today.
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