How does Adam Lallana fit into England's World Cup plans?
Adam Lallana likes to drift inside and find space in between the midfield and defence. His dribbling is very good in this regard while he also draws a lot of fouls. His passing is one of his main fortes, as his vision surpasses many of his peers. Adam Lallana averages 2 key passes a game. He likes to pass the ball, easily trumping in passing, crosses and lofted balls among all his competitors.
The thing about Lallana is that while he likes to keep the ball down and pass it around, he is just as willing to do the dirty work and track his full back; although sometimes his habit of cutting in leaves him trailing his marker if the ball is turned over. Still, his defensive tackles and interceptions are an added benefit to his overall game.
Lallana’s ability to cut in and interchange with Rooney as well, being one of the few imaginative and creative sparks in the team, looks set to earn him a first team spot in the team alongside a more out-and-out winger. Whether that is on the left or right however; remains to be seen.
How will he impact the group stages?
After the three international warmup friendlies against Peru, Ecuador and Honduras; England will start their World Cup campaign in Group D – containing Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica. Assuming Lallana plays well in the warmups and his competitors don’t significantly outshine him, Lallana should be expected to start against Italy.
Italy have seemed to finally settle on the 4-3-3 formation, taking advantage of their new influx on wingers. They can however, switch to a 4-4-2 diamond or a 3-5-2 with relative ease; no-one really knows what they will play (except Cesare Prandelli). Still, whatever they line up with, Lallana would be expected to play in the right hand side of midfield. Chellini at the left is a converted centre-back and thus is not a major threat on the attack.
England won’t see much of the ball and will most likely resort to Hodgson’s pragmatic tactics, which will see Lallana have to make the best of whatever little chances he gets. His penchant to cut and find space may well be rewarded. Andrea Pirlo has been a revelation in the twilight of his career, but his lack of mobility due to age may well be exploited by Lallana. Additionally, depending on which formation Roy starts with, Lallana could well be tasked to be the man to stop Pirlo – in a similar vein to what Oscar did with Chelsea 2 years ago. Such a performance would go a long way to making his stock grow. Lallana will need to be proficient in possession while also finishing whatever chance he gets. This is his chance to shine.
After the match against Italy, England face a daunting and potentially do-or-die match against Uruguay, spearheaded by the daunting duo of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. There is also the 2010 World Cup’s Golden Ball winner Diego Forlan to contend with – though age has caught up with him since then.
Uruguay are mainly a 4-4-2 team, though they have also like Italy showed a penchant to chop and change – having played a 3-5-2 and 4-3-3 over the past year. However, their defence is slow and shaky while their 4-4-2 leaves space in between the lines. Provided Roy Hodgson gets his tactics right, Adam Lallana can wreak havoc where he plays in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3.
England finish their group-stage against Costa Rica. Given the difficult opposition in the previous two games, chances are, they’ll need to get a result against the North American side to ensure progress to the knock-out round. Coach Pinto have been seen deploying a 5-4-1 formation in the past, which they’re expected to do so in Brazil as well.
However, it might be fair to speculate the possibility of a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude in the last group game. Either way, Lallana’s task will be simple and similar to the previous games. Hodgson will look to play to his side’s strengths, rather than containing Costa Rica and Lallana’s role of creativity and supply from wide areas will be retained.