England 0-2 Australia: Shooting, passing, and positioning data analysis

Jess Park of England and Australia's Kyra Cooney-Cross battle for the ball
England's striker Jess Park (R) vies with Australia's forward Kyra Cooney-Cross (C) during the International football friendly match between England and Australia at the Gtech Community Stadium in Brentford, west London on April 11, 2023. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

England suffered their first defeat after a 30-match unbeaten run with Sarina Wiegman on Tuesday against Australia.

A remarkable achievement, but a defeat against the Matildas could do wonders for the European champions on their way to the World Cup. The sentiment has different directions after the game, but one of the more common feedback on this England team is that they couldn’t progress as much as they would like.

But is that the truth? In this article, we will look more closely to the data and visualise if the aforementioned argument is right or not.

England vs Australia — Shooting

First, we look at the shooting profiles of the two teams during this particular match.

England have created many shots in the box and outside of it, which suggests that they don’t have any problem creating opportunities to shoot from there. England have 16 shots, with 12 from them coming inside the box.

Australia might have struggled a little bit more to create many meaningful chances, looking at their five shots in this game. However, they did make the most of the opportunities and were more clinical on the day. This suggests that the attack doesn’t have to worry that much, but that the defence has to be more alert in these rather rare opportunities.

England vs Australia — Positioning

In the image above you can see the pass networks of both sides. These pass networks show the average position of every play based on the passes they make and receive. The arrows indicate directions for pass combinations that have occurred more than three times before the first substitution was made.

England’s passing map is very attacking-minded, with emphasis on Ella Toone, Alessia Russo and Lauren Hemp in attack. Also, Chloe Kelly and Georgia Stanway do come high up the pitch.

The pivotal role here is for Keira Walsh — and that’s also the vital thing in this story. Australia managed to stretch England wide on the flanks and play direct football, but how they neutralised the most threat by neutralising Walsh.

You can see this by how Mary Fowler, Kyra Cooney-Cross and Katrina Gorry are located on this map.

England vs Australia — Passing

In the passing dashboard above, you can see four different types of passes: all passes, progressive passes, passes on the opposition’s half, and the passes from own half.

For England, you can see that they have many passes overall. The progressive passes do succeed mostly on the right wing, but with a lot of errors. What’s remarkable about the passes from the opposition’s half is that England pass back a lot — as you can see with the arrows pointing to their own goal.

It suggest that they sometimes didn’t have a way of solving breaking through.

In the passing dashboard above, you can see four different types of passes: all passes, progressive passes, passes on the opposition’s half, and passes from their own half.

For Australia, you can see they don’t have as many passes as England. More unsuccessful passes and from the progressive passes, we can see that they really want to be direct and connect with the attacking instantly from the back. They didn’t utilise the flanks as much, but want to have control of possession and passes it towards the central zones.

Final thoughts

To answer the question whether England had difficulties progressing on the pitch, there are two answers.

If we look at the passing profile, we can see that England did have difficulties with their passing and progressing up the pitch. That’s reflected in the passes that go back to the defenders. That resulted in long passing and depending on crossing.

The other part of the answer is that England didn’t have difficulties with progressing up the pitch, as the attacking-minded players, stood quite high on the pitch and tried to operate from there. This, however, was also one of the weaknesses as Australia sought to exploit that in transition.

England might have difficulties progressing up the pitch, but it’s their defence in transition phases that might be more worrying for England.

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