Three things we learnt from England's 0-0 draw with Slovenia

Joe Hart was England’s best player in their 0-0 draw with Slovenia in Lubjana, a fact that tells you Gareth Southgate’s side didn’t deserve much more than a point. This was supposed to be a game that suited England, a true contest with some cut and thrust following Saturday’s training exercise against Malta at Wembley. Slovenia lived up to that billing, flying out of the traps and pressing England very high in the early stages. The hosts were nearly rewarded 10 minutes in when Roman Bezjak latched onto a poor back pass (a theme of the evening); Hart saved, before Jasmin Kurtic struck the post with a follow up effort.

The same player brought out a stunning save by Hart two minutes into the second period, when the Torino goalkeeper somehow clawed his glancing header clear. The Three Lions had their moments; Jesse Lingard stinging the palms of Jan Oblak with a fine effort and substituted Wayne Rooney firing just wide of the post. We suggested three things we learned from a watchable though error-strewn 0-0 draw.

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John Stones was one of Southgate’s better performers, and his presence in the team promises to give England an extra dimension for years to come. The Manchester City defender is probably England’s best passer of a ball (which doesn’t say much for the midfield). If England are to play through him and build from the back, they must fully commit to it. Slovenia’s high pressing made this a risky tactic, and although some will suggest they should have played longer, had England been better with the ball there was plenty of space on offer. Too often the centre backs,

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Jordan Henderson or Eric Dier looked up to see players running away from them.
Against a good pressing team, England must decide whether to play through the pressure or hit their pacey forward line early. Against Slovenia, they did neither one nor the other. The return of Adam Lallana, Jack Wilshere and to an extent Raheem Sterling will help them immensely; all are very good on the half turn and will give Stones an Co a passing option.

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