Liverpool’s Gerrard & Chelsea’s Lampard excel in holding roles
Sharethematch.com looks at Steven Gerrard's performance in a defensive midfield role against France on Monday
Are Gerrard and Lampard too defensively alike now?
One of the age-old debates of the modern England team has been whether Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard can play together as a pair in central midfield.
That debate has been rendered meaningless at Euro 2012 of course, owing to the Chelsea midfielder being ruled out with a thigh injury.
Many believe that because both Lampard and Gerrard are outstanding attacking midfielders for their respective clubs, essentially the same player, neither are able or willing to sit back and protect the defence.
That has become a vital component of an international side.
As a result, for so long one of them was played out of position, with Gerrard usually the one sacrificed to the left wing or as a second striker.
Perversely, in recent times, both have proved they can now play a deeper role to good effect.
Lampard was outstanding as a sitting midfielder for Chelsea as they first saw off Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final, and then against Bayern Munich as they won their first European cup.
Meanwhile, Gerrard was superb against France, as England opened their Euros campaign with a credible 1-1 draw.
The England captain played extremely deep alongside Scott Parker, and defended brilliantly. He also kept the ball well and his assist for Joleon Lescott was outstanding.
It would have been interesting to have seen what Roy Hodgson would have done tactically if Lampard had also been available.
Clearly, perhaps due to their advancing years, both are now capable of playing the withdrawn midfield role. It may well be that neither are as effective in and around the striker now though, so maybe they would still be unable to play together.
Only this time, would it be because both are too defensive-minded? Perhaps fortunately for Hodgson, he doesn’t have that decision to make.
Is Hart really Europe’s best?
It seems to be a universally accepted view in this country that Joe Hart is not only the best goalkeeper in the Premier League, but also the best in Europe.
This would presumably mean the Manchester City keeper has overtaken Iker Casillas, Manuel Neuer, Hugo Lloris and even Gianluigi Buffon in the last couple of seasons.
Hart is clearly a talent, and he has had an impressive season at Eastlands, but Casillas has been in the world’s top two for about a decade now, he has 132 caps at the age of 31 and showed again against Italy how good a keeper he is, while he now commands his box a lot better than when he first burst on to the scene.
Neuer and Lloris have shown over the last three or four seasons in Europe that they are capable of producing incredible save after incredible save.
And even at the ripe old age of 34, Buffon is still right up there, if not quite the same player he was six years ago at his peak.
On Monday night, Hart flapped at a few crosses, struggled to hold several shots, and while not at fault for the goal, you can’t help but feel one of the four keepers above probably would have stopped it.
At 25, Hart is still relatively young in goalkeeping terms, but Lloris and Neuer are not much older.
Perhaps, as the nation has decided not to overhype England’s chances, there is a need to rave about something else instead.