Jermain Defoe, at least, inspired something different from an all-too-familiar state of affairs on the international stage
MONDAY’S BIG STORIES
England plod untested along well-worn qualifying path
England are the perfect case study for overhauling international football, if only for the way they negotiate qualifying groups with such tedious ease just so they can fall flat on their biennial major-tournament faces.
The 2-0 win over Lithuania at Wembley felt like something we’d sat through a thousand times before – from the packed visiting defence to the meaningless last 20 minutes, via the atmosphere that felt more like a late-afternoon high street than an international football match.
Just as you start to question the wisdom of analysing the individual and collective contributions, though, you realise that Southgate has only these formalities against 107th-ranked inconveniences to mould his team into a battle-ready machine. These might not seem like the rigorous conditions to discover if Michael Keane is made of the right stuff for international football but, until someone finds a better way of structuring it all, this is international football.
IN OTHER NEWS
Being a back-up goalkeeper must be a tricky existence. You do all the drills, all the warm-ups, and then sit there for 90 minutes each week on the off-chance that you might be called upon in an emergency.
That leaves a lot of time to think about extra-curricular activities (not a euphemism, for once) and Chelsea’s no.2 number one Asmir Begovic has taken one look at Juan Mata’s notoriously charming blog…and taken things to a new level.Why is it weird that a Premier League footballer has his own podcast? Not sure, but let’s all have a listen and find out if our Monday morning commute needs Asmir Begovic talking about sport