TCM Analysis: England v Iran

We take a look at the coaching behind England's emphatic opener against Iran.

Nov 22nd 2022

Written by The Coaching Manual


England: 1-4-3-3

Iran: 1-4-4-2


First Half Review

The first game of the tournament for England and Iran started off relatively slow, with England maintaining most of the possession, pinning Iran back to their own half. The first half was delayed for some time due to the injury of Goalkeeper Beiranvand of Iran. 

Iran stayed compact centrally, forcing England out wide where they attempted a few crosses from wide areas, with Maguire hitting the crossbar with a header. However, as England began to speed up the play, more chances opened up for them. In the 35th minute, the first goal of the game came from a Shaw cross, with Bellingham heading the ball in. 

Another cross from a Shaw set piece resulted in the second, with Maguire heading down for Saka to half-volley in for the goal.

Towards the end of the half, England took advantage of a long pass from Pickford to Bellingham who drove forward with the ball, feeding Kane to cross into Sterling at the front post, who guided the ball in. 

To coach England’s excellent crossing, look at this practice from Rene Meulensteen:

Second Half Review 

With the pace slowing down, England seemed comfortable in their lead. Iran attempted to step up the pace, leaving the spaces in between the lines.

This gave more opportunities for England to attack, especially on the break. This strategy was rewarded with a counter attack from Sterling and Saka, with the latter slotting the ball home. 

Iran pushed further, and gained their first consolation goal, when Taremi hit the ball into the roof of the net for 4-1. 

Changes for England brought a wealth of attacking talent onto the field. Rashford, replacing Saka, got his reward with a brilliant chop on the inside, slotting in past the keeper.

Grealish added to England's tally following an unselfish pass from Wilson in the 90th minute of the game, earning an easy win for the Three Lions. 

Another dubious VAR decision topped off the match, when a penalty for Iran in the final seconds of the game resulted in another goal for Taremi to make the final score 6-2.

England were clinical in counter attacks leading to a shot, goal, or field position. To coach counter attacks, look at this practice from Gary Rowett:

Specific Strategy

With an excellent performance from England in attack, there must be a special mention to Rice and Bellingham for their recovery when the ball had broken England’s midfield. 

To look at how to recover and delay, look at these guides by Martin Hunter

In attack, England looked to confuse the Iran team with rotations in different areas of the field. 

Midfield Rotation


In the first half, Bellingham had a high starting position. However, he also worked off the positioning of Rice, who was anchoring the Midfield. Bellingham would often drop to receive the ball with Mount running round the back of Bellingham, creating an asymmetrical shape in the midfield. From time to time.

When the ball was switched back to the left, or overloaded the right side, this opened up the channels if Iran didn’t track the runs. 

This took intelligent movement from England. To coach this, look at Terry Moore’s practice here:

Forward Runs


Saka and Sterling understood when to take intelligent positions. Often, when England had the ball on the right side, Saka would take up positions on the left side Centre Back and wait for the winger back to press, opening up in-to-out runs to receive and penetrate the opposition.

Forward runs are a huge part of the game. In this practice by Anthony Limbrick, coach players how to make forward runs into the final third:

Stats of Game


Next Game

England will play USA next in the group phase.

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