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In defence of Raheem Sterling – he was the secret to breaking down Sweden

He missed two golden chances but at least he was in the position to take them

There’s no denying it, Raheem Sterling is a special player.

You don’t become a starter in a record-breaking title-winning team managed by Pep Guardiola without having elite football intelligence and the quality to execute.

People say he turns into a completely different prospect when he pulls on an England, but in reality Sterling is England’s secret to unlocking tight defences.

We were willing this to go in so much

Getty - Contributor
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We were willing this to go in so much

He missed two golden chances, one when he was offside, against Sweden today and there have certainly been a few critics on the internet.

You know, the experts.

Both chances will have left people screaming at the TV as Sterling fluffed his lines having been put through by a sublime Jordan Henderson chip.

He seemed to dally far too long on the ball and his shot was ultimately blocked, having been one on one with Sweden’s goalkeeper Robin Olsen.

Another golden opportunity

PA:Press Association
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Another golden opportunity

However, Sterling is actually England’s most dangerous attacking weapon and the chances he both created and missed against Tunisia and Sweden only go to prove that further.

Any time the Swedes allowed any space behind their back line Sterling was the man to run in behind to exploit it.

England struggled for movement up front during the opening stages as Sweden decided to play complete anti-football.

But just before half time, the Three Lions were swarming the goal and the charge was led by Sterling.

The touch was dreamy

EPA
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The touch was dreamy

He continually made the runs that pinned the Swedish defenders back and allowed the midfield a bit of space to find him

And if Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo had done the touch to kill Henderson’s ball dead as it looped over his shoulder we would never stop talking about it.

Lingard was busy but not sparkling in midfield while Dele Alli lost possession in midfield on several occasions but you could see sheer fear in defenders eyes when Sterling was on the ball.

We love you Sterling

Reuters
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We love you Sterling

He may been nervous in front of goal for England, but with the expectations of a nation on his shoulders it’s understandable.

It would be far more worrying if he wasn’t getting the chances.

Just keep doing what you’re Raheem, we’re behind you.