England 2-1 Wales: Vardy and Sturridge the Heroes but Rooney the Star

Wayne Rooney Euro 2016

Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge were the heroes in Thursday’s crucial Euro 2016 encounter as they scored goals to give England a vital 2-1 victory over neighboring rivals Wales, but it was Wayne Rooney who stole the show.

Before Euro 2016 began, there were questions asked about whether or not Wayne Rooney was still good enough to play at this level. Of course he is! But with two brilliant performances against Russia and now Wales to start this tournament, he has silenced all his critics and surely everyone must now know how good this player truly is, even at the age of thirty. It’s only recently that Wayne Rooney switched to midfield, but he’s adapted to his new position so quickly and is probably already better at it than 95% of the centre midfielders in the world who have been playing that position for years and years.

Wayne Rooney Eng.jpg
Wayne Rooney was awarded the man of the match award despite Daniel Sturridge’s game winning goal.

The England captain dominated the game against Wales. Every attack came through him on Thursday afternoon. Not in the sense that he was creating chance after chance for his teammates to score like a Payet or Kroos (although 5 chances created is still impressive), but he was always the key man and always involved whenever England had the ball in a dangerous area. Rooney also put together a series of impressive long passes, one in particular from near the halfway line that set Dele Alli free inside the box. Rooney completed 91% of his passes to give himself a total of 79 passes, most of them forward thinking, inviting balls, giving a player the opportunity to get forward and score a goal. Below is Wayne Rooney’s pass map. Notice how none of those passes are particularly short and how some of them are extremely long, beautiful passes. Only eight of his passes on the night were misplaced.

Wayne Rooney pass map
Wayne Rooney completed 91% of his passes on Wednesday, more than any other player.

Wayne Rooney makes England tick. Everything comes through him and without him, England would not have been as dominant. He had 104 touches on the ball, 20 more than any other player, completed 5 dribbles and had 3 shots. Rooney was England’s key man against Wales, silencing his critics once again. His brilliant display, deservedly earned him the man of the match award, but Wayne Rooney isn’t about the individual honours, he is all about the team. Wayne Rooney is a born leader, and England’s most important player at Euro 2016.

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