England have yielded six or seven goals four times--twice
to the Scotland of 1878 and 1881 and twice to the Hungary of 1953 and
1954. On both sets of occasions, their opponents' styles of play
completely befuddled them. Barring a disastrous performance
against a team of yet-to-be-seen quality, it is highly unlikely England will
again suffer such one-sided defeats.
In the one case, England's emphasis on individual dribbling
skills was no match for Scotland's passing game. The game was in
its infancy in the 1870's and 1880's, of course, tactics were primitive and
hence any tactical superiority was likely to produce a skewed result.
In the other case, England were entirely unprepared for
Hungary's innovative and dynamic tactical system and superb individual
skills. English football of the early 1950's clung to the notion that it
remained superior, and the resulting complacency in its approach to the game
produced tactical rigidity and sterility. The Hungarian players'
continual interchanging of positions and their high level of technical ability
left England bewildered and stunned.
England have not yielded five goals in a
match since the 1960's.