Kieran Trippier has delivered one of the classic World Cup lines: suggesting the quality of set pieces at the Qatar World Cup has suffered because players are struggling to adapt to the ball.
The wait for a side to score a free‑kick during the group stage ended when Morocco beat Belgium 2-0 on Sunday and Trippier, who has been taking England’s attacking set pieces, has noticed that the balls being used in Qatar are lighter.
“Every time I’ve crossed the ball I’ve felt the balls are a bit different but there are no excuses really,” the England right-back said.
“I would just say the balls are a bit different, but it is not the heat or anything. I feel it’s a bit lighter.
“It feels if you put too much power on it it’ll just fly away. But it’s one of them where we have to deal with that; all of us do. We train with the same ones. It’s a football, isn’t it?”
England overhit a lot of set pieces during their draw with the USA last Friday. But Trippier joked that the lack of free-kick goals might simply be down to a lack of skill. “Maybe it is the players,” he said.
Trippier said England needed an improved performance when they look to win their group by beating Wales on Tuesday night in the final Group B match. The Newcastle defender refused to get into a war of words with former England players who used their punditry roles to criticise Gareth Southgate’s side after the USA game.
“It’s opinions and everyone is entitled to them,” Trippier said. “We know what we need to do. We know we can go up a few more levels. They’re all behind us, they all want us to do well.”