Are England Too Defensive?

    Are England Too Defensive?
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    England came through their 2020 European Championship qualifying group without too many problems. They finished top of Group A, 6 points clear of second place Czech Republic, losing one game.

    The defeat came away from home at the hands of the Czech’s, losing 2-1 in Prague, despite taking an early lead in the match.

    England scored a total of 37 goals in the group from 8 matches, with only Belgium scoring more but they had an extra team in their group meaning they played 10 games. However, the suspicion remained regarding England’s defence and the soft spot of the team just waiting to be taken advantage of by better nations.

    The defensive frailties were shown in the defeat against Netherlands in the Nations League finals, in the defeat by the Czech Republic and twice against Kosovo during qualifying.

    Perhaps the most alarming defensive display came in the home fixture against Kosovo during European Championship qualifying. England won the match but conceded 3 goals at home and despite recording a 4-0 win in the away fixture against Kosovo, former England international Chris Waddle said, “When teams have a go at England, they really struggle and that is a concern. This is not Germany and France.”

    Following the victory in Kosovo, England appear to have become a more defensive team. You only have to look at their current Nations League group to see how the goals have dried up for the Three Lions.

    In 5 matches played, England have scored only 3 goals, the same number as Iceland who have been relegated to League B. England started the group with a narrow 1-0 win in Iceland before being held to a 0-0 draw in Denmark.

    The 2-1 home win over Belgium was a good result but England returned to their struggling ways in attack as they lost 1-0 at home against Denmark. Having previously defeated the number one ranked nation in the world, big things were expected of England in the match against Denmark but they were disappointing, especially in attack.

    The same can be said in their most recent fixture in Belgium, where England failed to seriously test Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois throughout the 90 minutes.

    Yes, England were missing the services of Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford in attack but Gareth Southgate has plenty of attacking talent from which to choose. It appeared as though, in the second half, Belgium allowed England possession of the ball knowing they did not have the ability to break them down and the hosts were correct.

    Southgate seems determined to try and make the 5 at the back system work for England. However, the balance of the team seems to be off at the moment, with too much emphasis on trying to defend and not enough going forward.

    This has led to increased criticism from England fans and it will be interesting to see how Southgate reacts ahead of the European Championship this summer.

    Predictions for UEFA Nations League

    Home team - Away team Tip
    flag_253 UNL
    SwitzerlandUkraine
    17/11/2020 19:45
    X
    flag_253 UNL
    Bosnia-HerzegovinaItaly
    18/11/2020 19:45
    X
    flag_253 UNL
    PolandHolland
    18/11/2020 19:45
    X
    flag_253 UNL
    BelgiumDenmark
    18/11/2020 19:45
    X

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