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When Xhaka praised England, he unintentionally exposed Southgate’s weakness!


England are still in Euro 2024, and are achieving excellent results in all the tournaments they have participated in under coach Gareth Southgate, who led the national team.The Three Lions“To the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, the Euro 2021 final and the 2022 World Cup quarter-finals, which they lost after Harry Kane missed a penalty kick against the French, and now they are present in the Euro semi-finals and are candidates to reach the second final in a row at the expense of the Dutch national team.

England could reach the final again, but their performances at the last Euro are a far cry from this one. Despite having an average group stage last time out, they looked like a solid side who knew what they were doing, and they did so in the Eliminations When he eliminated the German complex and continued his way to the final, which he lost on penalties to Italy.

Shaqiri praises England…and Southgate reveals

In the last edition, the English lost to the Italians despite being ahead, as the team’s excessive retreat in the second half gave Italy the opportunity to come back. It is true that they did not face this situation in the current Euro, but there are many other things that can be taken from the English national coach in the current edition.

Gareth has an arsenal of players who can make a difference, and in this regard, the Swiss star Granit Xhaka came out with statements in which he said: “The England team is not given enough credit for its performance in the current Euros, and they are a top-class team, they deserve credit, credit for every player in them, they play for the biggest clubs in the world.”

And that’s the gist of it, no one would disagree with the current Leverkusen and former Arsenal player that the Three Lions have an amazing group of top-class players who possess unique abilities compared to many other teams.

But Xhaka, perhaps unwittingly, exposed what was happening. Gareth has this group of players and yet he is unable to perform to the level of what can be achieved with this group of players.

This is not about an aesthetic or enjoyable performance – we know that this matter provokes some who exaggerate in their love of realism – but about not presenting a cohesive performance that does not make you feel all the time that you are facing a team that is threatened with farewell to the tournament, and the feeling here is not only the product of delicate feelings but is a reality that almost was proven if Jude Bellingham had not intervened to bring the English back from the airport stairs in the 95th minute or if Bukayo Saka had not fired his wonderful shot that prevented Switzerland from achieving its greatest achievements throughout its history.

Modest numbers and trembling mind

We are not here facing a case of a team that does everything but does not score, or a team that does not perform beautifully but prevents its opponents from reaching its goal, but rather a Ferrari of the latest model but its owner decides not to press the gas pedal almost!

The numbers don’t lie. The Athletic revealed that against Switzerland, for example, England scored only 0.7 expected goals, while their opponents, the Swiss, created 1.5. This was a match in which England performed better than against Slovakia.

The same website also revealed that the average number of passes made by Switzerland before an English defensive intervention after the first third, or what is known as PPDA “Passes per defensive action”, was 15.9 passes, which is a very modest number for a team that hardly presses and greatly exaggerates its retreat.

You can cite as a reference the Swiss number in the same match, which was 12.6 passes, taking into account that the lower the number, the better, as you do not give your opponent the opportunity to pass continuously without starting to put real pressure on him and try to win the ball back.

You can even see how England have been so deep in their own half in many shots including Switzerland’s goal when the score was level and the clock was ticking to 75 minutes.

Southgate has his team so far back that Switzerland’s two centre-backs are advancing without any problem or harassment to besiege England like a small, trembling team receiving the play.

light at the end of the tunnel

All this despite the fact that when the England manager made his substitutions, a lot of things changed. Some risk taking, with the participation of those who have the enthusiasm and ability to make the difference.

Southgate brought on Cole Palmer and Eze who needed chances, and the introduction of Lu Shaw was useful in having a left-footed centre-back for more fluidity with the ball.

Speaking of getting the ball out, despite the criticism of the England team, they were much better at getting the ball out against Switzerland than against Italy, and they benefited from Southgate’s idea of ​​playing with a defensive trio to increase the number of players in the build-up process to avoid the great ferocity that the Swiss possess in the pressing process, which they showed strongly against Italy. Also, the issue of playing with two wing-backs helped Jordan Pickford a lot in sending safe balls to both sides to beat the Swiss pressing process, which are things that are credited to the England coach.

England national team at the European Championship

The picture is not as bleak as it seems, some things look good, it just needs more courage from Southgate when he makes the decision to change as happened in building from the back and as happened in his substitutions against Switzerland, which perhaps he should think about turning some of them into basic options!

Gradually, Kobe Mainoo could also be used after Southgate made a disaster of a statement about his lack of a midfielder after the departure of Kalvin Phillips, and his confusion and experiments at the beginning of the tournament with Alexander-Arnold and then Gallagher before settling on Mainoo, who does not provide a distinguished defensive performance like Arnold and Gallagher; but he is at least good at getting rid of pressure and was able to deal with Xhaka in this regard.



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