England, this is Spain’s rival in the final: a lot of heart, less football… and a great ‘flower’

Spain already has a rival: England. The most criticized team of the entire Euro Cup defeated the Netherlands (1-2) and will play its second consecutive final.

Netherlands 1-2 England: summary and goals | Euro Cup (Semifinals)

“I am very happy with the quality of our game. I imagine it’s been a long time since England had 60% possession against a team like the Netherlands.“he boasted Gareth Southgate, highly questioned by his team’s poor play throughout the tournament.

I imagine it’s been a long time since England had 60% possession against a team like the Netherlands.

Gareth Southgate

In terms of results, little can be blamed. He has won more knockout matches in major tournaments (9) than all England managers since 1966 combined (6). Not only that. He has led the ‘three lions’ to finish quarterfinals in Russia 2018, to reach the semi-finals of the 2019 Nations League, the final of Euro 2020, the quarterfinals of the 2022 World Cup and, again, the final of Euro 2024.

It is true that England does not play well… despite having in its ranks, among others, the ‘Best Player’ in the Premier (Foden), the Bundesliga (Kane) and LaLiga, with permission from Vinicius (Bellingham). It must be acknowledged, in Southgate’s defense, that the three have arrived at the Euros exhausted.

Denmark 1-1 England: summary and goals | Euro Cup (J2)

Bellingham, Kane and Foden, joined by Saka, Palmer, Watkins, Toney, Eze… They had just scored 186 goals! this coursebut they have not managed to fit. “We have enormous talents and we cannot afford to manage them poorly”he assured Gary Nevilleafter 0-0 with Slovenia.

We have enormous talents and we cannot afford to manage them poorly.

Gary Neville

England doesn’t play well… but they win. Suffering… but winning. With a tremendous goal bicycle kick from Bellingham in the 95th minute and another from Kane in extra time in the round of 16 against Slovakia (2-1)starring in a perfect round against Switzerland (1-1) in the quarterfinals, with a goal from the ‘revulsive’ Watkins in the 91st minute in the semis against the Netherlands (1-2)…

England 2-1 Slovakia: summary and goals | Euro Cup (Round of 16)

They have only won one game out of six in the Euro Cup in the first 90 minutes. They lack game, but they have aim. A lot. Against Slovakia it took them 95 minutes to take the first shot on goal – Bellingham’s goal – and against Switzerland they needed 80 minutes – Saka’s goal -.

The main problem, on a creative level, is in the double pivot. Southgate opted for Rice and Alexander-Arnold in the first two games, then brought in Gallagher as Rice’s companion and, finally, the young Mainoo has been ‘consolidated’. Each one has done their bit in their record -Mainoo brings energy and a point of verticality-, but none of them have given solidity to the game.

Serbia 0-1 England: summary and goal | Euro Cup (J1)

A game that is largely concentrated on the right wing, in the Walker-Saka pairing. The Arsenal winger is being the most active in the attack. Foden, for example, has neither scored nor assisted. He doesn’t finish ‘marrying’ Bellingham. There is quite a revealing piece of information in this regard: England’s seven goals have come in plays that were ‘born’ on the right. Shaw’s injury, now recovered, and the fact that Trippier had to play with a changed leg as ‘3’ have greatly influenced this aspect.

There is one thing that Southgate’s England did stand out in that is being missed in this Euro Cup, partly due to the absence of Harry Maguire, who was ‘grounded’ along with Grealish, Sterling, Rashford and Sancho: They are the goals from set pieces. The ‘ABP’ and the ‘little trains’ that formed in the area were the ‘watchword’ of the ‘three lions’. In Germany 2024, only one goal has come directly as a result of a set piece: the throw-in that Guéhi desperately extended and ended in Bellingham’s goal as a bicycle kick.

England 1-1 Switzerland: summary, goals and penalties | Euro Cup (Quarterfinals)

Efficiency, ability to adapt to different match scenarios… but, in the absence of play, when the matches get tough, they pull with all their heart. “We have once again demonstrated incredible character and resilience,” underlined Southgate against the Netherlands.

England never gives up. He goes with everything until the end. In part, because he has a great bench and, generally, when Southgate takes risks, starting by delaying Bellingham to the double pivot, it almost always pays off..

England 0-0 Slovenia: summary | Euro Cup (J3)

Without going any further, two substitutes (Palmer and Saka) created the goal that put them in the final. Against Slovakia it was Toney who assisted Kane, against Switzerland, in the fateful shoot-out, three of the freshmen players (Palmer, Toney and Alexander-Arnold) scored… Spain already knows what awaits it.


Davide Piano

An experienced journalist with an insatiable curiosity for global affairs on newshubpro

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