England head coach Gareth Southgate has been a figure many fans have questioned. In typical fashion when it comes to Three Lions bosses, everything about Southgate has been questioned from his style of play, dress sense and even the strength of his personality.
However, a 2-0 win over Germany at Wembley on Tuesday night in the last-16 of Euro2020 is yet more proof that maybe the England boss does know what he is doing when coaching after all.
Perceived defensive set-up
There were moans and groans before this game that England were setting up with seven defensive players. With five defenders and two sitting midfielders selected to start the game. Southgate had previous played a back four for much of Euro2020, but switched to a back-three with wing-backs.
That switch showed that he knew his opponents and was to nullify Germany’s dangerous wing-backs Robin Gosens and Joshua Kimmich. The tactic worked well. Not only was the threat of the German wing-backs nullified, but England left wing-back Luke Shaw had a hand in both goals.
In front of the backline, central midfielders Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips were solid as always in the clash. The set-up led to very few chances conceded. Germany’s only chance was when Thomas Muller seized on a loose pass from Raheem Sterling and went through on goal one-on-one with England stopper Jordan Pickford. Rather uncharacteristically, the Bayern Munich star missed the target, dragging his effort wide of goal. It may have been the touch of luck England have lacked in previous international tournaments.
Their defensive setup has been the cornerstone of their Euro2020 campaign so far. I doubt many will be moaning if it leads to England winning the competition.
Raheem Sterling is becoming the talisman
While at the start of the tournament captain Harry Kane was considered the talisman of the team, Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling has been superb during Euro2020. Last season was not the best of Sterling’s career, as he was in and out of the Citizens starting line-up.
Many fans believed that Sterling shouldn’t have been in England’s starting line-up at the start of the campaign. However, England boss Southgate stuck by the 26-year-old and he has repaid his faith by scoring three of the four goals England have scored during the tournament.
Sterling has certainly proven the majority of his doubters wrong and with each game is becoming more of a talisman for the likeable England team.
England favourites to win Euro2020
The win over Germany confirmed England’s status as favourites to win Euro2020. This is not a new situation for an England team and Gareth Southgate will not let the players get carried away with their victory. However, the players will have gained massive confidence from the win at Wembley
The Three Lions face Ukraine next in the quarter-finals at the Stadio Olimpico. England may never have a better chance of winning a European Championships than this summer. For all the question marks over the England head coach, Gareth Southgate may just be the man to end the Three Lions 55 years wait for an international trophy. If the impossible does happen and they do lift the trophy it could not have happened to a better person or coach.
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Does England deserve their status as favourites to win Euro2020?