The outfit have shown incredible solidity at the back in the ongoing continental showpiece.
England secured an impressive 2-0 victory over Germany in the Round of 16 fixture of UEFA Euro 2020. The game was highly entertaining as both teams were equally strong. The clash could have gone either way, but the English side came out on top with a gritty performance and made their way into the quarterfinals.
Germany have made their exit from the tournament, as they could not breach the English defensive line. Furthermore, England have become only the second team in the Euros after Germany in 2016, to keep a clean sheet in their first four games.
England have not conceded a single goal yet and will look to continue their streak in the quarterfinals. The Three Lions are on a 10-game unbeaten streak. They have also kept a clean-sheet in their last six consecutive games.
Moreover, they are the only outfit who are yet to concede a goal at the tournament. England have only conceded once in their last 10 games as well. For a team that houses some of the best attackers in Europe, their defence is performing better than expected.
Gareth Southgate’s planning
Gareth Southgate has received immeasurable criticism for his team selection. The argument suggests that the tactician prefers to prevent teams from scoring by employing defensive-minded players. This eventually leads to a system, which has five defenders on the pitch and two defensive midfielders.
England played a 3-4-3 formation against Germany in the Round of 16, which had Luke Shaw and Kieran Trippier as wing-backs. In addition, the defence had further protection from the combination of Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice.
This left only three attack-minded players on the pitch, namely Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane. These tactics invited a lot of criticism from fans, who were surprised to see players like Jack Grealish, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount sitting on the bench.
However, the manager stuck by his tactics irrespective of the feelings of the fans. England were able to easily contain Germany’s attacking threat, reducing them to only three shots on target and blocked two more shots. Four of the total nine shots came from outside the box, as the Germans could not breach England’s defence.
Harry Maguire’s involvement has given England’s defence a new layer of protection. The Manchester United skipper made his second appearance in the tournament after recovering from an ankle injury. The defender earned the Star of the Match award for his highly-rated performance against Germany.
Maguire won all six of his aerial duels and four out of six ground duels. He was impressive while in possession, as he completed three out of four long balls and had 88% passing accuracy. In addition, he also had four clearances, most from the English ranks.
These numbers and the overall performance is highly impressive given the fact this was only his second game after the ankle injury. The 28-year-old also combined well with fellow Manchester United player Luke Shaw on the left-wing. His form will be central in the games to come for England.
Gareth Southgate’s risky venture is paying off. Despite having sensational attacking players in the squad, England have come out as a defensively solid outfit. Breaching their defensive cover could be a task too hard for any opposition. The saying ‘attack wins you games, but defence wins you titles’ holds true for England at the moment.
England’s defensive performance will be central if they are to go all the way and win Euro 2020. The luxury of having attack-minded full-backs like Shaw and Trippier adds an extra element to their attack.