England’s failure to beat the best teams in the world was a critique of the team that had long ruled Gareth Southgate – but he brought in a half – time intervention to lead Belgium, the world number one side, to a crucial victory. , Sunday.
At the same stage of the previous edition of the Nations League, the significance of the victory coincided with England’s 3-2 win over Spain in October 2018.
But even though that victory was based on a first-half explosion, England’s 2-1 victory over Belgium was largely due to the manager’s part-time tactical changes.
Here’s how Southgate helped England pull off a win that could prove a significant moment ahead of next summer’s European Championships …
First half problems
England kicked out 3-4-3, but with the absence of left-foot outfielders, there were pre-match worries about the team’s balance, and can Teklon Rice and Jordan Henderson provide the creativity needed for the hosts? Has possession.
After a positive, purposeful start, those concerns proved valid. Sky Sports Pandit Jamie Redcop described the first half of England as “an uncomfortable observation”.
Gary Neville, co-commentator, was not impressed by England’s playing system. “All you’ve got this time is simple, safe 10-yard square passes and a predictable cross at its end,” he said. “There is no innovation in the game. It’s always dangerous when you look at XI Gareth Southgate selected today.”
Even more worrying is that Romalu Lukaku – in his first game in England since leaving Manchester United – is playing like a striker, causing major defensive issues for the hosts with a point to prove it. He ran more than Eric Dyer to win the penalty, which knocked Belgium home to the front and centered all sorts of problems.
Around him, Yannick Carrasco and Kevin de Bruyne once again discovered dangerous areas, with Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker – both sides of the tire – struggling with their runs.
“England’s backlash is fragile,” Neville said. “Southgate has played five backs to try to make it stronger again, but it’s developing a little bit.”
But despite Belgium’s dominance, England came into the half-time and Marcus Rashford sent a spot-kick after Jordan Henderson won an easy penalty from Thomas Munier’s draw.
Changes were needed. “The system didn’t really work,” Redcob said.
Said Mason Mount, who eventually won the match Sky Sports The half-time break gave England the opportunity to “reunite”, but “talk about what we can do better and fix the problems we have”.
The message from the South Gate was to encourage the team to move further to the pitch and reduce the gaps between their defense, midfield and attack. “We tried to stay tall, put pressure on the ball and try to beat it as fast as we could,” Mount explained. “We don’t want them to have a lot of the ball, especially in our half.”
But there were also defensively subtle changes in how England marshaled Belgium’s attacks.
“As a team you have to be completely against the details of how you defend,” Southgate said Sky Sports Then. “We got that right in the second half.
“In the second half, you have to be perfect against these teams without the ball. Block an amazing pass from Kevin de Bruyne. We were very perfect and our covering positions were good.”
Another half-time instruction from the England boss – although he relied heavily on his players – was to use it better when they had the ball. “To be better at the ball, to keep the ball better at their half and to create opportunities,” Mount said.
To do this, the England players needed extra options – and in the pockets of space between Belgium’s defense and midfield, he invited Southgate, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold to land on the field.
A change of attitude turned the game around. “England deserves real credit,” Neville said in a statement, adding that the UK was beginning to gain more ground. “They’re inferior to the larger parts of the first half.”
On the front foot, England were so intimidating that Trippier and Alexander-Arnold offered options to combine play with lines. “England change it a little bit, it’s wings moving in small pockets on the back; not 10 levels,” Neville said. Meanwhile, Mount Belgium was frequently pushed into the box.
In fact, his goal of success is thanks to that ambitious approach.
“How they scored the second goal was around Declan Rice and its surroundings, including the cross with Alexander-Arnold, Trippier at the end, and then the Mason finish,” he said. Sky Sports Pandit Ashley Cole.
The big thing about the second half – other than the confidence on the ball and the players taking the best offensive positions – did they completely stop going into Lukaku?
There was another important result of the changes in the UK. “The big thing about the second half – other than the confidence on the ball and the players taking the best offensive positions – was that they completely stopped going into Lukaku,” Neville said.
As Tripper worked hard to the left, England were able to cut the supply lines on the striker and he was more than he was when he got the ball. Cole pointed out that England were “very aggressive with Lukaku”, and Southgate described Trippier as “like a soldier” and later praised his “incredible defensive performance”.
But Southgate was keen to emphasize that back and forth was an amazing defensive performance.
“Marcus [Rashford], Mason, Dominic [Calvert-Lewin] Then Harry [Kane], Closer to the right position, clever in their pressure. They had legs to go and press, which means midfielders don’t have to jump out of position. It means that we do not manifest with the bodies between the lines. The whole team – I’m so proud of what they did. “
Neville’s rating was “a great performance for some in the second half” and there was a definite feeling-good mood around Wembley after England’s victory.
“Southgate made changes at half time and they were very compact. The defense pushed the pitch up and there were more options,” Neville said. “He made some small changes at half time, Gareth Southgate, and you can see this helps his players have extra options on the ball.”
There will definitely be times in the future when Southgate become a foursome or play three people in a different way like 5-3-2, but this win over Belgium is a major milestone. This is not correct as Redcop later pointed out, but Southgate described it as “a great moment” and an important experience for his players.
But it was a night job that impressed the manager, proving that he could work to solve problems against the best in the world. The UK will sometimes need that kind of intervention if it wants to go far in the euro.
While hosting Denmark on Wednesday, live at the Sky Sports Main event from 7pm, see if England can beat Belgium with another Nations League group-game win; Kick-off night 7.45pm.