On Friday night in the Czech Republic, England faced the possibility of winning against the Czech’s and qualifying for Euro 2020.
Top of the group and unbeaten in this campaign so far, it all looked very rosy for England.
With a strong line up, in Gareth Southgate’s now preferred 4 3 3 formation, with debut’s for the Chelsea pairing of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham, against the less fancied Czechs. lining up in a 3 5 2 formation. Everything looked like it would go England’s way.
The opening exchanges went well for England, with strong attacking football, which saw Raheem Sterling win a penalty in the 5th Minute, swiftly converted by Harry Kane.
We expected the performance to increase and a comfortable victory to follow, ensuring qualification.
However, the penalty seemed to not only galvanise the Czechs, but it was almost like a bee had stung them on the backside.
They woke up and raised their game significantly, helped by the formation they were playing, 3 5 2. They piled pressure on England, going close a couple of times. These were wake up calls for England, but they quickly pulled level and deservedly so, just 4 minutes later.
The only surprise was that it took that long for them to equalise…
From that point on for the entire match, England laboured and toiled much harder than they needed to.
What went wrong for England
To get the answer to this, you only have to look back to the last Premier League Weekend, when Wolves travelled to the Etihad Satdium, home of Manchester City and beat them in their own back yard 2-0.
But what has that result got to do with England losing in Czech Republic?
At face value, nothing, but upon closer inspection, quite a lot.
You see, just as in the Czech Republic, Wolves employed their favoured, tried and tested 3 5 2 formation, against Man City’s 4 3 3 and came away with the right result.
Now on paper it shouldn’t matter which formation you play, the result should be a positive one, if you have a good game plan.
England had a game plan, it is a tried and tested one, but, when pitched against a team playing 3 5 2, then it can prove significantly difficult to penetrate, because in a 3 5 2 formation, the opposition will have numbers over, if the players do their jobs correctly.
The Czechs executed their jobs perfectly, faster, pressed better, had players over and England were left frustrated and arguing amongst themselves, because they couldn’t create the space they required to break through and so drew blanks every time.
It will be interesting to see how Engand fare against Bulgaria this evening in their next qualifier, because they commonly line up in a 3-5-2 formation as well. What will Southgate have to do to overcome them, and secure qualifying?
If England can raise their game and also eliminate the poor decision making and passive play they employed against the Czechs, then they will come away with a good result and qualification will be assured.
Too many times, through poor decision making did England let the Czechs in.
Tonights match should be an interesting one…
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