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England’s tactics are similar to those of Liverpool and European champions Chelsea, says Gareth Southgate.
The three Lions reached the final of Euro 2020, only to lose on penalties to Italy after a 1-1 draw at Wembley after extra time.
With a squad full of attacking talent available, Southgate often faced applause for finding a way to fit as many of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden into his starting XI as possible.
While all of these players played their part, Southgate started each match with a holding turn by Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips in midfield, with England lined up in a back three in the final itself.
England, who had the tightest defense at Euro 2020, conceding just two goals, were exceeded by 19 to six in that match, with Luke Shaw’s early goal their only attempt until Harry Kane headed over in the 58th minute.
Southgate’s team is back in action on Thursday and faces Hungary in qualifying group I for the World Cup – England are at the top with nine points from their three matches so far.
Asked again if he feels he has been too conservative at times with his approach, Southgate told a news conference: “I always look at Chelsea who are Champions League winners playing three attacking players.
“Liverpool usually play three attacking players. So what does it take to win football matches at the very highest level? Most teams get four in if they played two wide players, one 10 and one nine, or three strikers and one attacking eight.
“I don’t see too many teams in football in the world winning things playing with five attacking players who have no tactical discipline or who have no balance to the team, so I understand of course that people will see exciting players. I understand. I think our goal record is pretty strong compared to other nations.
“The teams that have won tournaments in the past had an average of 12 goals in those tournaments. We had 11, Italy got 13. We were not far from that. I think we play good football.
“I think we are building the game. We keep the ball. We must do better in the biggest matches when we are under intense pressure, no doubt. But we can not get all the attacking players on the field and some of them still have a long way to go to be the finished article.
“We have some great players who have taken us to a semi-final and a final that has shown itself in the biggest matches on the biggest stage.
“We have lots of guys with a good reputation who have not yet necessarily won things with their clubs and who still have a lot to prove. It will be interesting to see all these tours this year, with us and with their clubs. ”
How did England cope in attack at Euro 2020?
Although Southgate will rightly point to reaching a World Cup semi-final and then taking England to their first major tournament final since 1966 as proof of their excellent progress, some questions about his attacking plan seem justified, based on Euro 2020 figures.
England actually scored only two goals less than Italy at Euro 2020, with the Azzurri joint top in that regard along with the semi-finalists Spain.
In terms of overall chances created, England ranked fifth with 48, far behind leaders Italy (104), with Spain (86), Denmark (71) and Switzerland (52) also ahead of Southgate’s team.
However, it was only Spain who created more great chances – those defined by Opta as a situation where a player could reasonably be expected to score – than England’s figure of 16, where the three lions converted half of those chances.
A total of 189 passes or posts in the area also ranked England behind the other three teams to reach the semi-finals.
Italy, Spain, Denmark and Switzerland all had more shots than England, despite playing fewer matches, while nine teams scored faster (England managed a goal every 57.27 minutes, whereas tournament leaders Spain recorded a strike every 41.54 minutes ).
However, only Belgium recorded a better shot conversion rate than England.