England v Czech Republic Review: Euros 2020

June 24th, 2021 | Football

Please note: The football articles that feature on this site are being written by Jack Dixon as part of his work experience. He is a teenager and looking for work experience within the football industry. He is currently studying for his media and art A-levels.

Professional. That’s the first word that comes to mind when thinking about England’s 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic last night. At times it was tight. Both teams looked a threat going forwards and relatively solid defensively. England however, as they have done of late, found a way to score using the brilliance of one or two individuals. They managed the game well by keeping the ball in midfield and the final-third, often deciding to play the simple pass rather than a more ambitious but risky one.

The England goal is a brilliant example of what England can do going forwards when playing a 4-2-3-1 system, which they did last night. Marcus Rashford and Phil Foden are great talents, but operate more as inside forwards by getting into the channel and finding pockets of space, Grealish also does this when deployed out-wide. But by playing old-fashioned wide players in Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka last night, England stretched the game and made space in various areas of the pitch. If Sterling or Saka drove inside, it made space for Luke Shaw and occasionally Kyle Walker. If they held their width, it creates space in and around the box for Jack Grealish and for one of the double-pivot players to operate in. This system and choice of personnel is what allowed Luke Shaw to be more of a threat going forwards and allowed one of the double-pivot to join the attack. Kyle Walker offered defensively solidity when England had possession by playing as a half-back, like he often does for Manchester City. This tactical tweak creates a midfield overload, offers defensive solidity, and allows of the centre-backs to break forwards, something both did to great effect. Harry Maguire actually played eight passes into the final-third, more than any other England player.

A solid performance and good result for England…

England Player Ratings: Pickford (6), Shaw (7), Maguire (8), Stones (6), Walker (6), Rice (7), Philips (6), Sterling (7), Grealish (7), Saka (8), Kane (5)

Czech Republic Player Ratings:

To be updated on 25 June.

MOTM: Bukayo Saka

Really impressive performance from Bukayo Saka. A player whose place in the squad was one I didn’t really understand, but he’s proven me wrong and shown England fans who weren’t aware of his ability and talent what he’s about. I knew he was a fantastic talent and offered great versatility, but I didn’t realise how much he’s developed this season. He’s cool on the ball, confident in his ability, has bags of pace, tracks back, can go both ways and possess brilliant vision, passing and has the decision making at the level of a seasoned veteran. He’s a throw-back in terms of his directness and desire to embarrass the opposition’s full-back. I loved seeing a nineteen-year-old take responsibility like that and driving England forwards for the 80 or so minutes he was on the pitch. Saka played like a regular England starter with 30+ caps, when in reality he’s gone into this tournament viewed by many as a squad option and currently has six caps to his name. His performance against the Czechs has done him no harm in terms of the pecking order and has given Southgate a potential headache ahead of the Last-16 game. A talented young player who has a really bright future.