England laborious against determined Scotland
It was never going to be easy for England when they locked horns with Scotland at Wembley on Friday night, but the manner in which Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions performed against a historic rival that pre-dates football by hundreds of years off the pitch, and on the pitch itself, cannot be deemed acceptable by any measure.
— Times Sport (@TimesSport) June 19, 2021
At no point did England truly cause Scotland to feel any sustained amount of pressure across 90-minutes of play, and for a national team brimming with one of the finest squads at the tournament – and easily one of the most talented in the nation’s history – just one goal from their first two group stage matches is hardly a return that can be justified.
Against their bitter northern rivals, England could only muster nine shots at goal, despite seeing over 60% of the ball and completing just shy of 90% of their passes. Harry Kane was lost and has yet to be found once more, while Phil Foden was inexplicably removed on 63-minutes and replaced by Jack Grealish, despite both Kane and Raheem Sterling looking far less effective than the Manchester City youngster. Once again, Gareth Southgate’s team selection and changes have received heavy criticism, and rightfully so.
The numbers do not lie thus far this summer
So far in Euro 2020, North Macedonia's Aleksandar Trajkovski has had as many shots on target as England, despite being substituted in his first game and a substitute in his second.
— Richard Jolly (@RichJolly) June 18, 2021
The shocking statistic that has been mentioned in the aftermath of the 0-0 stalemate is difficult to wrap one’s head around. With North Macedonia’s Aleksandar Trajkovski registering more shots on frame than the whole of the England team thus far at Euro 2020, Gareth Southgate desperately needs to ring the changes if England is to even come close to living up to the buzz around the team in the run-up to the tournament.
"If Southgate’s team fail to convince with Jadon Sancho on the sidelines, some exasperated supporters will forever imagine what might have been if the invisible man of #EURO2020 had only been given a chance to strut his stuff."
— The Athletic UK (@TheAthleticUK) June 19, 2021
England are being criticized at every turn, especially regarding the baffling fact that arguably the nation’s most gifted wide player in Jadon Sancho has yet to see even a single minute of action on the pitch, while Southgate remains firmly entrenched in his faith in certain underperformers. Harry Kane is chief amongst those to have seen his place in the starting XI come under fire, and with the likes of Sancho, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Marcus Rashford, and Bukayo Saka all waiting in the wings, England are hardly short of options to change things up in the hopes of alleviating what ails them in the final third.
Even more baffling than England’s low number of shots on frame throughout group play is the fact that their 8.5-shots/match is the lowest in their entire group, with only Hungary, Finland, and Belgium having registered fewer to date. In the defense of the Red Devils, they have bagged 5-goals thus far, and have shown themselves to be far more ruthless through the likes of Romelu Lukaku than England, despite boasting a player in Harry Kane who is widely viewed as one of the top three center-forwards in Europe.
Thankfully there is still time for Southgate to apply a bit of course correction and arrest England’s struggles, but that could mean separating from Kane to see if the previously unthinkable is necessary.
This article was edited by Ben Browning.