BUDAPEST, Hungary – If England abandon their stride in front of the voice of nearly 30,000 children and a vuvuzela, how will they deal with the dreaded Allianz Arena against Germany on Tuesday night?
The UEFA Nations League is dwarfed in the context of the grueling end to domestic football just passed and the World Cup in Qatar later this year, but Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Hungary raises more questions about whether England can thrive consistently without the means. Home comfort.
Gareth Southgate has spoken about the issue with his players during this week’s encounters, realizing that only 10 of the 23-man squad that reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals in Russia are in this latter group, the vast majority of which made it to Euro 2020 last year. . The final was during training at St George’s Park and only one match played at Wembley.
These were definitely unusual circumstances. A match that was supposed to be played behind closed doors due to UEFA sanctions stemming from the racist and homophobic behavior of Hungary fans at Euro 2020 ended with a raucous crowd of tens of thousands as the hosts exploited a provision in the regulations. Schoolchildren were allowed into Puskas Square – up to ten people per adult – and with vuvuzelas ready, they created a religion reminiscent of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
At times, England seemed the disjointed and sterile side of that tournament, unable to generate any sustained momentum in a game where they had greater possession but created little to no note until a late spell afterwards. Dominic ZuboszlaiPenalty kick in the 66th minute.
“It’s very difficult to break down and we lack a half a yard in terms of our true confidence,” Southgate said. “I think that was a lot hotter than the length of the season. The other factor is that we haven’t played together for three months and we have three games in six months.
“During these four matches we try to strike a balance between looking at things, knowing the players and trying [to] win over. Maybe I didn’t get the balance right today, but we learned a lot from him and I have to accept that you are not going to win matches and you have to overcome the criticism that comes from it with the learning that should help us in the future.
“We are disappointed because if we want to be a team that reaches the final stages of the World Cup, these are the kinds of matches we have to win.”
It was strange to hear Southgate blaming the heat. Budapest was blessed with warm temperatures – around 26 degrees Celsius at kickoff – but England’s first European Championship game last summer was played two degrees over two degrees, a game in which the team beat Croatia 1-0, and those concerns hardly bode well. Good for the World Cup to be held in a Gulf country, albeit in November and December.
Southgate was right that Saturday’s starting lineup was a bit far from his first pick of eleven. Raheem Sterlingwhich has proven to play a pivotal role in England in recent times, has been an underused substitute Phil Foden Left behind after contracting COVID-19, Southgate picked two first-time candidates with contradictory results: Jarrod Bowen He started off particularly brilliant and remained one of England’s strongest threats during that time James Justin He was dislocated in the first half – Southgate later cited a minor calf problem – after a wrong display at left-back. Jude Bellingham He got a chance to impress in midfield but was unable to inject a progressive midfield, as many feel he is absent in Southgate’s favorite duo. Declan rice And the Calvin Phillips.
Fatigue will be a factor at the moment but England have not adapted to their environment here. The unusual atmosphere took a dark turn before kick-off as England’s players were booed by large sections of the young crowd while they were kneeling; The raised tone was a disturbing sound that contrasted with the anti-racist messages displayed through the large banners on the far side of the stadium.
“From a developmental perspective, I want and want the team to play in front of the fans,” Southgate said. “But of course, that’s not the point in this case. So I’m torn about what we actually got from that and what the reality should have been. I think this needs some consideration without a doubt.”
“Actually it was the atmosphere when we got to the stadium, there were kids lining the streets, it was really friendly. They were waving when we were walking to warm up. I thought there was some kind of booing when our team came out doing the warm-up.
“It was different with taking the knee, but that seemed like an inherited thinking to me. What I would say is, I hear it still in our courts as well. That’s why we’re doing it and we’re continuing to have that attitude and we’re going to keep doing it as a team.”
On the field, the referee was suspicious. Hungary’s decision on the penalty was poor; Rhys JamesJust two minutes ago as a substitute, he hit the ball over Zolt Nagy when he stormed the penalty area but did not appear in control of the ball, and Southgate described it as a “cruel decision”.
Conor Coady flashes a head 77 minutes wide, Harry King He chose a simple shot when he could square pass to Jack Grealish In order to score, a few minutes later the England captain fired a low shot into sight as the match approached injury time. But the best opportunity came at the other end of all this, Jordan Pickford avoid Laszlo KleinheislerShot in the 81st minute straight to Andras Schafferbut he shot the recoil over the bar.
By that point, Southgate had ditched his 3-4-3 form in favor of 4-3-3, and neither of them looked convincing here. He had previously claimed that they were working on different tactical plans that could cause problems for the hosts but those efforts clearly failed as Hungary secured their first win over England since 1962.
This is undoubtedly a good time to experiment with the World Cup still several months away, and the Nations League is a useful albeit largely unimportant exercise in itself, especially this year. But Southgate was expecting more from his team here, and Tuesday’s visit to Germany is in that vein a research examination of how strong their chances are in Qatar.
England are being judged right to higher standards these days – that requires the depth of talent at Southgate’s disposal and the deep appeals of the last two tournaments – and it’s easier to say they haven’t looked convincing in a match against serious opponents. The time, perhaps not since the 4-0 win on the ground last September.
Saturday’s defeat may have been the first in 90 minutes since November 2020, but outside of Euro 2020, that 23-match run included several games against teams such as San Marino, Albania and Andorra, artificially inflating the sense of fortitude.
None of this would matter if England were to peak in time in Qatar, but rather than join the chorus bemoaning the unprecedented shift moving the World Cup into the winter months, Southgate may now be grateful for the extra time given the improvements needed. .