Scotland came to England on the back of a defeat to the Czech Republic but it was they who showed energy and pressing against a lethargic England who struggled with creativity and looked a long way from a team capable of going all the way in the delayed European Championships.
Scotland Fail to Punish Lethargic England
Scotland Press Causes England Problems
Scotland were quick out of the blocks and Che Adams should haven done better on four minutes, but his tame shot was easily blocked before John Stones headed a corner against the upright. He, like Adams, should have done better. Moments later England should have been in front when Sterling crossed low only for Mason Mount to fluff his lines.
Kieran Tierney returning to the side was a huge boost to Scotland and he delivered a superb cross which was met by Stephen O’ Donnell only to be denied by Jordan Pickford’s diving save to his right. The Everton man was arguably England’s best player on the night.
Scotland played with pace, pressed high and used a lot of width whilst England were laboured in possession and sat far too deep leaving Steve Clarke by far the happier manager at half time. He will feel his team should have been ahead on the balance of play, however, with Scotland’s pressing causing England real problems.
England Must Improve
Against Croatia, England did what was needed to win the game and put the demons of 2018 behind them but it was not a performance that suggested England should be favourites for this tournament.
Despite an old rivalry and footballing history, England should have had the players to beat Scotland but the auld enemy were better with passing, ball retention and all round play with England at times looking disjointed and incoherent.
Raheem Sterling scored the winner against Croatia but his final ball was poor bar one and he showed poor decision making in the final third. Harry Kane was again ineffective and worryingly looked unfit with his touch poor and passing well short of what England expects of their captain. Captains lead by example but Kane has simply not done that in the two group games so far and it is an issue that will surely trouble Gareth Southgate.
Steve Clarke Shows Tactical Skill
As poor as England were at Wembley, Steve Clarke deserves all of the praise for a superb tactical performance. This was not a Scotland team just being passionate and working hard, this was a Scotland team knowing their jobs, playing good football and Clarke’s stock as a manager continues to improve and rightly so.
Lethargic England Cannot Hide
England cannot afford to put in another performance like they did against Scotland when they play the Czech Republic on Tuesday 22 June. If they do, they will very likely come up short because against Scotland, England were not even close to being good enough.
Scotland now have their destiny in their own hands and if they can add goals to a performance like they produced against England, they can feel confident of making the knockout stages of Euro 2020.
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