Sunday, July 21, 2024

Harry Kane, Gareth Southgate say England’s team press failing after Denmark draw – what’s causing the problem at Euro 2024?

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England’s team press ranks as the third-worst at Euro 2024 – so what’s causing the breakdown?

Harry Kane has admitted England are not sure how to press when opponents start dropping deeper after two lacklustre showings at Euro 2024.

One of the many criticisms of England is playing too deep, especially out of possession, and therefore being unable to play out from the back.

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Sky Sports Gary Neville admits that Gareth Southgate will have to make changes to his starting XI and possibly his system if they are to progress deep into the competition at the Euros

Kane told BBC Sport: “It’s something we’ve got to try to get better at, not just when we score.

“We’re starting games well, but when the opponents are dropping a few players deeper we’re not quite sure how to get the pressure on and who’s supposed to be going.

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Sky Sports’ Gary Neville takes a closer look at where England will need to improve as they bid to win the Euros and admits that playing Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield may have to change

Gareth Southgate added: “We’ve played teams who are quite fluid in back threes, it’s not easy to get pressure on them, but we’ve definitely got to do it better than we have in these two matches.”

“[Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield is] an experiment, we know we don’t have a natural replacement for Kalvin Phillips but we’re trying some different things – and at the moment we’re not flowing as we’d like.”

So, when are England sitting deeper and how is that affecting the press?

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Rob Dorsett delivers his verdict on England’s 1-1 draw with Denmark and believes there are real concerns for Gareth Southgate after another underwhelming performance at Euro 2024

How bad is the press?

When it comes to the press, the numbers support Kane’s comments: England rank third-worst at the tournament so far for allowing opponents to make passes freely without intervention.

The metric visualised below measures the average number of opposition passes a team allows before making a defensive action – so, a lower number is better.

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Kaveh Solhekol feels England were lucky not to lose their match against Denmark, adding that Trent Alexander-Arnold struggled in his midfield role which could see the end of that particular ‘experiment’ from Gareth Southgate

Ukraine rank top with the most intense press, allowing opponents to make fewer than eight passes before making a defensive action. The Three Lions allow opponents more than three times as many passes – 23.1 to be precise.

Only Romania and Albania have been less effective at Euro 2024 so far.

Southgate’s side also rank third-worst for high turnovers – averaging just four per game.

Another metric supports Kane’s concerning comments about England being unsure when and who presses in the final third, three times fewer than table-topping Portugal.

The graphic below reveals England have impressive defensive solidity in their defensive half, but the ineffective press raises red flags in the opposition half – an area where most England players excel for their domestic clubs

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Bukayo Saka has been typically hugging the touchline down his favoured right channel and has also posed the greatest threat, while Phil Foden has been roaming into his more dangerous central areas, resulting in a lopsided attack, which could contribute to pressing problems.

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England sitting deep: What does the data say?

The graphic below summarises it perfectly: almost all outfield players averaged in their defensive third while they held their early, one-goal advantage for 16 minutes.

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The graphic below elaborates on how England retreated after scoring, revealing the swing of final-third passes during the game – with the Danes hitting a match-high level of dominance before their 34th-minute leveller.

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Against Serbia, Southgate’s side started the game wholly dominant, but that control ebbed incrementally after Jude Bellingham broke the deadlock, with the Serbs enjoying the lion’s share of attacking threat after the break.

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Additionally, England are playing deeper than at previous tournaments, with four outfield players averaging in their own half at the World Cup in 2022 – rising to six at Euro 2024. The forwards – especially Harry Kane and Phil Foden – are also playing far deeper.

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The general message emanating from the England camp is to stay calm, but the comments made by Kane and Southgate are concerning.

The majority of England’s squad players are accustomed to high-press styles at their domestic clubs, so harnessing those qualities and finding an effective balance across midfield and attack appears to be critical if England want to progress… at all.

VOTE: Who should Southgate select against Slovenia?

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