Football

14 November 2019 England 7 Montenegro 0 Euro 2020 qualifier

 

 

England confirmed their qualification for Euro 2020 with this facile victory against Montenegro before 77,000 fans at Wembley.

The Three Lions have now completed 1000 senior internationals and this win was one of their easiest.

 

So any assessment of England’s chances at next years' Euros based on this encounter would be somewhat tricky because of the paucity of opposition.

As at times the game seemed more like a training exercise for the home side against an opposition that defended woefully.

 

However what the match did confirm was that they do have some undoubted attacking talent.

Led by pacy forwards and the consistent ability of Harry Kane to convert chances.

 

England teams have frequently cruised through qualifying but then fell down against much stronger tournament opponents.

The challenge for coach Gareth Southgate is to break that pattern in 2020.

 

Can his array of young talent handle the top European teams when under severe pressure?

England will have the advantage of playing their group matches at Wembley and if all goes well return there for a semi-final and possibly a final.

Although it is difficult to foresee an atmosphere as vibrant as at Euro ‘96.

 

In all the analysis one factor that might count as a negative is the way even this moderate Montenegro team managed to create two good chances, including one direct from a corner.

Each time goalie Jordan Pickford, who otherwise had little to do, rescued a vulnerable central defence.

 

So Southgate’s winter homework will start with working out his optimum central defensive partnership.

Oh for a Virgil van Dijk or an English Sergio Ramos.

 

Then the second conundrum is the midfield structure.

And in particular who will supply the telling through balls to those precocious forwards?

Where are the home grown versions of Andrea Pirlo or Luca Modric?

 

And for this coach there is also the topical question concerning the harmony within the group.

Something that has not always been a strong point when England has been away at tournaments.

Factional disagreements, as illustrated by the Sterling/Gomez incident, need to be handled.

 

England could do well on home soil next year but they will need to address those weaknesses and above all create a team that is ideally greater than the sum of the parts.

 

Report & analysis - John Bethell





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