Key Players Out of Position a Problem for England

England drew goalless with Slovenia on matchday 3 of the European Championships in Cologne. The English finished at the top of their group with five points from three matches, as Denmark also drew with Serbia in the other match. England will face Slovakia in the round of 16 on 30 June.

The Three Lions made one change in their starting line-up, as Conor Gallagher replaced Trent Alexander-Arnold as a holding midfielder. However, despite that solitary change having been made, the English continued to suffer because of a number of players playing out of position.

Phil Foden and Kieran Trippier Were Predictable Down the Left Flank

Both Foden and Trippier have been playing out of their preferred positions in the tournament. Foden, who is more comfortable as the No. 10 or the right-winger, has been starting on the left flank, while Trippier, a natural right-back, has been playing as the left-back.
Still, England primarily attacked through the left against Slovenia. However, their attacking patterns were predictable, with both Foden and Trippier showing a tendency to shift inside from the left. Even while he was cutting inside from the wing, Foden primarily did so with the ball on his left foot instead of his right, thereby showing his natural preference.
Trippier also was facing the goal most of the times to play passes with his right foot, which meant that there were hardly any crosses played from the left. Only on a few sporadic occasions, when Foden managed to beat the Slovenian right-back to go near the goal-line, did he manage to play crosses with his left foot.

Gallagher Playing in an Advanced Role

Gallagher played in an advanced role for the majority of the match before being replaced by Kobbie Mainoo in the second half. It meant that Declan Rice had to play as the No. 6 once again, thereby not being able to make his darting runs into the opposition penalty box, as he has done for Arsenal almost regularly last season.
Had Mainoo started instead of Gallagher, it would have enabled Rice to have more attacking freedom from the very beginning of the match. Jude Bellingham, playing as the No. 10, often shifted to the left to swap positions with Foden. This meant that England were missing the Real Madrid midfielder’s marauding runs into the box as well.
Moreover, Harry Kane also kept dropping back to the hole frequently, which was quite typical of him. Kane tried to press high quite intensely during the initial phases, but his energy fizzled out as the match progressed. As a result, England often lacked presence inside the opposition penalty box, which affected their potency in attack. Bukayo Saka was also largely ineffective, and had to be replaced by Cole Palmer in the second half. Palmer looked more decisive and effective than the Arsenal right-winger during his brief stay on the pitch.

England Has Not Been Very Potent in Their Attack

The Three Lions have scored only two goals in their three matches so far. In comparison, Germany has scored eight goals in their three matches and Portugal has scored five in their first two.
This is definitely not the kind of impact Gareth Southgate was expecting from his attacking unit before the start of the tournament. His team will likely get an easier opposition in the round of 16. However, unless he decides to change his strategy and starts playing key players in their proper positions, the graph of their performance is unlikely to go high.

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