England – Belgium: Southgate And Martínez Show Their Shortcomings (2-1)
A first match-up between 2018’s World Cup semi-finalists should have revealed how far these teams have progressed, now that both managers have had more time in their respective roles. Instead, England and Belgium looked far from completing such a feat, as they both showed glaring issues in their passing structures, shot creation and in-game management.
Tactical analysis and match report by Joel Parker.
England’s squad depth has radically boomed within the space of a few years, as a fresh crop of talent has taken the field in the competitive Premier League. Players like Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Jack Grealish have only just made their first caps, but the problem with Gareth Southgate’s side is converting spells of possession into creating chances.
In the current climate, it’s difficult for players from other clubs to train and build connections, yet this has been a problem since Southgate came into the role. England are a very flexible team, but exploiting opposition blocks has proved to be difficult, recording just 0.10 and 0.35 expected goals from open play in their last two Nations League matches.
The record that Roberto Martínez has built at Belgium is crazy, having lost just three times in forty-six matches prior to this match. He has only managed during one tournament so far, but the post-apocalyptic world without the likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku draws closer. Youngsters such as Jeremy Doku and Yari Verschaeren could carry the baton, but the time is ticking on success that seemed so inevitable.
A lack of cover in the . . .