England – Bulgaria: Away side are the architects of their own downfall (4-0)
The Bulgarian resistance seemed a worthy match for England’s slower approach, which looked to gradually chip away at them. We might even have had a tighter finish on our hands, irrespective of the result, had it not been for the visitors laying it all out on a plate for the hosts.
Tactical analysis and match report by Peter M.
This was England’s first international match since defeating Switzerland on penalties in the UEFA Nations League third-place playoff back in June. Since then, this group of players have had time to reflect on another great-yet-ultimately-frustrating campaign that saw them fall short in the semi-finals once again.
Coming back to an easier test – and in a system still designed to facilitate the current crop of players, who mostly reside at top level Premier League clubs – this was the perfect bounce-back fixture to see them on their way.
As was always likely to be the case, Gareth Southgate made a number of changes from the lineups he played in the final games of the Nations League. Still sticking to a 4-3-3 shape, the most notable inclusions came in the form of Kieran Trippier and Michael Keane in defense, and Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice in midfield.
As for England’s opponents, Krasimir Balakov is yet to see his side record a victory so far in Group A of the EURO 2020 qualifiers. After losing their last two matches, including a 3-2 home defeat against Kosovo, the head coach was looking to . . .