News   |    June 8th, 2022

NATIONS LEAGUE PANIC

It was a weekend to forget for Southgate and his men. The Three Lions travelled to a determined and unforgiving Puskas Arena Park where Hungary would prove too resilient to overhaul. With a contentious penalty call against Reece James being the decisive moment of the game, the game resulted in a 1-0 victory through Dominik Szoboszlai’s winning strike.

Despite the UEFA Nations League having been called a glorified friendly by some, each and every international football match should be played with the same exceptional intensity as the next. It is an honor to play for your country, however on Saturday it seemed that the lackluster performance from the players was a show of their nonchalant mentality. Arguably, the players have had a long season, an inundated schedule of football matches at the highest level of the game. Yet, it is hard to use this an excuse. There are 55 other teams competing who are all in the same circumstances.

Perhaps we could blame the system. Southgate decided not to utilize Tammy Abraham, Serie A’s 4th top goal scorer, and Roma’s talisman this season. A more than questionable decision. Not forgetting the three changes in defense, when it was a lack of attacking threat that would hamper our scoring opportunities.

This puts England on the backfoot in their group, particularly given Hungary should have been one of the weaker teams, and two of the most successful nations in the world in Germany and Italy await Southgate. There certainly needs to be a change in the system and the players mentality if England are to progress.

Elsewhere, there is sympathy for Ukraine who suffered a 1-0 loss to Wales through an Andriy Yarmolenko own goal. With Portugal winning 4-0 against Switzerland including a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo, yet Denmark surpassing France with a 2-1 victory, it seems it is anyone’s guess as to who may run out winners overall.

Ultimately, England must now focus on Germany and take each game as it comes. Without taking anything away from the UEFA Nations League, Southgate must exploit this tournament as an opportunity to find out a system that will optimize performance ahead of the World Cup later this year. No doubt he will be receiving a host of external pressures from fans and the media, but we must support our players and staff if we are to be successful, something in which has been hard to come by. 

Image – Getty

Alfie Bobbins - Integral Sports Management.

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