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England's Favorite for the European Championship in Turmoil: Examining the Issues Plaguing the English Squad

Approach and Terror are Carried Forward by Kane

Wake up, men!
Wake up, men!

England's Favorite for the European Championship in Turmoil: Examining the Issues Plaguing the English Squad

Is it underwhelming or nerve-wracking? The English football squad's sentiments are divided, not just at this current tournament. But at their second appearance in this competition, the "Three Lions" faced their first significant setbacks.

This European Football Championship has been a grand celebration so far. The Scots aid an elderly woman in the rain and celebrate Germany's beer reserves dwindling, in Dortmund the first pubs sound the alarm. In the same city, the Turks and Georgians enchant the continent with a thrilling exchange that's hard to beat. The German team is making strides towards becoming a title contender, with coach legend Ewald Lienen already eyeing an extravagant victory parade. Austria is holding on to the French and must ultimately concede to the overwhelming talent of the "Equipe Tricolore". The Spaniards are captivating, the Albanians are winning our hearts. Ah, isn't it marvelous.

But not with the English. They had to traverse the "Shithole" of Gelsenkirchen for their first match and couldn't escape it. At least one of them didn't. All the others with considerable delay and bad spirits. And they came into the match in a rather disappointed mood to begin with. The last warm-up before the tournament against Iceland was a "Nightmare at Wembley". Can it really be this, this team is the top favorite for the title. But after the 2nd matchday, they might need to change "are" to "were". With a performance that can be quite accurately labeled as "embarrassing", the "Three Lions" managed a shaky 1:1 draw against Denmark in Frankfurt. Kyle Walker, Manchester City's most decorated defender, sees no problem with the proceedings at the venerable stadium of Eintracht: Defending the top spot in the group, earning a deserved point. That's his view.

This compassionate and exclusive view was shared by the swift left defender exclusively. From home, a scathing headline landed on the lion's head shortly after full-time: "What a poor performance", the "Daily Mirror" criticized. Nothing, really nothing about this game provided evidence for the notion that on July 14th, the great championship longing after 58 years would be realized. Not even their own goal, scored by Harry Kane after 18 minutes. On the left defensive side, Danish Victor Kristiansen falls into a fatal moment of distraction, Walker sprints between, his deflected cross lands at Kane. And he makes things happen from close range then - 1:0. The game had just become a little more lively.

But once again, the English were quickly put back into idle mode and came out seldom after that. Bukayo Saka headed the ball a few minutes after the break towards the outside net, Phil Foden struck the ball a little later after a beautiful, swift move against the post. But otherwise? Football that wasn't really there. An absence, hinting at arrogance. In some situations, clearly beyond that. As if the opponent, who was defeated in the last tournament semifinal after a controversial goal from Kane in the 104th minute, was not taken seriously.

In the 66th minute, the most unsettling scene for all "Three Lions" fans occurred. At their own penalty area, Declan Rice is played a through ball by Kieran Trippier, and the Danes quickly counter-attack. The £120 million pound six of the Lions plays the ball casually into his own net. Rice and his teammates are left in disbelief. What was going on? Intimidated like a frightened kitten, Gareth Southgate's team reacted, and it won't get any quieter for them.

Southgate rarely lets his team off the hook. The big offensive stars, Kane, Foden, and Saka, come out seldom. They can make football look so crazy and simple, like another sport, even compared to some other European top leagues. And even Jude Bellingham, the star of Real Madrid, got hardly anything going for him on this Thursday evening. The World Star signaled desperately to the referee when he didn't blow the whistle, when his teammates once again had no good idea of how to shape the game back in their favor.

"Distracted" Kristiansen delivers the equalizer

During an attack, Kane lost the ball with a disastrous pass in the center. The Danes capitalized immediately. "Distracted" Kristiansen played a simple pass to Morten Hjulmand, who lasered the ball from a distance into the corner (34.). Jordan Pickford was powerless. The English team lost their way until the break. They didn't win a single tackle, they fell, they complained, they argued. They weren't playing football, they were just arguing amongst themselves. From the sidelines, where support is often found, there were loud boos. They were growing increasingly frustrated.

Southgate took it all in stride. He let things run their course, even though they weren't heading in a good direction. He made no corrections at the break. After about ten minutes, Conor Gallagher, a midfielder, came on. A controller, not one for the wild go-ahead order. He didn't get a chance. With the persistence of the German Chancellor, Southgate had weathered all debates about a changed starting lineup and a less defensive approach for this offensive beast. Why Cole Palmer, the rising star of Chelsea, had no chance remains a mystery. The English team no longer pressed for the win. Instead, the Danes put pressure on them and had a shot from Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg that was unlucky (85%).

In a live interview on German television, Walker defied the common belief that Southgate restrains his players from advancing. Contrarily, Southgate desires an offensive charge. However, the discussion was abruptly halted, leaving us in the dark about the specifics of the offensive strategy. It's likely that it will be carefully controlled, not reckless. Southgate, who endured the infamous English penalty shoot-out fiasco versus Germany in the Euro 1996 semifinals, is a strong advocate of the defensive approach known as "zero defense." Under Southgate's leadership, England has failed to score in 21 tournament matches, which serves as the foundation for the title win.

Captain Kane expressed understanding for the potential backlash and disappointment at home, reminiscent of the drawn game against Scotland in the previous Euros. Console-lingly, he assured, "We've got this covered. We're leading the table, and there's still room for improvement." Improvement will be necessary to avoid a potential Round of 16 face-off with Germany, which could be a tough cookie to crack.

Read also:

  1. Despite the disappointing performance in the match against Denmark, England remains the favorite to win the European Football Championship 2024, with Harry Kane leading the attack.
  2. Jude Bellingham, the star player for Real Madrid, struggled to make an impact in England's European Championship game against Denmark, adding to the team's concerns ahead of their title defense.
  3. England's campaign in the European Football Championship 2024 continues to be under scrutiny, as their second match resulted in a 1:1 draw against Denmark, with Danish midfielder Jude Bellingham inadvertently scoring an own goal.