Going into Euro 2020, there was a lot of talk around Gareth Southgate and whether he had the tactical adroitness to achieve success with England.
Pundits such as Julien Laurens for ESPN publicly stated that they didn’t like the former player as a manager. Even after making it to the final of the tournament, some experts have said that it was because England had the lucky side of the draw.
When you delve into the reasons that have helped England get this far, though, it is clear that Southgate deserves a lot of credit.
England in First Final Since 1966
Under Southgate’s wing, the Three Lions have made it to the final of a major international tournament and are the favourite to win against the Azzurri at Wembley Stadium. The Italy v England betting odds have them at 13/8 to be crowned champions. Their performance so far has been nothing short of impressive: England only conceded one goal in their first six games and scored ten at the other end. This suggests that they are deservedly named as the team most likely to lift the trophy.
Most people in England are currently walking around in a daze, wondering if they’re living in some sort of an alternate reality. For many, Euro 96 is but a distant memory of when England was last on the precipice of success. Their Euro Championship glory was cut short at the semi-finals when Southgate himself missed a penalty against rivals Germany.
How apt that 25 years later, it’s Southgate leading a fresh squad to potential victory.
Southgate Has Meticulously Planned This Journey
Looking at England’s progress through Euro 2020, it’s clear that Southgate planned everything meticulously. People complained during the group stages that England was boring and that the manager wasn’t utilizing his wealth of attacking gems in the best way possible. Now, though, it’s clear that he had purposely tasked his players with playing conservatively in those opening fixtures. This helped them to conserve energy, and allowed them to move up the gears when it came to the knockout stages.
In England’s 2-0 win against Germany, Southgate opted to change formation from 4-2-3-1 to a 3-4-3. This turned out to be a clever tactical decision as it cancelled out Germany’s main threat – the wingbacks. Kane also began to hit form in the match, at just the time that England needed him to do so. It all felt like a perfectly orchestrated masterplan from the England boss.
Cleverly Drawing on a Wealth of Knowledge
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Southgate’s work towards getting England to the final began way before the tournament. After coming close during the World Cup in Russia in 2018, the 50-year-old knew that he needed to change his approach. He commissioned an extensive study into past major tournaments to find out what the common success formula was of the teams that went all the way.
The evidence highlighted that defence was key, which is why Southgate has opted to use two holding midfielders throughout. Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice have been so pivotal to England’s fortunes at Euro 2020, it shows that this is another thing that the former Middlesbrough manager nailed.
There is no doubt that Southgate deserves a huge amount of credit for leading England to the final of Euro 2020. He has already achieved the status of one of the greatest managers in the country’s history and looks to have a bright future ahead of him.