After England’s superb display againstsaw them reach the quarter-finals, CHRIS SUTTON delivers his analysis of the big game…
I won’t go as far as pinning up a poster ofon my bedroom wall (like my pal Micah Richards, the president of his fan club) but the midfielder was England’s super-sub on Tuesday night.
Even when he was shown warming up on Wembley Stadium’s big screen, the rumble of excitement in the stands was palpable.
The game had become stale by this point. But then he was introduced, and it all changed. I wish you could bottle his confidence.
Jack Grealish made a huge impact off the bench on Tuesday, setting up the second goal
Grealish believes in himself as a game-changer. He knows he can be the difference between a win and a defeat. He’s shown that so many times for Aston Villa, and he showed that against Germany.
Him and Luke Shaw struck up a nice relationship, combining down that left-hand side in the build-up to both goals.
Credit must also go to Grealish’s manager. He may not have started, but his introduction was timely.
Switzerland boss Vladimir Petkovic got his substitutes spot on against France. He was brave and they beat the tournament favourites because of that. Both Croatia and Spain utilised their benches well, too, before the Spaniards emerged victorious in extra time.
Gareth Southgate should be applauded for making the vital calls as the right time at Wembley
Southgate will have been sat in the team hotel on Monday evening watching these games. He’ll have seen how his counterparts’ substitutions were playing such a pivotal role.
England had outstanding options on their bench, from Jadon Sancho to Phil Foden to Mason Mount to Marcus Rashford. No Dominic Calvert-Lewin, which was a surprising omission given he’s the closest thing to Harry Kane in the squad.
But Southgate had candidates who could come on to change the game. As the hour mark approached, it was vital that England’s manager made the correct call. And he did. Southgate opted for Grealish, and now we’re three wins from history.
Southgate is such a sensible boss. England’s players were having a sing-song in the Wembley changing room on Tuesday then their manager reminded them they’ll have plenty of time to belt out bangers when they win the competition.
Beating Germany is brilliant, but emerging as overall winners of Euro 2020 is better. With Southgate in charge, England have every chance.
He’s been vindicated in so many of the decisions he’s made at this tournament. Southgate opted for a 3-4-3 system to match up to Germany and it kept the opposition’s influential wing backs at bay.
He trusted Kane to come good and he did. Plenty of people were hammering England’s striker at half time. He’d had only nine touches, including the one where he tried and failed to round Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Manager Southgate has been vindicated for every decision he has made so far this summer
Social media was calling for Southgate to substitute his captain. Thank goodness he didn’t. Southgate stood by Kane and now he’s got the goal he’s been craving as we head into the quarter-finals.
What else has England’s manager got right? Southgate rested the Champions League finalists from Chelsea and Manchester City for the two warm-ups, and we can be grateful of that extra rest as this tournament reaches the closing stages.
He chose the perfect time to start Harry Maguire and introduce Jordan Henderson following their injury lay-offs. He’s shown faith in Bukayo Saka and Grealish and been rewarded for that. A manager lives and dies by his decisions. Southgate’s been getting it all right so far.
There were plenty of calls to take Harry Kane off after the first-half, but he stuck by his skipper
That Chelsea connection thought they’d scored for Germany after half an hour. Kai Havertz fed Timo Werner, who only had Jordan Pickford to beat. But he couldn’t.
Pickford smothered the shot and England survived. The Everton goalkeeper has enjoyed an outstanding Euro 2020. I’ve been critical of Pickford myself, and he is proving his critics wrong with each passing clean sheet.
That’s four in a row at this tournament now. He’s been a calming influence in between the sticks, making no mistakes and playing in a smart way.
His temperament seems to have improved, with Pickford recently revealing how he’d been seeing a sports psychologist.
Jordan Pickford put in a huge performance, with some important stops during the clash
Thomas Muller should have scored his one-on-one in the second half. All Pickford could do in that moment was rush out and try to make himself big. Thankfully, Muller missed.
Seeing that shot sail wide made me think an England win was written in the stars! Every player is playing his part at Euro 2020. That includes Pickford.
He’s heavily criticised whenever he isn’t playing well, so let’s give the 27-year-old the credit he deserves for his performances now.
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