‘Not good enough’ – Southgate warns England need defensive improvement ahead of Euro 2020 opener

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The Three Lions’ campaign starts against Croatia on Sunday but the coach warns they must be in better shape than they were against Romania on Sunday

Gareth Southgate has warned that England have “a lot of work” to do before their first game of Euro 2020, highlighting their defending as a key area that needs improvement.

After getting the better of Austria last week, the Three Lions beat Romania 1-0 on Sunday in their last friendly before the tournament begins.

Southgate’s team will open their Euro 2020 campaign with a match against Croatia at Wembley on June 13 and the coach fears they are still not good enough in some aspects.

What has been said?

“I didn’t like us without the ball in the first half but that was the whole team. That started from the front,” Southgate told reporters when asked about his side’s defensive work.

“We weren’t disciplined in the way we defended. Our recovery runs were not good enough. It meant that the midfield was stretched and the back players had too many decisions to make.

“They were having to come in spaces where they shouldn’t have needed to be. 

“Without doubt we can improve on that. I have also got to allow the team that played the reality that we had made a lot of changes and had to preserve some players and give others minutes that they needed. 

“There is a lot of work to be done on the training ground as, without a doubt, we cannot give up the number of chances we did [against Romania] and not expect to be punished.

“We can improve on all the small details in the two performances we have had. We were able to pick up a lot of learnings from the first game and feed them in to [Sunday’s game]. You know, some of the things on discipline and details on defending set plays.”


Southgate not settled on a starting XI

The England boss is open to changing his starting line-up throughout the tournament to accommodate for the strength of their opponents.

He added: “The best team for the game with Croatia may not be the best team for the game with Scotland. We have to make sure we get those calls right.

“Of course myself and Steve [Holland] have monitored these players so closely for 12 months so although we learn from these games, there are also things in those matches that we have seen over a longer period of time.

“So we are not surprised by things. These matches confirm things for us.

“I go away and have my individual thoughts but all of my coaches are the same and we come together and discuss those things and thrash them around and test the robustness of any decisions we are deciding on.

“But we have another week’s training to get through as well.

“Every time I have ever written a team down on a scrap of paper over the last 12 months I have had to get the pencil with the rubber out and changed it because we have lost people. So I am loathed to pen it in ink.

“Hopefully we can avoid any injury or illness issues in the next few days.”

Who will England face at Euro 2020?

After the clash against Croatia, England will take on Scotland on June 18.

They will then round off the group stage when they meet Czech Republic on June 22.

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