When Gareth Southgate said of England, “Make your own history” often sounds like a buzzword, but at Wembley this afternoon his players turned their ideas into reality in the most profound and exciting way imaginable.
Everything is this way: England advance to the quarter-finals. A manageable path back to Wembley. but also the entire range of the Southgate project. His New Army — Full Control No Risk — It’s a bet that the outcome will adjust the performance. If this isn’t the biggest game in Southgate’s tenure, it’s the biggest test.
If England loses here The public may feel that three years have passed since Russia̵7;s defeat. And even the three group stage games missed out on having fun.
Southgate will never win a big bet in his life, at this point it is almost impossible to imagine a bigger excuse. It’s not just for decisions and refinements this week. But for everything Southgate has done in his six years. Everything that felt temporary or late earlier today – Southgate’s coaching, his tactics, his ability to beat top teams, 3-4-3 – now feel fully paid off.
and any questions about the public relationship with Southgate. Understandable clamor for favorite players. Their tactical doubts were answered when they saw a large group of white shirts in the southern stands as these two hit the gates. This Wembley never There are games like this like the old stadiums do. And the fact that the stadium was not full immediately felt irrelevant when the celebrations began. This is still a very collective experience. The impossible in the last 18 months. And it shows that if England continues to win Public complaints about tactics or style will melt into the air.
There are moments in this tournament where Southgate surprises or becomes unpopular. Just to prove that the events on the field were correct. It happened to Croatia when he stuck with Raheem Sterling in England’s only goalscoring form. It happened to the Czech Republic when he promoted Bukayo Saka to the team ahead of his more experienced team-mates and Saka tore up the resistance to make another win for England.
But these qualifying decisions seem trivial compared to the massive call Southgate made against Germany – to cancel 4-2-3-1, the only system he played in 2021. Have four attacking players enter the field and an announcer. At least in theory the goal
Southgate dropped and replaced it with the 3-4-3 system he used last fall. Back when England played a game of closed doors for a long time. That at the time felt like a pointless practice to put games on TV. But those games gave Southgate a chance to experiment, bringing back Kyle Walker to the right of the back three. This gives his team more control while still producing enough strikers. When England beat Belgium 2-1 at Wembley in October It just gave them a template.
So Southgate went back to 3-4-3, even if it meant dropping Jack. Grealish, the public’s favorite, left additional defenders. He bets on control Match the system of Germany and put pressure on them one-on-one across the pitch judged by social media It’s the most unpopular decision Southgate has ever made. Judging by the match, it is considered the best.
After a shake-up in the first 10 minutes when England looked like a staring rabbit. too much respect for Germany and is too deep They have control over the game. They pushed onto the pitch and were happy to defend in midfield. by denying space for Thomas. Muller and Kai Havertz to play And the tone is most evident by Harry Maguire, he is a player bought by English football fans. The way he did everything with loud emphasis. when he won two fierce challenges with Muller. Once after 17 minutes, five minutes later The crowd felt that something had changed.
Not everyone gets to play as a back three. But the beauty of having Walker alongside Stones and Maguire is that he’s quick enough to defend the back foot when Timo Werner and Havertz try to catch up with England. Walker was always fast enough to stop them. Walker’s greatest gift for England and Manchester City is that he allows his team to defend aggressively but never in danger.
Luke Shaw and Kieran Trippier pushed higher onto the pitch. able to freeze their German counterparts And England were able to camp in the dangerous part of the English field, just as Southgate had intended. dominate the game The system has performed the first part of the job. But England’s challenge was to create chances from open play when Kane failed to turn around at the end of the first half. You could be forgiven for thinking the door would never come.
But as good as the first half for Southgate and England. Nothing compares to what will happen next. If the first half is chess It’s all about accurate movement and distance. The second half felt like ice hockey in comparison. The players are tired structural loss system And the empty space across the field, quality deteriorated, tension increased. and it felt as if something had happened. Whether it’s a goal, a red card or who knows what will happen.
And this is when Southgate introduced Grealish. It might be preferable to do it sooner. But this was the perfect time with a grueling Germany with more space. Grealish was greeted by the crowd as a conquering hero. And within minutes he helped England take the lead. Sterling and Kane to Grealish to Shaw to Sterling and England up 1-0.
It might also be a popular decision to remove Sterling or Kane before that. And there was a moment in the second half where Kane, who faced a challenge with Mats Hummels, looked like he might not be able to continue. But Southgate stuck with both of them. And in the end the two rewarded him with a door.
The second came when Shaw relentlessly stole the ball from Serge Gnabry. Driving forward and combining Grealish down the left again, Grealish – for the second time at this Euros – played a perfect cross and this time with Kane in the lead.
Kane celebrates with the relief of a man who has proven his own guilt. This was his first goal at Euro 2020 in his fourth match and finally his campaign is underway. There are other players Many that happily celebrated at the end. which may look back on this game with love. This was a time when they faced the biggest challenges of their international careers and found a deep substitute in themselves to deal with it. That’s true for every English player today. And the list of players who do this is just looking at the team schedule.
But those personal excuses were nothing compared to what Southgate received. He was too humble to speak in these terms. But this is true This is his test. His bets, his team, his game plan, his system, his substitutions. and in the end, his victory
(Top photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images)