England vs Croatia Analysis

England got the winning start they needed, beating arguably the toughest opponents in their group. Sterling’s goal in the 57th minute was all England needed to get their Euro 2020 campaign up and running. Kalvin Phillips settled any doubts about his ability to perform on the big stage. He showed creativity and defensive solidarity, as well as grabbing an assist. Although it was a largely uneventful match, England got the job done and this performance should give them the boost they need for their remaining fixtures.

First Half

England made a lively start to the game, with Phil Foden hitting the post early on and a Kalvin Phillips volley forcing Livakovic into a save. England often attempted to exploit Croatia’s high line and bypass their strong midfield with long balls. This approach to the game could be why Southgate opted to start Sterling ahead of Grealish. Sterling thrives off running onto the ball, whereas Grealish, whom many thought should have started, (generally speaking) prefers to have the ball played to feet. The tempo of the match slightly died down soon after, with the teams not being able to create enough solid chances.

Second Half

Sterling did justify his start by scoring the only goal of the game. Phillips did well to take the ball past a couple of players before feeding Sterling, who dropped into a large space in the centre of the Croatian defence, and slotted underneath the keeper. This was his 13th goal in the last 17 games, an impressive feat for any forward. England nearly doubled their lead soon after. A ball into the box from Mason Mount was met by Harry Kane but couldn’t keep his shot down. The England captain had a below-par start to the tournament with a very quiet game. His involvement will be needed for future games, especially as England could only muster two shots on target.

It was the arguably the midfield that shone for England against Croatia. Although the midfield trio were younger and more inexperienced than their Croatian counterparts, they showed a great level of maturity. They pressed well and protected the backline, preventing Croatia from controlling the game. England defended well when called upon and Pickford was barely tested throughout the game.

Overall Conclusion

Croatia will be disappointed by their loss and it didn’t reflect the quality they have on the pitch. However, this was their toughest game, and they will be expecting to pick up maximum points from their remaining group games. On the other hand, England should be pleased with their opening game. Although many fans questioned the line-up, Southgate probably made the right calls in his starting XI. This was a pragmatic performance and we can expect even more from this talented side, as they face their next games.

Author: Joel Abraham

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