England have major ‘Achilles heel’ which may block Euro 2024 success
England legend Stuart Pearce has identified what he believes is a major Achilles heel that could prevent Gareth Southgate’s side from winning Euro 2024. The Three Lions are favourites to end their 58-year for major silverware in Germany next year but Pearce isn’t convinced.
England finished top of their qualifying group to ensure they will be seeded for the draw on December 2. They won six of their eight matches, drawing away to Ukraine and North Macedonia.
It was the second of those fixtures which caused Pearce the most concern. England limped to a 1-1 draw in North Macedonia on Monday, although they would argue VAR was not on their side.
There was a clear lack of creativity in a team that was missing Jude Bellingham through injury and top goalscorer Harry Kane from the start. England also only beat Malta 2-0 on Friday in a less-than-convincing performance.
As is often the case under Southgate’s management, qualification was plain sailing. But Pearce believes there were big areas of concern that could come back to bite England next summer.
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He said on talkSPORT: “I always put a positive slant on things, but I have got to say alarm bells will be ringing in regards to these two games [Malta and North Macedonia]. We just haven’t been able to break teams down freely.
“I think that is an Achilles heel of ours. As a counter-attacking team, where teams come on to us, we aren’t bad when we have space.
“But we’ve got to work out how to break these teams down. I think our build-up from the back line is too slow and easy to defend.”
Trent Alexander-Arnold started both matches in his new role in midfield. But it is that area of the park where Pearce believes improvement is needed.
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He added: “We are too slow in midfield. We need to mix it up. There are too many short passes.
“Every time we played the ball over the top, we either regained it 40 yards up the pitch or were in behind their defence. And this isn’t kick and rush, it’s a cultured pass.
“If you are playing at the top end of the pitch and you know that ball’s not forthcoming, you might make one or two runs, but eventually, you say, ‘I am not running in behind because you aren’t even looking for the ball in behind’.
“Ollie Watkins made as few runs tonight as I have ever seen him; for him to do that [make runs], you have to supply him with the ball.”
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