Euro 2020: What England need to change against Czech Republic – Alan Shearer



Alan Shearer

There was a lot of doom and gloom after England’s disappointing draw with Scotland but now the dust has settled hopefully everyone has realised there is no need to panic.

I’ve seen it suggested that we have to ditch our whole attack for Tuesday’s game with the Czech Republic, which will decide who tops Group D at Euro 2020, but that is nonsense.

What we do need to do is increase our intensity, move the ball quicker and get it forward more. We also did not put enough balls into the box from our full-backs when we had the chance on Friday, particularly from the right.

There is no doubt Harry Kane looked leggy, so he cannot put all the blame on his team-mates, but I put that poor England performance down to a combination of things – and we can put a lot of them right against the Czechs.

I remember after two group games at the 2018 World Cup, people were talking about where we should try to finish and what would be our easiest route to the final.

Let’s forget about that, this time around. Second place might look appealing because we would avoid one of the giants from Group F in the last 16 – France, Portugal or Germany – but we would probably only end up playing one of them in the quarter-finals instead.

So, I don’t think we should even worry about who would be our preferred opponents. Let’s just look after ourselves and get the job done.

I want a positive performance, and a win to set us up nicely for the next stage. That would mean us topping the group to stay at Wembley in the first knockout round, which would be a big advantage whoever we face.

We don’t need two holding midfielders against the Czechs

Young Billy Gilmour was the star of the show on Friday. What a game to make your first senior start for your country in, and to put in a display like that for Scotland at Wembley speaks volumes about the player he is.

Jude Bellingham is capable of making the same impact in England’s midfield if he is given the chance and the 17-year-old is someone I would look to bring in now.

Gareth Southgate was right to start Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice against Croatia because they gave us the runaround in the middle of the park when they beat us in the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup.

It worked perfectly against them last weekend, but not against Scotland.

We were too slow and ponderous in possession and we did not need two men in that midfield holding role. It meant there was no penetration, from players trying to break Scotland’s defensive lines, and we were too predictable on the ball.

The Czechs will carry a threat of course – Patrik Schick is the tournament’s joint leading scorer and looks full of confidence – but as a team I think they will sit back and try to make it difficult for us to break them down.

They only need a draw to top the group, and it will be down to England to go at them and stop them getting it. That’s why one holding midfielder will be enough.

Kane will get better, and so will England

We still haven’t conceded a goal in this tournament but we have also only scored once so far.

Someone has got to provide the creative spark if we are going to win on Tuesday and playing Jack Grealish would definitely help us there.

I know he came on for the last half-hour against Scotland, but that wasn’t enough time to impact that game.

If Grealish starts this time, he freshens up our attack and gives us that extra threat running at defenders that we saw so little of against Scotland – we did not get Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount on the ball like we did against Croatia.

One player who has to keep his place, though, is Harry Kane. Forget about leaving our captain and our leader out – he is the Premier League’s top scorer and also made the most assists, so to drop him now would be ridiculous.

He is proven at this level too as we saw in Russia three years ago. If we are going to go deep into this tournament, we are going to need him at his best.

We haven’t seen that from him at Euro 2020 but we know how good he is. Harry hasn’t looked sharp in our first two games and hasn’t scored either, but he’s hardly had a sniff of a goal so far because of the shortage of service.

One chance and one finish and that all changes. I am confident he is going to get better – and so are England.

Alan Shearer was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

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