If it goes wrong, you're dead - Southgate knew the stakes as Germany gamble pays off

By Sports Desk June 29, 2021

Gareth Southgate acknowledged his job as England manager would have been on the line had they not pulled off a 2-0 Euro 2020 last-16 win against Germany.

Reports over the past week have suggested the Football Association (FA) are keen to keep Southgate on beyond the 2022 World Cup, but he has not courted popularity with England's wider fanbase after conservative team selections throughout Euro 2020.

Those same supporters were in raptures at Wembley on Tuesday, when Raheem Sterling's third goal of the tournament and much-needed header for captain Harry Kane gave the Three Lions a stirring triumph over their old rivals.

Southgate reverted to a 3-4-3 setup to match Germany's formation, with defensive midfielders Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips stationed in front of the back three, while the likes of Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford remained unused on the bench.

Jack Grealish did emerge after 69 minutes to provide a creative spark, having a hand in both goals, with the Aston Villa man's omission from the XI another example of Southgate failing to be persuaded by popular opinion.

Speaking to BBC Sport afterwards, he acknowledged such single-mindedness comes with a price.

"You know that if you change the shape, you pick certain personnel instead of others and if it goes wrong you're dead," he said.

"We had to go about it in a way we believe. We wanted aggressive pressure all over the field. We felt that to match them up was the right way of doing that and speed in behind would cause them a problem.

"Bukayo [Saka] and Raheem, right from the start really created that jeopardy in their backline.

"We know that they were going to have moments of possession because they've got really good footballers and experienced players. But the whole team defended incredibly – the goalkeeper, right the way through.

"It was a fabulous performance, I can't give enough credit to the players."

Pre-tournament scrutiny over Sterling's worth to the England cause have been buried by weight of goals, but three laboured and scoreless group-stage outings prompted questions that Southgate was glad to see Kane answer.

"They both have to prove people wrong all the time," he added.

"Raheem has been immense for us over a three or four year period. We've got that faith and trust in him and his performances have been electric right from the start.

"For Harry, a really important moment I think. When you're a centre-forward, it doesn't matter what else you're doing in the game, you need those goals."

Related items

  • Rumour Has It: Chelsea, Man Utd eye Monaco star Tchouameni Rumour Has It: Chelsea, Man Utd eye Monaco star Tchouameni

    Aurelien Tchouameni has established himself as one of the brightest young midfielders in European football over the past season.

    The 22-year-old is a mainstay in the Monaco side and is already a full France international.

    He is under contract until 2024 but seems destined to move on sooner rather than later, with Europe's biggest clubs said to be interested.

     

    TOP STORY – TCHOUAMENI TO COMMAND HUGE FEE

    According to Marca, Premier League giants Chelsea and Manchester United have both identified Tchouameni as an option to boost their midfield.

    The report claims that Monaco have set an asking price of between €80million and €100m (around £66.5m to £83.2m).

    Monaco's Ligue 1 rivals Paris Saint-Germain, as well as LaLiga leaders Real Madrid, are also credited with an interest.

    ROUND-UP

    Fabrizio Romano reports Liverpool have agreed personal terms with Luis Diaz, and that the deal with Porto is now nearing completion.

     

    Sky Italia has claimed Tottenham want to sign Juventus' Dejan Kulusevski, after missing out on Diaz.

    Aston Villa face competition from Lyon for Rodrigo Bentancur, who is now a target for the Ligue 1 club, according to multiple reports.

    Sky Sports has reported Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been the subject of interest from Juventus and Barcelona.

    Tottenham and Lyon are in advanced negotiations over Giovani Lo Celso, while the French side also want to sign Brest playmaker Romain Faivre, so says Fabrizio Romano.

    Romano also reports Valencia are hopeful of loaning Bryan Gil from Spurs, and Crystal Palace are in talks with United over a move for Donny van de Beek.

  • Colombia enduring wretched goalless run to leave World Cup hopes in doubt Colombia enduring wretched goalless run to leave World Cup hopes in doubt

    Colombia continued their wretched goalscoring run on Friday as their bid to qualify for the 2022 World Cup took another blow.

    Reinaldo Rueda's side were stunned by Peru in Barranquilla as an 85th-minute goal from Edison Flores secured a 1-0 win for the visitors.

    Colombia had 30 shots to Peru's four, with 2.35 expected goals to their opponents' 0.36, and had more than five times as many touches in the opposition box. Somehow, they failed to make their dominance count.

    The result means Colombia have now gone six games in a row without scoring, with Paraguay also enduring the same barren run. It is the second-longest run of matches without a goal in the history of South American World Cup qualifying.

    It also leaves them in sixth place in the standings after 15 games, with Uruguay two points ahead and Peru three above them. Only the top four – presently Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Peru – will automatically qualify for the finals in Qatar.

    Colombia, whose only goals since September 10 last year came in a 2-1 friendly win over Honduras this month, will face Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela in their final qualifying matches.

  • Juventus seal €70m deal for Fiorentina star Vlahovic Juventus seal €70m deal for Fiorentina star Vlahovic

    Juventus have completed the signing of highly rated Dusan Vlahovic from Fiorentina for a fee of €70million.

    The striker, who turned 22 on Friday, agreed to a four-and-a-half-year deal with the Bianconeri and passed a medical.

    Juve will pay the €70m fee over three financial years, plus additional costs of €11.6m. A further €10m will be due to Fiorentina should Vlahovic meet certain sporting objectives.

    Vlahovic is the joint-top scorer in Serie A this season with 17 goals from 21 appearances – a tally only matched by Lazio's Ciro Immobile.

    He has been linked with a host of top clubs across Europe after his impressive form over the past two seasons.

    Vlahovic joins Massimiliano Allegri's Juve team, who have often struggled to turn possession into goals this season, having scored just 34 times across 23 Serie A games.

    That means their attack is the 11th-best in the league, way behind leading scorers Inter (53), while Fiorentina have scored 41 times so far with Vlahovic on board.

    Serbia international Vlahovic, who joined La Viola from Partizan in 2018, has converted 28 big chances since the start of last season, more than any other player in Serie A.

     

    His tally of 21 goals during 2020-21 was the highest recorded by a Fiorentina player in a single campaign since Alberto Gilardino in 2008-09 (25).

    Vlahovic also netted 33 league goals in 2021; matching Cristiano Ronaldo’s record for the most scored in the Italian top-flight during a calendar year. 

    Last week, Fiorentina chief executive Joe Barone confirmed the club were open to selling Vlahovic, who subsequently missed Sunday's draw with Cagliari due to a positive COVID-19 test.

    Vlahovic's arrival in Turin may pave the way for Alvaro Morata to leave Juve, with Barcelona reportedly keen on signing the Spain international, who is on loan from Atletico Madrid.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.