Or big hit­ters will ex­ploit weak­ness in fi­nals

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Euro 2020 Qualifier -

long way off foot­ball’s big hit­ters.

Quite sim­ply, Eng­land can­not de­fend against teams that press them ef­fec­tively and spend­ing most of their time play­ing sides such as Bul­garia and Czech Repub­lic, who spend 90 min­utes sit­ting back, is not help­ing South­gate’s men.

Bul­garia ac­tu­ally squan­dered three pre­sentable chances at Wem­b­ley on Satur­day, de­spite be­ing thrashed, but Eng­land’s de­fend­ers had clearly been lulled into a false sense of se­cu­rity by watch­ing most of the ac­tion take place in front of them.

Be­cause af­ter just 35 sec­onds against Kosovo, they were caught out. Ross Barkley did not help Michael Keane out with the pass back­wards that al­lowed Kosovo to close him down.

But what hap­pened next was the stuff of night­mares. Keane pan­icked and tried to play the ball across to Harry Maguire, Ve­dat Muriqi cut it out and gave Valon Ber­isha the chance to bury a shot past goal­keeper Jordan Pick­ford. It is barely worth wor­ry­ing what Ra­heem Ster­ling and Harry Kane might be able to do to France, Bel­gium, Ger­many and Hol­land when Eng­land look so ca­pa­ble of shoot­ing them­selves in the foot.

Keane and right-back Trent Alexan­der-arnold were nowhere to be seen at the start of the sec­ond pe­riod, when the ball drifted over the head of the cov­er­ing Jordan Hen­der­son and fell at the feet of Ber­isha to net his sec­ond of a night he will never for­get.

Then, in the 54th minute, Maguire failed to com­plete a block on Muriqi and ended up bring­ing him down to con­cede a penalty that the striker scored.

South­gate went with the part­ner­ship of Keane and Maguire for this round of qual­i­fi­ca­tion matches, but the duo have not looked like a nat­u­ral pair.

Eng­land do have enough time to make sure they are not still their own worst en­emy once the Eu­ro­pean Cham­pi­onship kicks off. But they must learn lessons quickly.

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