England won their first game at a European Championships after beating Croatia 1-0 in their Group D opener yesterday. The starting 11 was hotly debated. So how did the players who were selected perform?
Jordan Pickford – 6.5
Pickford wasn’t tested much by the Croatia attack but he dealt well with everything he had to do and was alert when called upon by his own players such as Trippier’s under-hit header. However, his kicking was slightly wayward at times.
Kyle Walker – 6.5
Passing was a bit loose and wayward at times but overall, Walker was very assured defensively. He also started the move that led to England’s goal.
John Stones – 7
Very composed with the ball. Didn’t have too much to do defensively, but he coped well when called upon. Stones made one important block in the second half to protect England’s lead, but otherwise was largely untested. Broke up play well.
Tyrone Mings – 7
There was a lot of uncertainty and debate about who would partner John Stones in either a 2 or a 3 instead of the injured Harry Maguire. But under a lot of scrutiny, Mings performed very well. Mings was in the right place at the right time throughout the game as he cut out several crosses, made several blocks and made some crucial interceptions.
He seemed to work well with Stones as one or both of them were on hand to deal with any potential.
He also showed a side of his game that perhaps a lot of people haven’t seen before. He showed a good range of passing. One instance was an excellently timed and weighted through ball to put Raheem Sterling in behind the Croatian defence.
Kieran Trippier – 6.5
Trippier’s selection at left back ahead of Chilwell and Shaw was a surprise for most and most people wouldn’t have had Trippier in the left back position.
Trippier’s header back to Pickford nearly let Croatia in. Overall, he produced a very good second-half display, especially considering he is happier on the right.
Kalvin Phillips – 8
Phillips wouldn’t have even been in some people’s starting lineup. But for most people, including me, he was the man of the match. He has been dubbed ‘The Yorkshire Pirlo’ by some which shows how highly regarded he is.
Phillips played slightly further forward than he has done previously for England as he was slightly more advanced than Rice. He broke up play and attacks at important moments. His passing was excellent. He had a 100% passing accuracy in the first half (18 out of 18). He had an overall passing accuracy of 94%, he won possession 7 times and completed 2 dribbles.
He played an important part in the England goal. He went past a couple of Croatia players with the ball whilst cutting inside. He then put Raheem Sterling through on goal with a well timed and nicely weighted through ball.
Declan Rice – 7.5
Rice was always looking to do the dirty work to provide the platform for the slightly more creative players. Rice performed an important role as England’s deepest midfielder, protecting a slightly makeshift back four. He linked up well with Phillips and Mount to ensure that central midfield was England’s strongest area.
Mason Mount – 7.5
Mount produced some excellent teasing passes and crosses. Mount was slightly more advanced than Rice, alongside Phillips. He almost set up Kane to make it 2-0 with a ball across the box and fired a free-kick just over the bar.
Overall, Mount’s movement and pressing was good and his passing was efficient. His pressing led to England winning the ball in good positions.
Phil Foden – 7.5
Foden’s curling effort hit the post inside the first six minutes, having cut inside and beaten Jokko Gvardiol. Foden offered good energy and pressing.
Raheem Sterling – 7.5
The local boy or ‘The boy from Brent’ scored the breakthrough goal in the second half. Even in the first half when not everything he tried came off – he was always involved and looking for the ball. He missed several chances which included firing over when the ball dropped to him from a corner but, most importantly, he scored the crucial goal.
Harry Kane – 6
Kane worked hard but had a quiet first half as England’s midfielders tended to find Sterling and Foden with their passes. He collided with the post trying to get on the end of a cross from Mason Mount and was substituted for Jude Bellingham late on.
Marcus Rashford – worked hard, didn’t really have a chance to get hugely involved as England held on to their lead.
Jude Bellingham – became England’s youngest ever player to play at a European Championship and at a major tournament. He suffered a nasty clash of heads but was able to play on.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin – too late to make an impact but helped to see the game out.
England were very assured and comfortable overall. They will probably face both easier and tougher tests ahead. Gareth Southgate will probably feel vindicated as the both the players and the system chosen worked well.
England’s next opponents are Scotland at Wembley on Friday before their final group game against Czech Republic on Tuesday 22nd June.
Featured image credit – https://twitter.com/iF2is/status/1404095711474561025/photo/1