Questions return for England after Ukraine draw

England manager Gareth Southgate saw his winning run in the 2024 European Championships qualifying campaign come to an end last weekend as we were held to a draw by Ukraine.

A packed out stadium in Poland saw Arsenal’s Oleksandr Zinchenko open the scoring 26 minutes in to the first half, and although England were level again prior to the half time break as Manchester City’s Kyle Walker scored his first international goal (on his 77th appearance), it was a game we struggled in.

England had plenty of possession, but did not really ever truly look like winning the game as the creativity on the day was just not there. Even the equaliser could be described as fortunate, as it needed a moment of individual brilliance from Harry Kane in the set up. The second half did see some improvement on that front, and Bukayo Saka saw an effort turned onto the bar, but there was really little else of note to discuss given how lacklustre and poor a performance it actually was, fun88 it was not.

Southgate’s side are still firmly on course to qualify through from Group C to next summer’s Germany hosted tournament given the results so far, but the performance will again raise questions about his far more conservative style of play, despite the actual attacking options and flair that the current group of players could boast if the shackles were slightly released.

Speaking to the media after the game, the England gaffer admitted that they did not ‘quite click’ when it came to our attacking display, but he seemed content to just play it down as one of those days rather than any lingering issues in the set up or game plan and tactics.

“We’re not going to win every game by fours and sevens. That was a really good test – away from home, very passionate atmosphere, quite a few changes forced from the last game. Sometimes, especially with attacking play, it doesn’t quite click. We know that the patterns that we worked during the week are what we always do, so it’s not that we approach the game in a different way.”

He went on to explain.

“I think what I liked was the control of the game that we had when you come into an intense atmosphere. I thought we played with real composure up until the final third and then I think by the time we scored the goal we’d had over 70 per cent of the ball but that was our first attempt on target.”

After that showing, fans will undoubtedly be wondering if there is another level in this group though, particularly when it comes to winning tournaments. Despite the winning run, that doubt and concern certainly has not gone away – many will continue to think that there is still something missing when it comes to truly getting over the line.

Questions return for England after Ukraine draw

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