Soccer

Three things Southgate learnt from England’s win over Albania ahead of Euros

England have now played their penultimate competitive game ahead of this summer’s Euros, picking up a 2-0 win in Albania.

As expected, the Three Lions never really looked to be in any danger at their own end, and enjoyed the vast majority of the ball.

But they had to wait until the 38th minute to open the scoring when Luke Shaw picked out skipper Harry Kane with an excellent cross which he put away with his head in trademark style.

England continued to bombard the Albania penalty area, but their defence held firm for most half an hour, until Mason Mount was played in by Kane to slot the ball across the face of the goal.

So with a summer of expectation awaiting Southgate’s side, here are three things the Three Lions boss learned for the tournament.

Dominating the ball doesn’t mean dominating the game

England enjoyed 81 per cent possession of the ball in the first half, but fans probably wouldn’t say they were playing well.

Southgate likes to dominate the ball when he can, but against lesser sides, it’s a needless tactic really, and hinders creating goal scoring chances.

Yes, when a Spain or a Germany comes along holding the ball will be key, but let's play without the shackles when possible.

Luke Shaw must start

Shaw is arguably the best left-back in the world right, and showed what he can offer in both defence and attack with a fine assist for Kane to open the scoring.

In his first start since 2018, the Manchester United man picked up his fifth assist in his last 10 starts for club and country with a stellar cross onto Kane’s head.

Ben Chilwell, and in the case of a back five Bukayo Saka, may have something to say about this, but Shaw should definitely be England’s starting left-back for the Euros.

Throw caution to the wind

Playing Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips seemed like a bit of a strange shout, with the creativity of a James Ward-Prowse or Jude Bellingham left on the bench.

And the lack of quality chances created reflected a team playing two defensive-midfielders.

Mason Mount showed just how good he is, and Phil Foden is always dangerous, but it would have been nice to see him in midfield in order to allow another attacking option to start.

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