England are the slowest team when it comes to building attacks at Euro 2020, statistics show, with the Three Lions struggling for creativity despite winning Group D to advance to the last-16.
Gareth Southgate’s men have eased through the first stage of the tournament, the 1-0 win over the Czech Republic adding to their slim victory over Croatia, with the team yet to concede a goal.
But at the other end of the pitch they have been heavily criticised after scoring just twice and failing to break down Scotland in their second game at Wembley, which saw fans and pundits show their frustration after the 0-0 draw.
England are the slowest team at Euro 2020 when it comes to building attacks, figures show
Gareth Southgate’s men have been criticised for their ponderous approach to games
England bounced back from the disappointment against the Scots on Tuesday night as Raheem Sterling netted his second of the competition after hitting the post early on, but in the second half the team were much more ponderous and struggled to build on their early lead.
And stats from Opta show that England have only progressed the ball upfield 0.98 metres per second in open play at the Euros, making them the slowest out of all 24 teams when it comes to building up attacks.
Despite an improved display against the Czechs, figures showed they actually had the slowest build-up play from a single game, moving the ball upfield 0.7 metres per second at Wembley.
Fans and pundits slammed the team after a lack of energy and intent in a 0-0 draw to Scotland
Wales have been the quickest team in their attacking build-ups after an impressive start
|Team||Direct speed (Metres per second)|
Wales put England to shame in this department – topping the standings in attacking build-up speed, with Robert Page’s men excelling with 2.08 metres per second, followed by North Macedonia on 1.71.
The Dragons even bettered some of the favourites for the tournament – with France coming 10th and Germany and Portgual lagging behind in the middle of the table.
Hungary, Denmark and Austria rounded off the top five, with Belgium, Slovakia, Croatia and Sweden joining England at the bottom for slowest attacking build-up.
Direct speed is calculated as the distance covered by the passing sequence towards the opposition goal line (metres) divided by the total sequence time (seconds).
England fans have complained about the team’s timid approach to games in this tournament, with chances hard to come by. Captain Harry Kane has been heavily criticised for failing to sparkle for the team despite finishing as the Premier League’s top scorer. Many fans and some pundits have even called for the Spurs star to be dropped – accusing him of looking tired after his failure to get off the mark.
Harry Kane has struggled – his side have the third-fewest shots per game of all 24 teams
A graph from Opta shows England play more passes per sequence but lack speed when getting the ball upfield
The slow nature of England’s play will hinder Kane and his efforts to fire the team to glory, but the figures also revealed Southgate’s side were also among the most shot-shy teams so far.
England have the third-lowest rate of shots per game, with just 7.3 – only coming above Hungary (5) and Finland (6.3).
Southgate has been forced to defend criticism of England’s style of play, admitting after the Czech Republic win that his side are ‘not fluent’ but believes there is ‘more to come’ as they look ahead to a tough last-16 tie against France, Germany or Portugal.
‘There is more to come from us, definitely. We are not fluent but we have moments where we look a good side.
England boss Southgate has constantly defended his side and believes there is ‘more to come’
‘Who knows whether that is going to be a good draw or not but we wanted to win the group, we wanted to stay at Wembley and we will wait and see who we play.
‘World champions (France), Euro champions (Portugal) and Germany – who look back on song – will be tough opponents but we’ve known that for 18 months. But we look difficult to beat.’
Southgate praised his players for implementing a game plan the team had prepared on the training pitch and said he was particularly impressed with how ‘stable’ they were in possession.
He believes his side are showing ‘adaptability and resilience’ despite the critics of their play, but admitted the players needed to get better at their deliveries from set-pieces, after being so dangerous in that area in the 2018 World Cup.
He believes there were plenty of positives in the win over Czech Republic
‘I thought we started really well, we were stable with the ball, we had worked on some of the stuff in training and credit to the players some things we had to adjust without the ball today. We changed what we were doing overnight because of the different personnel (due to Mason Mount’s forced isolation), so it is a huge credit to the players that they were as stable without the ball as they were,’ added Southgate.
‘I thought there were a lot of positives in the performance both individual and collectively. It was one of those nights where we said to the players there was a bit more freedom because the consequence of a draw or a loss wasn’t fatal, so hopefully a bit less pressure for them to play, which is rare in a tournament.
‘I think what they’re showing is adaptability and resilience. We’ve had to make so many changes and known that players right from the start weren’t available.
‘We have hit the woodwork in all three matches and the other thing we have to get better on is our attacking set-play which is normally such a good source of goals for us and our deliveries have been really poor.’