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MARTIN KEOWN: A tale of two strikers awaits at Wembley as Harry Kane looks to get off the mark

MARTIN KEOWN: A tale of two strikers awaits at Wembley as Harry Kane looks to get off the mark at Euro 2020 while Patrik Schick is the tournament’s top scorer… but the Tottenham talisman needs more service if he is to start thriving

  • Harry Kane has not even had a shot on target yet, while Patrik Schick has had six
  • Reece James and Luke Shaw were unusually blunt in attack against Scotland
  • England mustn’t copy Scotland’s initial plan of trying to bully the Czech Republic
  • The Czechs will have sussed out Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount’s runs
  • Sterling and Phil Foden may need to move closer to Kane to help the striker 
  • West Ham’s Vladimir Coufal will hope to replicate his stifling of Jack Grealish 
  • Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here

There is a tale of two strikers in tonight’s clash at Wembley. Harry Kane and Patrik Schick have both faced the same opposition at Euro 2020 – Croatia and Scotland – but the England striker is lagging behind his Czech counterpart in terms of shots taken. 

Kane has managed zero on target while Schick has managed six, one of which was that remarkable 50-yard wonder-strike against the Scots. With three goals, Schick is currently the contender for the Golden Boot award which we assumed Kane would be a major candidate for. 

Scotland’s defenders will have enjoyed seeing England’s No 9 dropping ever deeper against them. Grant Hanley was able to follow him out of the back three with the security of two centre halves covering behind. 

Harry Kane has come off in both England’s Euro 2020 games and is yet to have a shot on target 

Patrik Schick is joint-top scorer along with Cristiano Ronaldo and Georginio Wijnaldum

Patrik Schick is joint-top scorer along with Cristiano Ronaldo and Georginio Wijnaldum

Andrew Robertson provided a much greater attacking threat than Reece James or Luke Shaw

Andrew Robertson provided a much greater attacking threat than Reece James or Luke Shaw

It’s natural for a striker to be tempted to come short if he’s frustrated and isn’t seeing enough of the ball.

Part of the problem is Kane hasn’t had much to attack in the box. Only Hungary and Ukraine produced fewer crosses than England in the opening two group games.

Only Hungary and Ukraine have produced fewer crosses than England at Euro 2020 from the opening two group games. 

Luke Shaw and Reece James have reputations for being two attacking full backs but they only produced one cross apiece against Scotland. Andy Robertson, for example, produced seven crosses all on his own. 

If you create chances for Kane, he’ll score them. He has shown that in the Premier League for years.

England must move ball quicker and change play

Scotland tried the physical approach when they hosted the Czechs at Hampden Park but that didn’t work. Goalkeeper David Marshall was launching the ball long in the hope that the strikers would bring it down, but you cannot bully this Czech side into submission. It was only once the Scots started trying to play in the second half that they posed problems, until Schick sucker-punched them. That’s the way to go at Wembley. 

England have been the slowest side at Euro 2020 in terms of moving the ball up the pitch. Gareth Southgate’s players need to be passing with greater confidence and they could do with creating new patterns on the wings.

There is one recurring move which has become apparent when watching England: how Raheem Sterling will drop towards the ball in order to drag the opposition full back with him and Mason Mount will race into the space behind. It’s the same on the other wing, with Phil Foden and Kalvin Phillips.

Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount's patterns of play may need to change at Wembley

Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount’s patterns of play may need to change at Wembley

Opponents like the Czech Republic will be wise to this, especially after studying how England opened the scoring against Croatia previously. Foden dropped towards the ball and Phillips raced into the space, collecting a pass from Kyle Walker before assisting Sterling to score.

The problem with this pattern of play is that it leaves Mount and Phillips with an incredibly demanding workload.

It is difficult for these midfield players to be constantly breaking into those pockets of space and covering those distances. England could do with changing the picture for the opposition occasionally.

Sterling and Phil Foden may decide to push up to Kane to support the struggling striker

Sterling and Phil Foden may decide to push up to Kane to support the struggling striker

Sterling and Foden could push into more advanced positions and closer to Kane, who should stay higher instead of being the one coming short.

That would leave space for someone like Mount to nip into those pockets instead and give England more options higher up the pitch.

Czechs may use West Ham tactic to tame Grealish

At right back for the Czechs tonight is Vladimir Coufal. He’ll love it if he has someone to mark for 90 minutes.

When Aston Villa faced West Ham in February, Coufal did a job on Jack Grealish. David Moyes was clever in using right back Ryan Fredericks on the wing in front of Coufal that day in order to double up on one of the Premier League’s trickiest players.

It worked, and the Czechs could adopt a similar approach tonight if Grealish is a starter on the left wing. England need to recognise that they will have a free man elsewhere and find him.

Vladimir Coufal shackled Jack Grealish at Villa Park and will hope to do the same on Tuesday

Vladimir Coufal shackled Jack Grealish at Villa Park and will hope to do the same on Tuesday

The Czechs deserve England’s respect. Tomas Soucek and Coufal enjoyed outstanding seasons in the Premier League. We know the Czech mentality is a good one and they’ve got the talent to go with that, with players who compete in leagues all around Europe.

It’s been debated whether it’s best for England to finish first or second in Group D.

It’s a tough draw wherever Southgate’s side finish, but they have enough to end the group stages with a confidence-boosting victory over the Czechs on Tuesday night.



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