Germany coach Joachim Low has not forgotten England’s outstanding strength at the 2018 World Cup, admitting his side “need to improve, especially at set-pieces” ahead of next week’s seismic clash at Wembley.
Nine of England 12 goals in Russia came from set-pieces (four corners, two free-kicks and three penalties, two of which were won on corners), but they have been far less threatening at Euro 2020, leaving Gareth Southgate concerned.
The England boss was not impressed with England’s dead-ball delivery in the 1-0 win over the Czech Republic and knows they need to improve.
Mason Mount and Phil Foden were on set-pieces in the build-up to Tuesday, but the former was ruled out after being forced into isolation and Southgate decided not to risk Foden, who was on a yellow card.
“We had an issue against the Czechs as in training it was Foden and Mount, so that wasn’t helpful,” said Southgate. “Our delivery hasn’t been good really. There was the one where [John] Stones hit the post [against Scotland], which was bang on the money, and [Kieran] Tripper’s delivery in the first game was excellent, and we haven’t matched that since. They are crucial in big matches and we have to get those nailed.”
Without Mount and Foden, Luke Shaw and Kalvin Phillips took over set-piece duty, drawing criticism from Jose Mourinho, who described their delivery as “dramatically bad”.
Southgate now has a dilemma.
With Mount unable to train with the team and not due out of isolation until the night before the game, the Chelsea playmaker is unlikely to start against Germany and restoring Foden would mean leaving out one of Jack Grealish or Bukayo Saka, who were so impressive against the Czechs.
Southgate could therefore turn to Trippier — England’s most effective set-piece taker in Russia — although that would rob England of Kyle Walker’s pace or the natural balance offered by the left-footed Shaw.
The England manager has five clear days to work on a solution, while Low will spend the same period planning his side’s response.
Mourinho told talkSPORT: “[England] were very poor on attacking corners. The service was dramatically bad. They have so many good players to attack corners. Luke Shaw, in my opinion, very good tonight but very poor on the corner. Kalvin Phillips, the same.”