Jamie Carragher delivers brutal England verdict after Trent Alexander-Arnold heroics

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Sky Sports TV pundit Jamie Carragher during the Premier League match between Nottingham Forest and Tottenham Hotspur at City Ground on December 15, 2023 in Nottingham, England.
-Credit: (Image: Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images)

England is two matches away from winning a first trophy for 58 years after beating Switzerland on penalties in the quarter-final of Euro 2024. It faces Netherlands on Wednesday, and should it prevail then Spain or France will lie in wait in the final next Sunday.

The decisive spot kick was converted by Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, who only came on with five minutes of extra time remaining. After starting the first two matches, the Reds’ vice-captain got just six minutes against Slovenia before sitting out the Slovakia game entirely.

Alexander-Arnold may yet prove to have played a small but significant role in a monumental summer for England. Former Liverpool center-back Jamie Carragher was pleased that his national side made it through against the Swiss, but was not complementary of the overall performance when assessing it for The Telegraph.

READ MORE: Liverpool transfer news LIVE: Arne Slot's two Dutch targets, Anthony Gordon hope, Joao Neves latest

READ MORE: Gary Lineker spits cold hard facts about Trent Alexander-Arnold after Liverpool star's interview

“This England team can be history-makers,” he wrote. “But relieved as I and millions of others were to see Trent Alexander-Arnold convert the winning spot-kick against Switzerland, there is also an overriding sense of disbelief that England are in this position.”

“We cannot escape reality,” Carragher continued. “We cannot dress it up any other way. England have been extremely lucky, first against Slovakia and now Switzerland. They are through to the last four despite performances, rather than because of them.”

Anyone who has been watching the Three Lions’ efforts in Germany is certain to agree with the Sky Sports pundit. The data from the matches emphasizes the point. Only against Slovenia has England won the expected goal totals by a significant margin, and even then it was only 0.8 to the good. It amassed 0.7 xG less than Slovakia, 0.8 less than Switzerland.

Carragher highlighted the side’s attacking woes too. “When [Bukayo] Saka equalised on Saturday, it had been over 90 minutes over two games since England had a shot on target – which was Harry Kane’s winner against Slovakia,” he noted.

With an eye on a potential final against France, who have also struggled at times at Euro 2024, Carragher was quick to highlight the difference in standard of opposition faced. “Didier Deschamps’ side have played three of the seven highest-ranked countries in world football. The Swiss, rated 19th in the world, are the highest ranked England have played so far,” he wrote.

“With respect, we are not talking about an underdog side going toe-to-toe with superpowers, eking out results by getting the most from their resources. England are dragging themselves down to the level of mediocre teams and just about getting over the line.”

If Gareth Southgate’s side are able to somehow get the job done in Berlin next Sunday evening, not one of their supporters will care a jot. But as Carragher concluded his column: “If England are to transform what we have seen so far into a tournament victory, not for the first time over the last few weeks they are leaving it very, very late to do so.” says: There will be a lot of Liverpool fans rooting for Netherlands in the semi-final, hoping Cody Gakpo, Virgil van Dijk and (yet to play) Ryan Gravenberch can knock out England. Like most observers, Carragher won't be surprised if that is the outcome.