Gareth Southgate’s England team warmed up for their next round of Nations League games with a convincing 3-0 win over Wales. The game featured a hat-trick of firsts for the Three Lions, as Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Danny Ings and Conor Coady all scored their first England goals during the victory.
You can find a full detailed game report on the BBC website here.
1 – FRONT THREE PLAY
After struggling in the final third while using the same 3-4-3 system at Denmark recently, England fielded an all new front three of Calvert-Lewin, Ings and Jack Grealish. For a first time out together, the trio showed a good understanding of each other’s movement and worked in unison well.
For the first goal, Ings checked to the ball dragging center back Joe Rodon high out of position leaving Grealish 1v1 against covering midfielder Ethan Ampadu, a situatio he exploited by creating space and sending over a cross for Calvert-Lewin to head home.
Everton star Calvert-Lewin played central while Ings and Grealish moved well on either wing to pick the ball in space or link with the central striker.
2 – RED HOT FORM OF DCL CONTINUES
Everton striker Calvert-Lewin has started the Premier League season on fire netting a goal in both of his league games to date while also scoring an EFL Cup hat-trick against West Ham United. He continued that hot streak with his first international goal here when he headed home a Danny Ings cross to open the scoring.
The striker played the role of central target man well, dominating in the air and holding the ball giving England’s attacks times to develop. Calvert-Lewin also linked well with the rest of the front three, and if his current form continues could well emerge as a threat to unseat Harry Kane as England’s number 9.
3 – DEFENSIVE STRENGTH
It was a new goalkeeper in the form of Burnley shot stopper Nick Pope, but a familiar solid defensive performance for England who kept their 6th consecutive clean sheet in this game, a run that covers their last three EURO qualifiers, their two Nations League games so far and now this friendly.
Another recent development for England has been the introduction of Coady, who has slotted seamlessly into the defensive line. The Wolverhampton Wanderers center back impressed with a Man of the Match display in Denmark, before adding his first goal at international level here.
1 – MAN DOWN IN MIDFIELD
The 3-4-3 system favoured by Southgate of late does produce some tactical issues when the opponent plays a third man in central midfield. In the recent 0-0 draw at Denmark, attacking central midfield player Christian Eriksen found room easily and pulled strings throughout the game.
In this game, the Welsh trio of Ampadu, Jonny Williams and Joseff Morrell often found themselves a man up in central midfield and were able to connect passes. As the clip below shows when England sent in their wide midfielder to mark the extra man, it allowed Wales an easy ball out if they switched to the opposite fullback.
England did a better job defending when center forward Calvert-Lewin dropped deep to deal with the holding central midfielder Ampadu, wide men Ings and Grealish would then cut off supply to the two Welsh center backs as they were looking to receive possession and build.
2 – KANE NOT ABLE?
It will be interesting to see if England’s star striker Harry Kane returns to the lineup for the upcoming Nations League clash with Belgium, with the impressive performance of Calvert-Lewin not the only factor at play.
Southgate has been involved in a public back and forth with the Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho over the fitness of Kane, with Mourinho suggesting the forward is in need of a rest. Southgate responded by saying Mourinho should be less public with such issues and more aware of the realities of international Football.
England fans will be hoping the inclusion of Kane does not become a long drama as Kane has produced goals in high volume on a consistent basis for the national team.
3 – FIXTURE CONGESTION
Part of Mourinho’s issue with Kane’s inclusion revolved around the shortened preseason that this season allowed. To compound matters, this victory of the Wales was the first of three games in the space of a week for the Three Lions, with upcoming Nations League games against Belgium and Denmark looming.
It will put pressure on Southgate to rotate his lineup and produce consistently good performances with little respite between what are important games in terms of the Nations League group standings.
THE OPPOSITION – WALES
1 – A CENTER FORWARD SHORT?
Wales manager Ryan Giggs had some big names missing for this clash, with Spurs winger Gareth Bale injured and Aaron Ramsey missing due to COVID-19 protocol with his club team Juventus.
However, even at full health Wales seem to be very thin at center forward, a fact that could see them struggle against top tier opposition should a consistent target man not emerge. Cardiff City striker Kieffer Moore started this game and the striker huffed and puffed without really troubling the England backline.
Wales scored 10 goals in their 8 qualifying games during the recent UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying campaign, and Moore was joined by Bale and Ramsey with just 2 goals as the leading goal scorer for the campaign.
2 – MIXED PERFORMANCE FROM WAYNE HENNESSEY
Hennessey is currently the second choice goalkeeper behind Vicente Guaita for his club team Crystal Palace and his lack of match sharpness showed through at times. The keeper dallied on the ball and almost lost possession to Ings early on, and later came off his line to dive at the feet of Calvert-Lewin only to completely miss the ball and be saved by the defending of Chris Mepham. Hennessey also showed indecision on England’s second goal, coming off his line only to change his mind after a few yards and retreat as Coady lashed the ball past him.
The Palace shot stopper did recover to make a couple of good saves during the second half to avoid the scoreline becoming even more lopsided.
3 – SIGNS OF PROMISE
Young Leeds United winger Tyler Roberts showed some real promise on the flank for Wales, while Charlton Athletic midfielder Williams fought well in the heart of midfield and looks like a very influential player for the Welsh. The pair will likely be important figures for Giggs as he prepares his squad for next summer’s European championship.
26’ ENG Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Jack Grealish)
53’ ENG Conor Coady (Kieran Trippier)
63’ ENG Danny Ings (Tyrone Mings)
MAN OF THE MATCH
#9 CF Dominic Calvert-Lewin (England) – The red hot Everton striker carried on his club form and opened his account for England to cap off a performance full of strength, aerial power and skill.
3: CF Dominic Calvert-Lewin – Man of the Match.
2: F Jack Grealish – Playing on the left of a front three, Grealish assisted the opening goal and won the free kick that lad to the second, also put in a good shift defensively, often asked to track Welsh fullback Connor Roberts.
1: F Danny Ings – Scored a spectacular bicycle kick and moved well from his wide position to link with Calvert-Lewin and fellow forward Grealish.
3: RM Tyler Roberts – The quick and direct winger showed quality on the ball and kept England’s left midfielder Bukayo Saka more than busy on the defensive end, simultaneously blunting the Arsenal man’s own attackign threat.
2: CM Jonny Williams – Won plenty of ball and connected passes consistently for Wales in a difficult day against a good England team.
1: LM Rabbi Matondo – The young Schalke winger flashed quality and athleticism in attack as Wales battled to get back in the game.
ENG: Pope, Gomez (Mings), Coady, Keane, Saka (Maitland-Niles), Winks (Ward-Prowse), Philips, Trippier (James), Grealish (Barnes), Calvert-Lewin (Mount), Ings.
WAL: Hennessey, Davies, Ampadu (Vaulks), Rodon (Cabango), C Roberts (Gunter), J Williams (Smith), Mepham, Morrell (Levitt), Matondo, Moore (N Williams), T Roberts.
Highlights can be found on the England YouTube page here.