Nations League: Gareth Southgate explains England defensive changes

John Stones and Gareth Southgate on the pitch

John Stones is still upset by the World Cup semi-final loss to Croatia Credit Getty Images

Eric Dier and Harry Kane hit the woodwork on a night when Marcus Rashford wasted two great chances, meaning the opportunity to exact World Cup revenge went begging as the Group A4 encounter ended goalless on a odd night for all involved.

"The three at the back, the 3-5-2, allowed some players to bed into global football".

"If you look at England's players coming through, there's a lack of understanding about what controlling a game is and that can really influence the tempo of a match and make a game move at the pace they want it to".

After an encouraging performance many England fans will be hoping we get to see more of him against Spain on Monday night.

"For me, the most important thing is we build for two years' time".

Expanding on the thinking behind the change, Southgate added: "I don't think you should be rigid and say that's what we're doing and stick with it regardless".

"Without the ball it meant we were able to get higher and get closer to their midfield".

However, even back in England, the soullessness of seeing the national team play in front of empty stands should be a reminder of the importance of not sacrificing supporters who attend games for increased cash revenue from television deals. Several young players were called up for the Three Lions' upcoming stretch, including 18-year-old Jadon Sancho, who's the first player born this millenium to be selected to the English senior team.

"I was really pleased he was in the areas to get those chances and, with his general performance as the game went on, he looked more and more of a threat", he said.

Gareth Southgate's decision to deploy a back five during the World Cup was justified as England reached their first World Cup final since 1990.

"They've had some wonderful players who have just come to the end, but replaced those with maybe a bit more energy and pace in the forward areas".

Southgate threw on 18-year-old Jadon Sancho for his global debut 12 minutes from time in search of a victor.

Kane saw an effort ruled out for offside and seemingly broke the net in the process, leading to a pause in play that saw England fans get a wave from Pickford. We still have a lot of time ahead of us.

A completely miscued finish was followed by a failure to test Livakovic from a glorious position, squandering two chances to hand England the lead. Both players' first thought seemed to pass backwards or sideways, leaving the creative burden on Ross Barkley exclusively. "And tonight we played well".

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