Euro 2021Football

“If it goes wrong you’re dead”: Gareth Southgate explains his calculated risk of using the Back-3 formation

England manager Gareth Southgate took a huge risk in tonight’s Round of 16 match against Germany by making some big tactical tweaks in the playing 11, which might have put the Englishman into a big trouble had his calculations gone wrong. He admitted the same in the post match interview in which he opined that he would have been ‘dead’, had his decisions backfired.

Gareth Southgate had used the vintage 4 at the back system in all of England’s three group stages, and they had done decently well with that approach. Though it did not bring them a lot of goals, their fluidity under that system looked baffling and their defence was rock solid.

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England played with the classic 4-3-3 formation in the first two matches which was shifted to 4-2-3-1 in their last group stage match against Czech Republic.

To everyone’s surprise, Gareth Southgate tweaked their proven strategy and set up the three lions in a 3-4-2 system against the mighty Germans with Harry Maguire, John Stones and Kyle Walker at Centre Backs – a risk that could cost them the match against an opposition as rigid as the Nationalelf. Fortunately, the change did wonders for Southgate’s men and they sealed the match convincingly in a 2-0 victory.

Why did Gareth Southgate use the Back-3 formation

Explaining the reason behind the change in formation, Southgate said: “You know you change the shape, you pick certain personnel in place of others and if it goes wrong you’re dead,” Southgate told BBC One. “We had to go about it in the way we believed. We wanted aggressive pressure all over the field and we felt that to match them up was the right way of doing that.

“We felt that speed in behind Harry would cause them problems. I thought that Bukayo [Saka] and Raheem really created that jeopardy behind their backline right from the start. We also defended brilliantly and our goalkeeper was immense. It was a tremendous performance.”

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Gareth Southgate’s reaction on the victory

Harry Kane’s first goal of the Euro 2020 came tonight as England sealed an emphatic 2-0 victory against Germany

“I just thought it was a brilliant afternoon,” Southgate said. “We talked about bringing enjoyment to the nation and afternoon’s like that are what it’s all about.

“The players were absolutely immense right through the team. The fans were as well – only 40,000 but it was as good an atmosphere as I can remember in Wembley.

“We played extremely well, I think we deserved the win but I’ve had to say to them straight away, ‘Look, I’m the party pooper, because if we don’t capitalise on Saturday now then it doesn’t count for anything’.”

He added: “When I got in the dressing room, they were talking about Saturday already. It has been an immense performance but at a cost emotionally and physically. We need to make sure we recover well. It is a dangerous moment for us.

“We will have that warmth of the feeling around the country that we will only have to turn up to win it but it will be an immense challenge. I think the players know that. They have been to the latter stages before and know how difficult that has been. Their feet are on the ground but they should feel confident from the way they played and manner of the performance.

“We came here with an intention and we have not achieved that yet. We haven’t put together a semi-final win after a quarter-final win since 1966. These boys keep writing history and I think we have a chance again. We have only been to one European Championship semi-final and we have a chance to do something special.”

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