KATHRYN BATTE: England's loss to Belgium had been coming after wasteful displays in attack and struggles against a low block... it's hard to believe this is a team that nearly won the World Cup 72 days ago

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It is difficult to judge that England were connected nan cusp of winning a World Cup conscionable 72 days ago.

As shocking arsenic nan Lionesses’ conclusion by Belgium was, location was besides a emotion that this was a consequence that had been coming for a while. Sarina Wiegman was visibly unhappy pinch her teams’ display, pinch cameras catching nan head turning distant successful anger and appearing to rima nan words ‘what nan f***’ aft England had conceded.

Wiegman described her team’s show arsenic ‘sloppy’ and insisted they person activity to do. Players looked almost puzzled astatine full-time, arsenic if they could not rather judge what had happened.


‘You study a batch from defeat, that’s really nan greats are made, that’s really awesome teams are made,’ vice-captain Mary Earps said aft nan game. ‘Life isn’t easy, shot isn’t easy.

‘You person to gain it. I deliberation we are moving difficult but we person to find a measurement to triumph - and we are conscionable missing that astatine nan minute.

England 3-2 nonaccomplishment to Belgium was a daze - but it was a agelong clip coming for nan Lionesses 

Sarina Wiegman admitted her broadside were 'sloppy' but has been incapable to alteration her side's attacking struggles successful nan past year 

‘You are not ever going to beryllium astatine nan apical of your crippled each nan time. How galore times do you opportunity nan awesome teams find a measurement to triumph moreover erstwhile they are not playing well, and we person done that previously.

‘Sometimes that keeps everybody happy. I don’t deliberation it is thing to panic astir aliases beryllium reasoning it’s a wake-up telephone aliases thing for illustration that. I deliberation it is conscionable nan reality of football. We cognize we tin beryllium amended and that’s wherever it’s a bully thing. We cognize that is thing that we tin power and we person to put right.’

Wiegman’s broadside person been struggling against mid-level opponents that beryllium backmost and take sides successful a debased artifact for nan past twelvemonth and they do not look to person recovered a semipermanent solution.

A number of teams classed betwixt 50 and 10th successful nan world person majorly improved successful nan past 2 years. The progression of countries for illustration Morocco and Jamaica astatine nan disbursal of Germany and Brazil astatine nan World Cup was a awesome illustration of this.

They are now amended astatine defending and person nan players to origin problems connected nan break. This shows of nan improvement of nan women’s crippled and this is simply a bully thing.

It's difficult to judge that this England squad were connected nan cusp of winning nan World Cup successful August

It intends nan bigger countries person to evolve. England were a punishment shoot-out distant from suffering being eliminated successful nan past 16 aft struggling against a Nigeria squad who played connected nan counter-attack. If nan African squad had been much clinical, it could person been they who progressed to nan quarter-final.

The first crippled were England seemed incapable to lick nan problem of a low-block, counter-attacking team, was erstwhile they were held to a 0-0 tie by nan Czech Republic successful October 2022. Wiegman noted their struggles but they encountered nan aforesaid problem a period later successful a 2-2 tie pinch Norway.

This rumor has persisted, but a bigger problem is that England person besides been wasteful pinch nan opportunities they person created. The likes of Alessia Russo and Rachel Daly are snatching astatine chances they would person converted a twelvemonth ago. 

This is not to opportunity England are not, astatine times, still showing their strengths. Fran Kirby’s extremity against Belgium was a cleanable illustration of nan shot we person travel to expect. But they are struggling to do it consistently.

England person been wasteful successful beforehand of extremity and are known to struggle against a debased block

It is not conscionable successful onslaught wherever location are problems. England person conceded six goals successful 4 games successful nan Nations League and nan mostly person been from their ain individual errors.

All 3 of Belgium’s goals came from errors. Chloe Kelly gave a needless free-kick distant and past half of England’s wall grounded to jump. Georgia Stanway’s stray walk created nan 2nd and nan midfielder was past sloppy arsenic she handled nan shot successful nan punishment area for nan third. Both of nan Netherlands’ goals successful past months’ 2-1 conclusion came from England giving nan shot distant successful their ain half.

Teams are besides realising that England’s defence is location to beryllium sewage at. The absence of Leah Williamson alongside Millie Bright is proving crucial. England person not mislaid a crippled nether Wiegman erstwhile they person some started astatine centre back.

What has been a shape complete nan past 12 months is that England person recovered themselves pushed truthful precocious into nan oppositions half that, if they springiness nan shot away, their defence is near wholly exposed. 

England request not panic - but they must guarantee they amended importantly to get backmost connected track

The problem present is that England do not person nan gait successful defence to get back. Wiegman tried to counteract this by switching to a 3-5-2 astatine nan World Cup, but that strategy does not suit nan midfield and limits nan effect of Walsh.

In nan past 3 games, Wiegman reverted to 4-3-3, but England’s deficiency of gait successful defence has remained an issue.

This was exacerbated against Belgium erstwhile Alex Greenwood was forced disconnected pinch a caput injury. Jess Carter came connected to switch her, but she and Bright are almost excessively akin to play adjacent to each different successful a backmost four.

For nan clip being, this is simply a blip successful England’s form. But pinch 2 must-win games against nan Dutch and Scotland to travel successful December, they consequence falling into a rut if they suffer different defeat.

Earps and Wiegman whitethorn insist location is nary request to panic, but they some cognize performances request to beryllium better.

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