England Latest Tips: Heart's conflict with head offers up a 11/2 shot ahead of quarter-final

Gareth Southgate, England
From despair to where?

Ste Tudor tries to make sense of a last 16 clash that had a moribund England saved by late individual genius.

Football Only Bettor Podcast - Listen to Quarter Final tips here!

England v Switzerland SuperBoost

You can now back Granit Xhaka to commit 1 or more fouls v England at 1/12.00 - Superboosted up from 1/41.25!

The former Arsenal man has comitted six in four games so far at Euro 2024, and is no stranger to the referee as we know from his time in the Premier League.

England (60) have won the most fouls of any side at Euro 2024 (15 per game on average), with both Jude Bellingham (9) and Harry Kane (8) sitting in the top 10 of the most fouls won chart. Indeed, only three players (all 10) have managed more than Bellingham.

England have been predictable in possession in Germany and often rendered flummoxed at the back by a well-organised press. There has been scant structure and no balance. When they haven't been passive they've been awful.

Yet, as a million spilt cuppas will testify, a moment saved them last night in Gelsenkirchen. A last-gasp act of salvation from one of their best players that, for the time being, papers over the cracks.

Defying all reasonable logic then, it means the quarter-finals now await this flawed and disjointed assemble and if ultimate Euro glory is still much further along a very bumpy road its faint whiff of cologne is carrying down the wind.

They couldn't, could they?

Heart vs head

Read those opening six lines again. Remind you of anyone?

The Three Lions under Gareth Southgate could - and should - have been inspired by Manchester City, the dominant force in England for the entirety of his tenure.

Instead they've become Manchester United.

Actually, that's not strictly fair, because even at their lowest ebbs post-Ferguson, United have always strived to be progressive, whereas for so much of their troubled summer to date England have compounded their failings with a paralysis of ambition.

Indeed, one of the most depressing aspects to last night's clash - until events took an unexpected and extremely welcomed turn - was that for the first time at the Euros England attempted to break the lines, but were unable to. Prior to that it was possible to blame an overly-cautious manager and players tethered by his instructions.

Not against Slovakia. At the Arena AufSchalke, some adventure was shown. Not a lot, but it was there. Only England were incapable of matching intent with execution.

In total, they lost possession 146 times before their dramatic late equalizer and when passes weren't misplaced they were fired to the feet of a recipient who was marked tightly, with his back to goal. Movement off the ball was notably in short supply.

kane slovakia.jpg
All of which meant that it took well over 500 passes and two-thirds of the possession against a side ranked lower than Panama for England to posit their first shot on target.

Naturally, what a shot on target it was. A wonder-strike no less. One for the ages. But if England have any serious hope of replicating their feat of three years ago and reaching a final they cannot do what United are often accused of, which is largely disappoint but find themselves saved by a moment of magic, courtesy of a star player.

The heart informs us that, for all of their shortcomings, Manchester United won the FA Cup last season despite being broken. The head reminds us of how impressive and cohesive Switzerland have been.

The Swiss incidentally have scored five of their seven so far before the break.

Don't make it bad

If the heart is in conflict with the head regarding England's chances from this point on, we are similarly divided on Jude Bellingham.

Our eyes tell us he was poor once again, anonymous for the most part, ineffective for the rest, until he transformed in the 95th minute into an acrobatic superhero.

Repeatedly whinging to team-mates when a pass went elsewhere was not a great look.

Yet the stats have a very different perspective.

The 21-year-old won 10 ground duels, a substantial number. He had the most touches inside the opposition box. He completed three dribbles and drew three fouls.

His heat map shows him here, there and everywhere, no longer standing on Harry Kane's toes.

And then of course, there was the goal, a study in excellence that will be talked about for a generation.

Euro 2024 may be a toil for Bellingham, after making excellence look so effortless across a peerless debut season in Madrid, but that was still his fourth goal in eight for his country since advancing into the number 10 role.

A possible solution

The following is not meant as a slight on Kieran Trippier, a player who is deserving of respect.

But persisting with a calf issue throughout the tournament, and being inordinately right-footed down the left flank, and all while being isolated out there, has made the Newcastle defender a problem player in a problem area for England.

It is not yet known if the 33-year-old will be fit for selection this weekend but if not then an enforced reshuffle last night - switching Bukayo Saka to left-back, then left wing-back until Ezri Konsa saw things out - might just have provided Southgate with a solution to his woes.

Moreover, it addresses a concern on the right too, with Saka undroppable but average in Germany. Cole Palmer meanwhile has made England look much better on both occasions he has come on.

Will Southgate be brave enough to make such a positional revision? It's been seriously discussed in-camp and perhaps a persuasive argument is that none of Switzerland's tournament goals have come down their right flank whereas all of their three conceded have.

Go on Gareth, go against type. Who knows where it might lead?

Kane is able

Harry Kane's performances in Germany have been discussed as widely as the forthcoming election. Last night's very much fell into the mixed bag category.

By and large, England's record goal-scorer looked off the pace, the game by-passing him save for a couple of neat link-ups in build-up. He did, however, visibly improve in the second half.

And then came the goal, the metric by which he will always rightly be judged on first and foremost.

From four attempts on target at Euro 2024, Kane has converted twice and such a ratio will see him challenge for the Golden Boot should England continue to ride good fortune and progress in the competition.

Presently, he is one behind a trio of leaders in this field, but two of them have subsequently exited with their teams.

It's an entirely plausible achievement at this juncture and at tempting odds to boot.

Now head to our Euro 2024 HUB for more content!

Recommended bets

New Customers can get £50 in free bets!

Available to new customers only. Place a £10 bet on the Betfair Sportsbook and you will receive £50 in free bets to use on Bet Builders and Accas! Opt-in here and T&cs apply.

Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.