Glenn Hoddle: England's win over Croatia was just right

England's Kalvin Phillips competes with Croatia's Marcelo Brozovic
Kalvin Phillips was excellent for England against Croatia

Betfair Ambassador Glenn Hoddle was impressed by England's win against Croatia and is confident of beating Scotland. The former-England manager also discusses the other Euro 2020 talking points...

"England will start the same as they did against Croatia, go for the throat for the first 20 minutes, try to get a goal and settle down and play. I’m going 2-1 to England."

Southgate will be delighted with perfect start

At a tournament, you've got to win your first game. Even if you don't play well, you've got to win it because it just settles everything down. In the sense, it was a perfect performance from England as they took three points against Croatia.

The first 20 minutes we came out of the traps so quickly and looked a really good, positive, quick side. We pressed them and looked like we were going to score. And when we didn't score, we didn't panic, we just kept control of the game. We were patient and, when the chance came in the second-half, Raheem Sterling took it.

It was exactly as Gareth Southgate would have planned it. You don't always want to start with a bang. I've seen too many teams start tournaments well over the years then peter out because they can't sustain it.

Gareth got the big calls right

GH: I didn't expect to see Kieran Trippier playing at left-back. Gareth must have had his reasons. I was trying to work it out, it might have been due to set plays. It's a tough one just to pick someone on set plays, when you have Phil Foden and Mason Mount, who are decent on set plays as well. So I was trying to work out why Gareth favoured a right-footer playing at left-back.

After the season Ben Chilwell has had, and Luke Shaw, I was a little bit worried at the beginning. But Trippier had a decent game, he did his job, defended well and didn't get exploited down that side so there was a nice balance. There were some big calls but Gareth got them right.

Raheem Sterling -1280.jpg

Sterling's was a funny performance. He was getting in some wonderful positions but his end product was frustrating. He got a really good free-kick on the edge of the box, got in a couple of times but didn't pull the trigger right.

It was similar to the way Sterling has performed for Man City this season. In the Champions League final Sterling got in a couple times and didn't produce. Then suddenly he made the one run, Kalvin Phillips played a beautifully-weighted pass and Sterling scored. I think it was one of those games where the goal changed the performance immensely.

Goal will do wonders for Sterling's confidence

GH: The key thing for Raheem now is to continue to get into those positions. He got in behind a couple of times. He gets in some wonderful positions, but at times his confidence wasn't there. That goal will change his mindset and make it completely different. What he's got to do is keep getting in those positions.

There's enough creation in this team if he makes those runs like for the goal and for the first half when he got in behind a couple of times, he'll have the confidence now to feel like he's going to put another ball in the back of the net. That's what all strikers need, that little bit of confidence. That little bit of belief that I'm going to go on a run now. I think that's happened to him because of the goal. I'm expecting more goals from Raheem if he gets in those positions.

Phillips was excellent in midfield

I picked my team and I put Phillips in midfield with Declan Rice. I think the slight difference was Gareth allowed him to go in front of Rice and Rice really did sit. I thought they might alternate it a bit, one would sit and one might join the attack but Gareth said: "No, Rice you're going to sit and respect Croatia."

Croatia weren't going to break quickly on us and counter, they don't have the legs to do that. But Gareth sat Rice in there and allowed Phillips to just play a little bit more like a number eight in many ways with Mason Mount. I thought Phillips was excellent. I always thought the boy could play deep and hit passes, he's got a real range of passing.

Phillips' pass to Sterling was perfect. You can always tell a good weight of pass when a player doesn't have to take a touch, it's just rolled in there and he can hit it first time and that's what Phillips did for Sterling.

The bigger Premier League clubs will be looking at Phillips given what he's done at Leeds. I think he's been fabulous. It suits him to sit deep, he drops to make a three sometimes in possession when the centre-backs split so you can do that with him as well. But he's got Rice in there with England.

If we go deep into a tournament and play Portugal, France or Germany for instance, I can see Phillips playing a bit deeper with Rice and protecting the back three or back four. Gareth got it spot on and gave him more freedom and allowed him to go and play, and Phillips did it to a tee.

Talented squad will all play their part

The team won't stay same all the way through the tournament and the importance of using your squad is paramount.

We have players who can change the match from the bench. Jack Grealish probably would've come on against Croatia if it stayed 0-0 but other players were needed to see the game out. This is where it's quite exciting for England.

1280 Jack Grealish England.jpg

In defence Tyrone Mings came in and did a good job. There was a bit of pressure on him. And it was who was going to play with Stones because Maguire was out and he did a really good, solid job. Nothing sensational, but you don't need that from your centre-back. You just need a good solid defensive performance and that's what he gave England and that will give him confidence for the next game as well.

England can compete with the best

If they're going to win Euro 2020, England will face much bigger tests and they will need to be able to change things when they aren't playing well. I think France are the best team in the tournament, and I think there are teams like Germany and Portugal that are probably just slightly better than us overall in defence and attack.

Attacking wise, we're as good as anyone. But do I think can England give a 5/10 performance and win? You don't win every game playing how you want to play. And that is where the game management was good yesterday. But we'll need be resilient when the chips are down and when the game's tough and we find ourselves drawing or 1-0 down, with 10 minutes to go. That's going to be the key moment.

We can win it, we've got the capabilities of winning it, but it's about how well we deal with those moments when we're in a little bit of a crisis. That's what the good teams do. If we play fantastically against Scotland, we're going to beat them. But if it's an awkward game, and it's 0-0 for a long period, you need those moments where Grealish might come off the bench and change the game. We've got an attacking armory there to overcome any team. It's just whether we get through those difficult moments - because we will have them - and if we do that, we've got a really good chance.

I've experienced winning a first match at a tournament as a player and as a manager. The spirit of the camp the morning is amazing. It's buoyant, there's a bit of belief. Then you bring it down and you go again for the next game. It's a wonderful feeling waking up as a manager when you've just won a massive game in a tournament when all eyes in the country are on you. You can't wait for the next game.

You have to control that feeling and make sure players don't get carried away. Let the public and the media get carried away if they want, but the team has got to stay steadfast. That's where Gareth has been excellent as a manager. When the chips were down and there were bad performances, he doesn't get himself too low, he's disappointed but he's balanced, and if England get a great result then he's still balanced.

I had him as a player in the squad and he was dependable. He was a really good player and you could depend on him, he had that sense about him and he's got that as a manager and it's coming through the team.

England can take nothing for granted against Scotland

England have so much firepower going forward that they should beat Scotland on Friday. But it's not going to be an easy game because Scotland have got some very good players. There's two, three, maybe four players that would get into the England squad, that's how strong they are.

Not having 80,000 at Wembley, and a lot of the Tartan Army being there, I think Scotland will be desperate to get a result in front of their fans. They play emotionally and they'll come out and give everything.

England will prepare with confidence behind them because they've got the win, while Scotla dneed to pick themselves up after their defeat to Czech Republic. I think England will start the same as they did against Croatia, go for the throat for the first 20 minutes, try to get a goal and settle down and play. I'm going 2-1 to England.

I don't think he'll change that much. I don't think Maguire will be ready to come in, so I think Mings will play again and he'll keep that back four together. The only change might be he'll want a left-footer so he might put Chilwell or Shaw in. If Gareth makes any chance it will be for tactical reasons, not because of anyone's performance.

Rice and Phillips would be 100% certain to play. He'll look at the training and think: "If I play Grealish instead of Sterling in the front, or play Foden over here, what would happen?" That's where he might just look at it and make a chance based on who looks sharp in training. He's in a lovely position.

Harry Kane England Golden Boot.jpg

Harry Kane didn't affect the game in any way against Croatia and that's a good sign for Gareth - that England can win when their number one striker isn't firing on all cylinders. Kane will get better, guaranteed.

England fans right to celebrate their team's history

It's wonderful to see fans wearing England shirts from 1990, '96 shirts and '98. I remember as a player looking at shirts from '66 and feeling the history of our team. I've believe that, if we win a tournament we'll win another one. It's a bit like London busses, you're waiting and waiting and then two or three come along. Spain and France have done it so let's hope it's the summer of '21 that we can do it.

The Euros are tough tournament but you're not coming up against Brazil or Argentina.

My bet on Italy looks shrewd

I had a little punt on Italy getting to the semis and the final and, after watching them beat Turkey, I think they're going to go a long way. They didn't have their strongest team out against Turkey who were disappointing.

But it's too early to really state who's going to do this and that. It's about winning when you're not playing well. If you lose in the group stage you might get away with it. The tournament really ignites in the knockout round and that's where you really need that bit of belief that you'll get a bit of good fortune.

Lukaku and Mbappe to challenge for Golden Boot

With the creativity in their ranks, Belgium are always going to create a lot chances. Romelu Lukaku has had a wonderful season in Italy, he feels confident and he's off the mark. A bit like Raheem Sterling, he can't wait for his next chance because he knows he's going to put it in the back of the net.

Romelu Lukaku Belgium celebrate.jpg

Belgium are going to have a good run. To win the tournament you're going to need a striker who scores five plus goals goals. That's what history tells us. There's a few out there who could do it. Kane could come good and do that. Kylian Mbappe too. You can never count out Cristiano Ronaldo with Portugal.

Timo Werner surprise us and go on a scoring streak if he gets enough time on the pitch. You cannot rule out the Germans. It's an exciting tournament that's just going to get better and better.

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