England boss Gareth Southgate reflects on formation change for the draw with Denmark

Tuesday 08 Sep 2020
Gareth Southgate and his assistant Steve Holland during the national anthems in Copenhagen

England boss Gareth Southgate saw his side held to a goal-less draw by Denmark in Copenhagen on Tuesday, as the Three Lions' UEFA Nations League campaign continued.

After Saturday's win over Iceland had given his team a winning start to the group, it was much tougher at Parken Stadium where they came up against a strong, resilient and equally dangerous Danish team.

With Southgate opting to try a new system, reverting to a formation last used at the World Cup in 2016, the manager believes there's plenty of positives to take from what he admits has been a difficult week for his squad.

“We’ve learned a lot. We’ve tried a new system which we will get better at," he said.

"Given everything we've had to deal with - ten pull outs for various reasons - we felt we wanted to start with stability.

“They’ve lost one match in 25 games, and we could have been higher with our attacking threat in the first half, but we were in control. 

“In the second half, we started to accelerate the game with some of the changes and putting Mason [Mount] into midfield made us more forward thinking.

"The back three today were very very solid. I thought Conor Coady was excellent and Eric Dier's had two good games for us.

Southgate says he was impressed by the performance of debutant Conor Coady in the game with Denmark

"We look very secure defensively which is a great platform to build on."

With regards to the reasoning for the new formation, Southgate believes the ability to switch will give his team a better opportunity to take on different opposition as the preparations for next summer's EURO 2020 Finals resumes.

England return to Wembley next month for three games, when they will take on Belgium and Denmark again in Nations League games as well as a friendly match with Wales, so that will give him more chance to assess his options.

“We’re looking at how we develop for higher quality opposition," he explained. "Against the lower nations, we’ve played the 4-3-3 and it's worked really well. 

“This was the best way to refresh the team but also try something new. We’ve had numerous injuries, players really short of minutes so we knew this was going to be incredibly difficult to piece this all together. 

"But I think the whole group have shown amazing resilience really.

“We’re in a position where we’re returning to Wembley with the group in our hands.”

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By Nicholas Veevers