England’s Midfield Shines in Crucial Moments – Bryan Robson

England’s Midfield Shines in Crucial Moments – Bryan Robson

This was more like the England midfield we wanted to see. They showed their bottle, good composure and ultimately, delivered when it mattered.

They had to be braver and more positive and with that they looked like the team we have been waiting for the past four weeks.

The interchanging between Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham and Kobbie Mainoo was excellent first half and it opened the Dutch up.

Foden looked the player we know and was running the show, brimming with confidence and finding the pockets easily.

What I liked was the sharpness of the one-twos and the clever dummy runs, taking turns to run in to the space they had left behind. It shifted the Dutch around and you could see they were uncomfortable.

The interchanging between Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham and Kobbie Mainoo was excellent first half and it opened the Dutch up

Foden looked the player we know and was running the show, brimming with confidence and finding the pockets easily

Foden looked the player we know and was running the show, brimming with confidence and finding the pockets easily

It’s hard to believe that Kobbie only made his first team debut in November but he has that astute football brain. He belies his age with his smart movements but even better was his intelligence to snuff out the Netherlands’ counter-attacks.

The Dutch definitely fancied their chances initially so they opened up and that allowed us to exploit those gaps and force the pressure for Harry Kane’s penalty. I don’t care what you say, that’s a foul anywhere else on the pitch so, soft or not, it was a penalty.

It was no surprise that Ronald Koeman sought to stifle us in the second half. He brought Tijjani Reinders, Jerry Schouten and Joey Veerman all closer together in that midfield and formed a tighter triangle that gave England problems.

As a midfielder, in situations like that, it’s important to use the wide players to get round the back and equally, your centre forward needs to stay around the box to keep that focal point. We struggled to get Foden on the ball and the change was inevitable from Gareth Southgate. We’ve criticised him but he saw what change was needed.

When Ollie Watkins came on you could see his movement and positioning gave Holland something different to think about. As Cole Palmer then moved to Bukayo Saka’s side it created an overload that forced Holland’s midfield to stretch, they committed five players to the area, and that opened up the gap for Watkins.

Spain will be tough. We may not be given a chance but we have seen before anyone can win a one-off game.

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