5-Takeaways from England’s defeat to Belgium in Nations League

UEFA Nations League

England’s Nations League finals’ hopes were dented following the 2-0 defeat against Belgium. Goals from Youri Tielemans and Dries Mertens in the first half were enough for the Red Devils to subdue Gareth Southgate’s men. It was Three Lions’ second consecutive defeat in the Nations League and there were many things at fault for England throughout the game against Belgium.

Southgate needs to ditch back-three formation.

Southgate’s preference to a back-three formation hasn’t turned out well and Three Lions need to play more dominant football. Having players of great quality at his disposal – probably England’s golden generation – Southgate is still looking to go with the conservative approach.

Calvert-Lewin was badly missed

Harry Kane failed to make a big impact, and he often found himself in the deeper areas, leaving Belgium’s defence intact. Dominic Calvert-Lewin would have made the difference since he is good at pining the defenders and known for his killer instinct inside the box. The Everton striker has also been in excellent form this season and could have found himself at the end of creative passes from Jack Grealish.

Jordan Pickford needs an upgrade

Pickford, who has earned the reputation for making silly blemishes, was once again at fault against Belgium. Although he had nothing to do with Tieleman’s deflected strike, he must be doing well against Mertens’ free-kick. The Toffees goalkeeper continues to be the first-choice for Southgate and maybe it is time for a change in personnel – say Dean Henderson – between the sticks. 

Grealish is a class act

Jack Grealish showed once again why he is too good to be a benchwarmer. One of the positives of the defeat against Belgium was Grealish’s presence on the field. The English playmaker has been in imperious form with Aston Villa this season and Southgate should consider him as an important feature for next year’s Euros.

Belgium are a strong title contender for Nations League and Euros.

Robert Martinez’s side, who are currently ranked No.1, has been brilliant in Nations League, winning all of their games bar the one against England. Belgium comprises a stack of underrated players and equally super-star profiles, hence they are real favourites for next year’s Euros. The Red Devils might have ended up short in the FIFA World Cup 2018 after losing to eventual winners France in the semi-finals, but they can prove themselves a force to reckon with in Nations League and Euros.