England standings: Dier Three Lions’ best full-back but Sterling struggles to replicate Chelsea form
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DRAB ENGLAND looked flat at Milan Fashion Week – and were rightly and embarrassingly relegated from the Nations League.
As a collective group, Gareth Southgate’s men have again failed to do enough to create chances and have now gone five games without scoring from open play.
There was not the same defensive chaos as in the humiliating home defeat to Hungary, despite a nervous start.
But an error from Kyle Walker was enough to allow man of the match Giacomo Raspadori to grab the only goal.
Eric Dier’s return and Jude Bellingham’s continued progress were the only significant positives from another dismal night in this competition.
Most worryingly, England’s starting XI for their World Cup opener against Iran in less than two months may not be very different from this one.
Performance will have to be.
NICK POPE – 7
He was given a rare chance to show his mettle against top opposition in the absence of the injured Jordan Pickford.
Made a good early save from Scamacca, then didn’t have much to do until second-half saves from Raspadori and Gabbiadini.
Questions remain about his distribution, particularly under medium-term pressure.
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KYLE WALKER – 5
The former United Friends Russia 2018 World Cup statesman three defenders tried to calm things down after the nervous start.
He had some hairy moments, not only through his own fault, but mostly sound on and off the ball.
Until he let Raspadori get on the wrong side of him and then cut inside to score.
ERIC DIER – 7
He made a well-deserved, some would say belated return, after last appearing in England in November 2020.
We did the unglamorous job of, you know, defense, with a minimum of frills and fuss.
Big block on Bryan Cristante shot in first inning, hit ball from same fielder in second.
HARRY MAGUIRE – 5
All over the initial shop and overwhelmed by Scamacca for the head saved by Pope.
He took a deep breath and backed up as he tripped them on the other end from his blows.
Put an important leg on dangerman Raspadori, something Walker failed to score.
REECE JAMES – 6
He did his defensive job pretty well after everyone got off to a good start.
He was more likely to show the other side of his game than Saka but could not replicate the quality of his deliveries at Chelsea.
He blasted a second-half free-kick over the bar from a decent position after a foul on Sterling.
JUDE BELLINGHAM – 7
He did his best to take a bad game and make it better, covering a huge amount of ground.
It’s so refreshing to see an England midfielder ready to give in and go and he was England’s biggest threat after the break.
He sent a late header over the bar, but because he will start against Iran in Qatar, the only question is whether in midfield two or three.
DECLAN RIZ – 6
Full of energy and commitment as usual, but not much to show for it.
He spent part of the first half fighting the fires as play largely bypassed England’s midfield.
A nail-biter for the World Cup, the debate continues on who to put around him to get the most out of the West Ham captain and squad.
BUKYO SAKA – 5
Many of the Italian attacks in the first half fell to their right and it must be quite an adjustment between the left wing and the right wing.
He had little chance to show what he could offer in the future as his team were often on the back foot.
But things didn’t improve before it was removed, and it would be a surprise to see this tried again.
PHIL FODEN – 6
The closest England came to having something close to an attacking threat in the first half.
He started diving deep early for the ball as the team struggled for good possession.
Not as effective after the break, but rightly annoyed that Kane didn’t spot it and pass it once.
HARRY KANE – 5
Until he forced a double save from Donnarumma in the last 15 minutes, he never looked like getting close to Wayne Rooney’s England record.
Guilty of wasting open halves, including a shot over the bar in the first half and had to play Foden in the second.
Worse in a head-to-head clash with Rafael Toloi, thankfully no lingering effects
RAHEEM STERLING – 5
He had a disappointing game by the high standards he sets for himself.
Unable to match his former Manchester City teammate’s zip down the other flank.
He tempted Bonucci into a foul on the edge of the box, but that was his only notable contribution.
Grealish (for Saka, 72′) – 5
Brought in as part of a tactical change to 4-2-3-1 but that didn’t help much and struggled to make an impact.
Shaw (for Walker, 72) – 6
Like Maguire, confident despite a lack of club minutes due to a lack of alternatives. At least sent to a dangerous cross.
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