England show that they have all of the attacking tools, do they have the defensive ones to match?
Updated: Jul 17, 2022
Switzerland 0-4 England.
Playing a team were beaten 7-0 by Germany the last time they played, could've been a deceivingly difficult task for England. Switzerland have some very good players (Bachmann, Crnogorčević, Walti etc) and were always going to try to keep things very tight out of possession.
Sarina Wiegman went a bit rogue with the starting 11. This was likely due to Lucy Bronze being unwell, creating an opportunity to have a final pre-tournament explore of her options.
Williamson was at centre back (where she was very good) with Greenwood playing left back for the first time in a very long time for club or country- suppose it was good to dust the cobwebs off, in case she is needed there in the Euros. Alessia Russo (also very good), who made a good impact against the Netherlands, also got a start.
England started well, pressing very high, as they would've liked. What they wouldn't have liked was the squandering of three very good chances in the first 10 minutes.
England then went a bit flat. The high pressing stopped and Switzerland got a foothold, with Bachmann in particular starting to pop up in good areas and cause some problems. Problems which England didn't exactly deal with effectively all of the time.
Williamson was finding some good passes for England and, from centre half, was England best player in the build up during the first half. Russo was often receiving Williamson's passes through the lines and was getting herself about quite effectively
There was a bit of action with half an hour gone. Crnogorčević cleared a header from Daly off the line and about 5 minutes later was tantalisingly close to scoring a tap in on the stretch, from a great ball in from Bachmann.
England definitely weren't as lacklustre as they were in the first half against the Netherlands, everything seemed under control enough, but they weren't exactly setting the world alight.
Englands two best players in the first half, Williamson and Russo, as well as Rachel Daly, had big parts to play in the first goal on 56 minutes. Williamson found Daly wide on the right who sent a rather unorthodox, looping cross into a good area in the box, Russo judged the flight of the ball well and headed it back across the goal, into the bottom corner.
It was nothing less than Russo deserved, judging by her performance in this game (and her impact against the Netherlands), you'd think she will certainly have an important part to play in the Euros.
There is no doubt that having five substitutions to make in the Euros is going to be of huge benefit to England. Wiegman made 4 at the hour mark of this game. Kelly, England, Toone and Carter all on for, Mead, Russo, Kirby and Greenwood. As you might expect reading those names, there was not a drop in quality.
If anyone was in doubt about Chloe Kelly's inclusion in the Euros squad, she proved why she should be there in the following half an hour, as well as show us what we've been missing out on for a year.
First, Kelly gave Messi a run for his money on the left hand side, then crossed to Hemp who (of course) attempted a half bicycle kick, which was spectacularly cleared off the line.
In the aftermath, England were awarded a dubious penalty for a very inadvertent handball, maybe the universe, and the referee, felt it was unjust that Hemp's effort didn't go in. The less said about England and penalties going into a major tournament the better, but Stanway scored convincingly to make it 2-0 to England.
Stanway turned provider 2 minutes later to Beth England who headed in a third. It would've been an easy save for Friedli, but Chloe Kelly was stood right in front of her and dummied it on the line, leaving the goalkeeper with no chance.
Kelly was involved again in the dying second to cross to Jill Scott, who headed in a fourth.
And that was that. Three warm up games. Three wins. One goal conceded.
So then, the Euros...
Even for the most cautious of England fans, its almost impossible to say that England aren't in a good position. The attack, with those starting as well as those coming off the bench, has more than enough to cause any team problems.
Despite only conceding one goal, England did have to work through some lulls and difficult moments in the games, which is very useful.
Wiegman said after the game that England need to "play patient". All but one of England's goals in their three warm up games, came in the second half. Yet all of the score lines were convincing.
Perhaps England don't have to set the world alight in the first half. There seems to be a confidence that, with the abundance of quality attacking players they have, they will get there eventually.
The Question Marks:
It is important to look beyond the score-lines. Wiegman keeps referring to things which still need to improve. Having watched the three games, you'd imagine the things she is referring to are defending and being more clinical.
England were more clinical in each game, however they did ride their luck defensively at times, particularly against the Netherlands and a bit against Switzerland in the first half. It remains to be seen whether defending will be an issue for England in the tournament, as that is the area that looks a bit nervy.
There is also still questions around where Leah Williamson is best to play. It's likely that she will feature both at centre back and centre midfield, because she is a very good centre half, but England don't really have a natural number 8, (they would do if Jordan Nobbs was fit *sigh*), Stanway is probably the closest they've got. Although the adaptability could very much be a strength.
This is it then. How England react to the home tournament pressure, will begin to be revealed on Wednesday night in front of a sold out Old Trafford.
England are unbeaten in 14 games under Wiegman, will they remain unbeaten for another 6? In all honestly, any of the other 15 teams could have something to say about that. Who knows what's going to happen over the next month.