England vs. Serbia: Match Analysis and Key Takeaways

England vs. Serbia

England got their Euro 2024 campaign off to a winning start with a narrow 1-0 victory over Serbia yesterday. While the result was positive, the performance left room for improvement, with a dominant first half giving way to a nervy second-half display. Here’s a closer look at the key talking points from the match.

A Bright Start and Bellingham’s Heroics

England began the match with a clear intent to impose themselves. Kyle Walker was a constant threat down the right flank, his pinpoint pass setting up Bukayo Saka for the assist. The young winger’s delivery found the head of Jude Bellingham, who rose majestically to power home the opening goal in just the 13th minute. Bellingham, already a star at Real Madrid, showcased his quality and leadership throughout the game, proving to be a crucial figure for England.

England vs. Serbia
England vs. Serbia

Defensive Concerns and Second-Half Jitters

Despite the early goal, England’s defense looked shaky at times. John Stones, returning from injury, lacked sharpness, while Kieran Trippier on the opposite flank struggled to contain Serbia’s attackers. The Serbians grew into the game as the half progressed, testing the England backline with increasing frequency.

The second half was a tense affair, with Serbia pushing for an equalizer. England’s midfield duo of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips did well to shield the defense, but there were moments where Serbia looked dangerous. Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made a couple of crucial saves to preserve England’s lead.

Standout Performers: Walker, Guehi, and Saka

Kyle Walker was arguably England’s best player on the day. His attacking prowess provided an outlet down the right, and his defensive solidity helped contain Serbia’s threats. Stepping into the shoes of the injured Harry Maguire, Marc Guehi had an impressive debut. The Chelsea defender remained composed throughout, dealing well with the physicality of Aleksandar Mitrovic. Bukayo Saka was another positive for England. His pace and creativity on the wing caused problems for the Serbian defense, and his assist for the goal was a moment of real quality.

Looking Ahead: Room for Improvement Despite the Win

While the three points are all that matters in the opening game, England’s performance will raise some questions for manager Gareth Southgate. The team will need to find a way to maintain their first-half intensity throughout matches and address the defensive vulnerabilities exposed in the second half.

The upcoming fixtures against Scotland and Croatia will be crucial for England’s qualification chances. They will need to build on the positives from the Serbia game but also learn from their mistakes if they are to have a successful Euro 2024 campaign.