England can now compete with best at Euro 2020 and Gareth Southgate got Croatia big calls right, says Glenn Hoddle

GARETH SOUTHGATE nailed his tactics for England's crunch game against Croatia with the Three Lions now ready to compete with the best at Euro 2020, according to Glenn Hoddle.

England won their first-ever European Championship opener with a 1-0 victory on Sunday thanks to Raheem Sterling's second-half strike.

Southgate raised eyebrows with his team selection – including playing Kieran Trippier at left-back and leaving out red-hot Jack Grealish.

But former England chief Hoddle reckons the boss got it spot on, with his side pacing themselves perfectly ahead of a deep run at the Euros.

Hoddle told Betfair: "At a tournament, you've got to win your first game.

"Even if you don't play well, you've got to win it because it just settles everything down.

"It was a perfect performance from England as they took three points against Croatia.

"The first 20 minutes we came out of the traps so quickly and looked a really good, positive, quick side.

"We pressed them and looked like we were going to score. And when we didn't score, we didn't panic, we just kept control of the game.

"We were patient and, when the chance came in the second-half, Raheem Sterling took it.


"It was exactly as Gareth Southgate would have planned it. You don't always want to start with a bang.

"I've seen too many teams start tournaments well over the years then peter out because they can't sustain it."

Hoddle continued by saying he – like much of the nation – was left baffled by some of the personnel choices from Southgate.

But Hoddle claimed the Three Lions boss got it spot on in hindsight, saying: "I didn't expect to see Kieran Trippier playing at left-back.

"Gareth must have had his reasons. I was trying to work it out, it might have been due to set plays.

"It's a tough one just to pick someone on set plays, when you have Phil Foden and Mason Mount, who are decent on set plays as well.

"So I was trying to work out why Gareth favoured a right-footer playing at left-back.

"After the season Ben Chilwell has had, and Luke Shaw, I was a little bit worried at the beginning.

"But Trippier had a decent game, he did his job, defended well and didn't get exploited down that side so there was a nice balance.

"There were some big calls but Gareth got them right."

Hoddle went on to say Sterling, another player whose selection – over in-form Grealish – raised eyebrows showed just how important he will be this summer if he can find his shooting boots.

The ex-England boss continued: "Sterling's was a funny performance.

"He was getting in some wonderful positions but his end product was frustrating.

"He got a really good free-kick on the edge of the box, got in a couple of times but didn't pull the trigger right.

"It was similar to the way Sterling has performed for Man City this season.

"In the Champions League final Sterling got in a couple times and didn't produce.

"Then suddenly he made the one run, Kalvin Phillips played a beautifully-weighted pass and Sterling scored.

"I think it was one of those games where the goal changed the performance immensely."

Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds

    Source: Read Full Article