Gordon makes his case, Watkins fails to take chance as left-back concerns continue – what we learned from England vs Brazil


England’s defeat to Brazil has left Gareth Southgate with just as many questions as answers regarding his team.

The Wembley showdown was seen as a huge acid test ahead of Euro 2024, with Southgate expected to learn lots about how his squad are shaping up for the tournament.

Southgate has plenty to think about following England's defeat to Brazil


Southgate has plenty to think about following England’s defeat to BrazilCredit: Getty

However a 1-0 defeat and a mediocre display means that the head coach will need more convincing when it comes to certain players.

High-profile injuries to stars such as Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Luke Shaw, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kyle Walker – who hobbled off at Wembley – meant that several fringe stars were given the chance to shine.

So how did they fare? talkSPORT.com takes a look…

A night for the debutants

Making your senior England debut is a special moment, but doing so against Brazil is the dream.

Anthony Gordon was given the chance to shine from the start after being named on the left wing, with the Newcastle forward impressing with his tireless work rate and willingness to get at Danilo and put the ball into the box.

Speaking after the game, he said: “Tonight was the best day of my life.

“I envisioned it a bit different with a win and a goal. I thought we were the better team, but we lacked that cutting edge that they had at the end.

“This is my long-term dream I have had. To achieve it means everything to me.”

Gordon certainly made the most of his opportunity to start for England


Gordon certainly made the most of his opportunity to start for England
Kobbie Mainoo was also handed his senior England debut at the age of 18


Kobbie Mainoo was also handed his senior England debut at the age of 18Credit: Getty

Based on his performance, Gordon will certainly get another chance to shine, as will Ezri Konsa and Kobbie Mainoo.

Konsa replaced the injured Walker in the first half and looked solid at right-back, while Mainoo came on with 15 minutes left with the 18-year-old given the ideal introduction to life with the Three Lions.

All three will be hoping for more minutes against Belgium and with the Euros coming up, it’s all to play for with spots in England’s squad very much up for grabs.

Watkins fails to take chance in Kane absence

Harry Kane is Mr England, but his ankle injury means that his back-ups are getting a rare opportunity to show what they can do.

Unfortunately for Ollie Watkins, that opportunity wasn’t capitalised on at at the Home of Football with a largely anonymous display.

With 22 goals and 10 assists for Aston Villa this term, the 28-year-old was hoping to cause heaps of problems for Brazil, but in truth, he offered very little against one of the world’s best nations.

Kane will return to Germany for treatment in the coming days, meaning that Watkins will have more time to prove his worth to Southgate.

But after that performance and with Ivan Toney patiently waiting for his second cap, it really feels like an opportunity wasted for the prolific Villa man.

Watkins struggled to make any sort of notable impact against Brazil


Watkins struggled to make any sort of notable impact against BrazilCredit: Getty

Maguire shows why Ben White is needed

Harry Maguire is no stranger to criticism for club and country, but his performances were under the spotlight following Ben White’s exclusion from the squad.

White opted to make himself unavailable for the Three Lions with suggestions that a fallout with assistant coach Steve Holland is the reason for his stance.

While Southgate refutes that suggestion, the 1-0 defeat to Brazil certainly highlighted how important the Arsenal star could be to this England side.

A centre-back by trade, White has been one of Arsenal’s top performers this term at right-back – an area that England are looking for cover in due to injuries to Walker, Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold at present.

Maguire was given the runaround by Vinicius Jr and his Brazil teammates and maybe, such a frail all-round defensive display could tempt Southgate to try once more to bring White back into the England fold.

Tough treatment of Foden and Bellingham

While England drew a blank, it was Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden who looked most likely to make something happen.

The talented twosome threatened to cause some serious issues for Brazil in the early stages of the game, but the South Americans clearly had a plan to stop them in their tracks – bring them down by any means necessary.

Bellingham was continually hacked down by Brazil - much to his frustration


Bellingham was continually hacked down by Brazil – much to his frustrationCredit: Getty

Is it frustrating to see your best players hacked down? Definitely. Is it something that they must get used to? Absolutely.

Foden and Bellingham have the ability to pose problems for any side in world football and while both men voiced their frustration at Wembley, they will need to adapt to finishing matches with cuts, bumps and bruises due to their level of stardom.

If they can keep their frustration under wraps and focus on their game, the pair could have a huge say in England’s hopes of going all the way at the Euros this summer.

Left-back remains a huge issue

England’s half-fit squad was a valid excuse for their performance against Brazil, but one position will have left Gareth Southgate feeling concerned.

Ben Chilwell was tasked with playing left-back at Wembley, but endured a difficult night with Barcelona star Raphinha causing all sorts of problems.

For Chilwell, it’s been a difficult season as he struggles to find his form and fitness after a number of injury problems.

Those struggles will be a real worry for Southgate who needs a left-back that is at the top of his game going into the Euros.

Luke Shaw is the usual first-choice pick at left-back, but his own injury problems mean that options are limited.

Chilwell endured a difficult night against Brazil


Chilwell endured a difficult night against BrazilCredit: Getty

Joe Gomez, who came on in the second half against Brazil, is another alternative, with the versatile defender thriving in the position for Liverpool this season.

Levi Colwill is another who can play there if needed, but he also missed out on selection for the latest England squad.

Time will be a healer for Chilwell as he looks to get himself up to speed.

But after his poor performance, Southgate will undoubtedly be left sweating over who should start in that role in England’s Euro 2024 opener against Serbia on June 16.



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