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England’s passing network against Belgium

Last weekend England played against Belgium in the UEFA Nations League. In that match, England played better and deserved more despite their 2-0 loss. The following passing network will help us determine some patterns in their play and which players combined most passes between them.

We can see how Walker has a darker shade of blue, meaning he had the most accurate passes in the team. There were 37 passes between Walker and Dier which is the highest number of passes between any two players during the match. Just behind Walker is Rice, who completed 65 accurate passes compared to Walker’s 79. All the offensive players had below 30 passes except for Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish. In his first start for England Grealish had 52 passes and showed a strong performance building his case for the upcoming European Championship. Grealish’s 14 passes to Kane and Kane’s seven passes to Grealish is an encouraging sign. Aside from Grealish, Kane did not pass to anyone more than four times. Chilwell started the match at left wing-back, but was substituted in the first half because of a back injury. This is why Arsenal youngster Saka is visualised on this network instead.

 It is clear that Pickford starts attacks mostly by playing towards Dier or Walker who are their main options to build out the attack from the back. It is surprising that both Henderson and Mount haven’t contributed a lot when in possession, but Henderson would certainly have more passes if he wasn’t substituted at the half-time. 

Conclusion

We can conclude that England plays patiently from the back after seeing how many passes their centre-back trio attempted. Their wing-backs are highly involved in the attacks as well. Grealish’s involvement in the attack should be an encouraging sign for Southgate. He asks for the ball, moves well both on and off the ball and creates chances for his teammates. England missed a player of his qualities in their recent history and his first performances for the national team are promising.