Friendlies become boring?

The Three Lions second string struggled to impress against Switzerland

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England beat Switzerland but show the shortcomings of international friendlies

By Joe Harker

The opening stages of England's friendly against Switzerland would have had detractors of playing out from the back rubbing their hands with glee. Both teams made mistakes that could have lead to goals by passing out lazily, leading to an open and exciting game where the teams pressed each other and tried to force mistakes.

Unfortunately for everyone besides the goalkeepers, the match soon settled down into a more sedate pace typical of international friendlies. If the introduction of the Nations League was supposed to give formerly meaningless games purpose then this was one of those meaningless games where neither side is really up for it.

England manager Gareth Southgate took the opportunity to rest key players such as Harry Kane, making nine changes in total as only Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire kept their starting spots from the Nations League defeat to Spain.

On the subject of the Nations League, England's group members Spain and Croatia faced each other in a 6-0 victory for the Spanish. Fun fact: Had Spain won their World Cup penalty shoot out against Russia they would have faced Croatia and then England on the way to the final.

The brightest spark for England was wing back Danny Rose, who had a point to prove for club and country. As has become common from Southgate's England side, wing backs provided much of the creativity and Rose impressed throughout the game. The Spurs defender was taken off near the end of the match to give Ben Chilwell of Leicester City his senior debut in front of a familiar crowd.

The only goal of the game came from a set piece as has become customary from England under Southgate. Rose's initial delivery from the corner was overhit but picked up by Kyle Walker, who put the ball back into the box and onto the waiting foot of Rashford, volleying home to put the Three Lions in the lead and restore some noise to the King Power Stadium.

Some of England's issues from the World Cup continued as the Three Lions struggled to create clear chances from open play. As the game settled down after the frenetic early stages there were occasions where an impatient crowd exhorted England players to stop working the ball around and shoot.

Although not the most scintillating of games, England's win against Switzerland was a good chance for Southgate to play his second string and see how they coped with his system. It was also an opportunity to see the Three Lions play outside Wembley, with the crowd inside the King Power Stadium providing an excellent atmosphere and cheering on Leicester regulars Chilwell and Harry Maguire. It will be a concern for the manager that Switzerland was the better side for much of the game.

The most popular chant of the night was "Southgate You're The One" and the popular manager continues to have the backing of the fans. Even if he has lost the iconic waistcoat this continues to be an England team that has won over hearts and minds.

More importantly, the game was a chance to mark 25 years of stellar work by Kick It Out. The first 25 seconds of the TV broadcast were shown in black and white to remind viewers how far football has come.

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