Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Rice says England can take positives from Iceland loss, defends Mainoo display

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 7 Jun 2024

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Declan Rice insists there are positives England can take from Friday’s friendly loss to Iceland, also saying the result should not affect Kobbie Mainoo’s chances of partnering him in midfield.

England were booed off as they lost their final Euro 2024 warm-up fixture 1-0 at Wembley Stadium, Jon Thorsteinsson’s 12th-minute strike proving decisive.

Gareth Southgate’s team managed just one shot on target as Iceland sat deep and invited pressure, with Harry Kane and Ivan Toney both fluffing their lines from promising positions.

It was their fewest shots on target in any game since a goalless draw with Scotland in the group stage at Euro 2020 (also one).

The Three Lions were also criticised for a lethargic performance on that occasion, only to reach the final of that tournament.

While Rice was disappointed with Friday’s result, he is sure England will learn from their mistakes in time for Group C fixtures against Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia.

“I think when we have that much of the ball and have a couple of really clear-cut chances, and obviously getting beat 1-0 at home just before a Euros isn’t ideal, but I am going to take the positives from it as well,” Rice told Channel 4.

“There were a lot of promising performances tonight. I felt on the pitch we played with a good tempo, always tried to play forward and be attacking and a threat.

“In the end it becomes a frustrating game because you are chasing your tail a little bit, you’re likely to get caught on the counterattack and that is where we have to be a little bit more savvy.

“Going into a tournament, it is not ideal that we lost, but also there are some good learning curves from tonight that we can build on as a team.”

This is the first time England have lost their final game prior to a major international tournament since Euro 1968, when they fell at the first hurdle in a four-team competition after going down to West Germany in their final warm-up fixture.

After losing 1-0 to Brazil in March, they have also failed to score in two of their last three matches at Wembley, as many blanks as they fired in their previous 31 outings at the national stadium.

Rice partnered Manchester United youngster Mainoo in the heart of midfield, and his team-mate came in for some criticism from supporters as the Three Lions were routinely caught out on the counterattack.

Rice, however, remains excited about Mainoo’s potential, saying: “We did it in March, and it was really positive.

“I can imagine tonight because we lost tonight some people are saying stuff, but that’s football these days. Kobbie’s young, I am young, our midfield options are young.

“We are going to learn every game and that is the beauty of football, that every game you play there is a chance to improve and get better.”

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