Lessons learned from England's Euro 2016 pre-tournament friendlies

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So there we have it, the preparation is all done and complete. The next time we see Roy Hodgson's England side on the pitch will be against Russia in their first game at Euro 2016.

Three friendlies, three wins. Yes, the performances weren't entirely convincing, but the most important thing was that we came away with positive results, which we did.

Hodgson will have learned a lot about his team following the displays against Turkey, Australia and Portugal.


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Here are five lessons learned from England's performances in the friendlies, and what needs to happen at Euro 2016.

Eric Dier Must Start

While the Tottenham Hotspur star has been in great form this season, and performed reasonably well in the friendlies, it was clear that our current defence needs a shield in front of it.

Having been a centre-back, and our only natural defensive midfield option, Dier has to start for England as a protector and as an extra defender when needed.

It could be an oversight that Hodgson did not consider the likes of a Michael Carrick or a Gareth Barry or even a Mark Noble, players capable of filling that role if the 22-year-old is unavailable.

If he gets injured, any hopes of England going far go with him, he's that essential to the way they set up in both formations, and Hodgson has no natural replacement.

Attack Is Our Greatest Asset

There's no doubt where the Three Lions' strength lies and it's not with the band in the stands.

For the first time in what seems like an eternity, England have a wealth of attacking options that could put several nations in the European Championships to shame.

From the top two scorers in the Premier League in Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, to the nation's best ever goalscorer in Wayne Rooney.

They even have the prolific yet injury-prone Daniel Sturridge and the enigmatic youngster Marcus Rashford to call upon when needed, so they should not be afraid to utilise them when needed.

Utilise 4-3-3 and The Diamond

Even though we are a little confused as to which they will start with, and it seems like that is the case with the team themselves at times, both the 4-3-3 and the diamond formation will be important to England during the Euros.

The 4-3-3 is more natural to the players, as it was used throughout qualifying, and they seem a little more comfortable in that role.

The diamond is a bit like a car on Auto Trader, it looks fantastic on the site but in the flesh it can look a little broken. They certainly have the players to fill those roles and it also arguably puts our most exciting and in-form XI on the field, but they have to work out all the dents to really make it purr in the next few weeks.

Do Not Shackle The Tactics

In his ever not-too-risky style, Roy Hodgson does not like to over commit or risk the defensive shape of his team.

He's almost the equivalent of a managerial tortoise, and even though he said that the England team was "built to attack", he needs to make sure they do not shrink back into their shell too often or risk stifling their creativity.

In the friendly against Portugal, separating the strikers to track back really restricted England's play, their swift moves forward would be halted, as Rooney looked for the players that should be beyond him running back from their defensive duties.

It was incredibly silly, especially in a friendly, and those negative moves will be punished heavily by teams with a bigger right hook.

We Can Win Ugly

The major positive in a relatively tepid build-up is that in each of the three games, England won ugly.

That might sound like a strange statement to make, it's like saying we were watching paint dry, but at least it's a nice colour, but in tournament football you need to grind out the results.

Especially in the cagey games in the group stages, where teams are a little more tentative in the initial stages, the fact that we can just about come out with the three points is crucial.

It may not win us the whole thing, but in tight affairs we at least know that we have the ability to keep going until the final whistle to either grab a late goal or hold on to the lead we have.

How far can England go in Euro 2016? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!

Leicester City
Wayne Rooney
Manchester United
Tottenham Hotspur
England Football
Premier League
Daniel Sturridge

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