HomeEuro 2024EnglandChris Waddle: England's Penalty Mastery

Chris Waddle: England’s Penalty Mastery

England’s Penalty Triumph: Insights from Chris Waddle

England’s journey to the semi-final was a nail-biting affair, marked by a tense match against Switzerland that culminated in a penalty shootout. Former England star Chris Waddle shared his thoughts on the game in an interview with Prime Casino, offering a blend of tactical insights and personal reflections.

A Tense Encounter

“I knew it was going to be a tight game,” Waddle began, acknowledging Switzerland’s reputation for being well-organised with experienced players. The match, as he predicted, was not a classic but a tactical duel, with both teams respecting each other’s capabilities. “I think we got exactly what we expected; a cagey game from two teams that showed a lot of respect to each other. The stats bore that out: three decent chances each.”

Waddle highlighted the balance of the game, noting that both teams had moments where they could have claimed victory. However, the match was destined to be decided by penalties, a scenario Waddle knows all too well from his own playing days. “When it goes to the dreaded penalties, which is something I’ve obviously suffered myself wearing an England shirt, it turns into a battle of technical superiority and confidence, and I did feel like we would have the edge on that front and so it proved.”

Penalty Drama and Execution

England’s penalty performance was exemplary, and Waddle was quick to praise the players’ composure under pressure. “Our penalties were absolutely superb. No hassle, nice and composed.” He expressed surprise at Switzerland’s choice of Akanji to take the first penalty, hinting at the psychological complexity behind penalty selections.

Photo IMAGO

Reflecting on his own experiences, Waddle said, “Whenever it’s England and penalties, I can’t help but hide behind the sofa (laughs). Obviously, I had my own experience with missing a penalty for England in a massive game, so I know what the players are going through when they make the walk from the halfway line and take a kick.” This historical anxiety seems to be waning with the current squad, which he credits to better preparation and confidence.

Tactical Mastery

Waddle also praised Gareth Southgate’s tactical decisions, particularly the use of a three-at-the-back formation. “I thought the system was good. Playing with three at the back and wing backs is a system that suits the players that we have. I think the squad that Gareth has assembled is a perfect match for this formation, particularly with the risk-averse style that we play.”

He noted that the defence was solid, dealing effectively with Swiss advances, and singled out Bukayo Saka for his stellar performance in the wing-back role. “I like Saka in the wing back role. His performance there was his best in the tournament, and he looked more comfortable playing in that role than he does as an out-and-out winger for England.”

Photo: IMAGO

Learning from the Past

Waddle drew parallels between Southgate’s current strategies and those of Terry Venables, under whom he played. “Against Switzerland, Gareth played three at the back and I think he was channelling his inner Terry Venables with that decision.” He reminisced about Euro 96, where matching the opponent’s formation was a tactic that paid dividends. “Southgate was in the England team that was managed by Terry when we beat Holland at Euro 96. We absolutely battered them, and a big part of that was winning the individual duels by matching them up.”

Looking Ahead

As England prepares for their next challenge, Waddle believes the team is well-equipped to handle high-pressure situations. “This group of players seem better prepared than we did at the 1990 World Cup. We never practised kicks in those days.” He is optimistic about England’s chances against Holland, should another shootout arise, citing the players’ technical superiority and newfound confidence.

Chris Waddle’s insights underscore the blend of tactical acumen and psychological resilience that has brought England to the semi-finals. As the nation holds its breath for the next match, the lessons of past and present continue to shape the journey.

More News