“I’m hurting” – Declan Rice reacts to Iceland defeat ahead of Euro 2024

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“I’m hurting” – Declan Rice reacts to Iceland defeat ahead of Euro 2024

Arsenal and England midfielder Declan Rice confesses that he is “hurting” after the Three Lions’ 1-0 friendly defeat to Iceland ahead of Euro 2024.

Arsenal and England midfielder Declan Rice admitted that he was “hurting” after the Three Lions’ Euro 2024 preparations concluded with a shameful 1-0 loss to Iceland at Wembley.

The £105m man was one of several big-hitters reintroduced to the starting lineup from Monday’s 3-0 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina, where Gareth Southgate‘s men took a while to get going.

Once again, the Three Lions found themselves up against a defence-heavy Iceland side, who lined up with every man behind the ball while England were on the attack, a move that worked to terrific effect.

The hosts’ central players could not pick the lock, and in the 12th minute, Iceland turned defence into attack in the blink of an eye, engineering a chance for Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson to beat Aaron Ramsdale at his near post for the game’s only goal.

England exhibited a distinct lack of high pressing for Iceland’s goal and throughout the 90, and the visitors – who were allowed to let a few shots off from the edge of the box and send several long balls over the top – could have easily won by more.

© Reuters

Rice ‘taking the positives’ before Euro 2024

England’s friendly humbling came eight years on from losing 2-1 to Iceland at Euro 2016 – regarded as one of the most humiliating results in their history – and Rice admitted that he and his teammates must be more “savvy” at this year’s championships.

“Inside I’m hurting, there’s work to be done. When you have that much of the ball, have a couple of clear-cut chances, and get beat 1-0 at home just before the Euros it isn’t ideal. But I’m going to take the positives,” englandfootball.com quotes Rice as saying.

“There were a lot of promising performances, we played with a good tempo, always tried to play forward. We have to be a little bit more savvy. It’s not ideal we lost but there are good learning curves we can build on as a team.

“We were a bit exposed with our press and not as compact as we usually are. Every game is another chance to get better and we’re going to be more than ready for Serbia.”

Winger Anthony Gordon – who was one of England’s chief threats in the first half – shared Rice’s sentiment as he cut a particularly upbeat figure after the game, adding: “It didn’t go the way we wanted but it’s a bigger picture.

England manager Gareth Southgate pictured on June 7, 2024© Reuters

“It’s great practice for us, that’s how teams are probably going to play against us so the more we play against teams like that, and learn how to break them down, the better for us going into the tournament.

“We lacked quality in the final third. We did well controlling the game and pinning them back but a bit of lack of quality in the final third let us down.”

How concerning was England’s performance against Iceland?

Registering just one shot on target against the world’s 72nd-ranked nation may be enough reason for some to press the panic button, especially as Southgate was able to field almost all of his available big-hitters at Wembley.

The complexion of the tie could have been a whole lot different had Harry Kane not missed a sitter in the first half, but England’s midfield was sometimes non-existent, and without Harry Maguire, they are bereft of a principal threat from set-pieces.

Of course, all of Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka and Trent Alexander-Arnold should be back in the XI for England’s Euro 2024 opener with Serbia on June 16, but it is hard to justify the Three Lions’ favourites label after a display like that.

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