Are England 'too tired to press'? Five key charts

After more than 36 hours of intense debate and analysis of what went wrong for England in their disappointing draw with Denmark on Thursday night, there is one Gareth Southgate comment that needs further fact-checking.

In interviews with the written UK media only released on Friday evening, the England manager suggested his players are not fit enough to press the opposition properly.

“We are not pressing well enough, with enough ­intensity,” Southgate said. “We have limitations in how we can do that with the physical condition. We can’t press as high up the pitch as we might have done in the ­qualifiers, for example."

Are England too tired to press properly? Did they play too much club football last season? Here are five charts and tables examining the case...

Has the England squad played too much club football?

Total club mins played per squad. .  2023-24 season data for all club competitions.
Total club mins played per squad. . 2023-24 season data for all club competitions.

This chart compares five of the European sides with the most players featuring in the biggest European leagues - and looks at the total minutes played by their entire squads in the 2023-24 season.

It includes all club competitions - leagues, cups and European competitions.

How do the starting XIs compare?

Starting XI club mins played. .  2023-24 season data in all club competitions.
Starting XI club mins played. . 2023-24 season data in all club competitions.

A full 38-game Premier League season comes to 3,420 minutes - using a basic figure of 90-minute games.

And this chart above shows that, for England's starting line-up against both Serbia and Denmark, their average club playing time last season was almost exactly that figure.

And as the chart below shows, 15 of the 26-man England squad played more than that 3,420 figure, with deep runs into domestic cups and European competitions in the lead-up to the Euros.

In a list of the 40 players with most club minutes played - across Europe's big five leagues, six England players feature - Ezri Konsa (6th); Ollie Watkins (10th); Declan Rice (14th); Phil Foden (15th); Kyle Walker (24th) and Conor Gallagher (34th).

Spain and France have three; while Germany have five and Portugal have five - but also have Ruben Neves (4,558 mins) and Cristiano Ronaldo (4,475 mins) who play in the Saudi Pro League.

England players total club mins. .  England's starting XI highlighted in blue.
England players total club mins. . England's starting XI highlighted in blue.

So what about England's pressing stats?

Introducing a relatively new measurement which shows how aggressive or disruptive a team is against the opposition's possession.

Data analysts Opta call it 'PPDA' and stands for 'opposition passes allowed per defensive action' - the higher the number, the less you’ve been able to interrupt their spells of play.

Still with us?

Here's an easy bit of context to explain.

In the Premier League last season, the best pressing team was Tottenham who had an average PPDA score of 8.8. Worst was Nottingham Forest with an average PPDA score of 17.7.

Spurs were praised throughout the season for the intensity of their pressing game.

So what about England?

Which teams are best at pressing?. .  Lower PPDA score = better at pressing.
Which teams are best at pressing?. . Lower PPDA score = better at pressing.

England captain Harry Kane admitted after the game that the team were "not sure how to get the pressure on and who’s supposed to be [pressing]".

Speaking on an extended England analysis section on BBC iPlayer, Match of the Day pundits Cesc Fabregas and Alan Shearer had their say.

"I think Harry doesn't have the legs anymore to press high," said Fabregas. "You can see the other ones - (Jude) Bellingham, (Bukayo) Saka, Rice - press really high, but one person not doing it can kill the function of the whole game."

Shearer added: "I don’t think there is a plan. There’s a complete lack of energy, I don’t know if anyone knows whether to come or to sit.

"They look confused to me as players as to when and how to go, and when they want to press the opposition.

"That, for me, comes from the manager. In the first two games and certainly the last game, it was far too easy for the opposition."

Worst pressing teams in Euro 2024. .  Stats up to date before 22nd June games.
Worst pressing teams in Euro 2024. . Stats up to date before 22nd June games.

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