Thursday 21 June 2018, 05:22

Dier: England need a plan B, C, D, E and F

  • ​Eric Dier explains why Gareth Southgate needs six plans

  • The 24-year-old urges England not to underestimate Panama

  • Dier wants to enjoy more than just football in Russia

By Laure James with England

Eric Dier has vowed England will not underestimate Panama as they continue their pursuit of the FIFA World Cup™ knockout stage, and believes the team have the versatility to adapt to different styles of opposition. Gareth Southgate’s favoured 3-5-2 formation has worked, with the Three Lions unbeaten in their last 15 matches, yet the Tottenham Hotspur midfieder says they have to be flexible on the big stage.

“In football you need a plan B, C, D, E and F!,” Dier said, laughing. “Because you never know what’s going to happen.

“I think we’re in a really good place though, we’ve worked on lots of different styles of game management: being down to ten men, coming from behind, leading a game – we’ve worked on all these different scenarios.”

England’s 2-1 victory over Tunisia was their first win in a World Cup opening game for 12 years, but Dier says there’s no room for complacency.

“Those celebrations were incredible, but now we have to settle down and stay focused, stay calm, because it’s really just three points in the group,” warned the 24-year-old. “It was really important to win the first game, but at the same time there is still a lot to be done.

“Every team is difficult at the World Cup – there’s no such thing as an easy game – and I think that’s been proven by other results we’ve seen so far.

“I watched the first half of Belgium v Panama and Belgium, who are a fantastic side, struggled in the first half. Only in the second did they turn things around. If anything, Panama were the better team in the first half and we know we have got to prepare as best we can for that.”

Dier, who has always been admired for his maturity and thoughtful manner in interviews, moved to Portugal aged seven when his mother took a job in hospitality at UEFA EURO 2004. He played seven-a-side football at Lisbon heavyweights Sporting until he was 13, recruited into the same youth set-up which had produced Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo. The bilingual defender now wants to enjoy the cultural experience of Russia 2018.

“We were one of the last teams to play, which was a bit difficult in a way,” he explained. “We had just been sitting around watching all the games, one after another, and waiting for our turn.

“We want to enjoy the tournament. I think that’s the most important thing, to enjoy the experience as a whole, not just when it comes to matchday but everything about the tournament and being here, as it could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

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