The Tottenham man has become a quiet talisman for this new, nascent England.
Whether used as a central or deep lying midfielder, Dier has been the reliable rock around whom Southgate has tended to construct his teams.
Against Germany last Friday in the encouraging goalless draw at Wembley, the 23-year-old Tottenham man was exemplary.
When playing deep, as he did against Germany, Dier was fine because short tidying-up passes are what are called for.
With the industrious Jake Livermore beside him, and the more attacking Ruben Loftus-Cheek ahead of him, Dier looked comfortable.
It is when playing in the middle of a 4-4-2 formation and asked to be more expressive, more attacking, that Dier can struggle. There are still doubts about the accuracy of his passing at the highest level. But as a mopper-upper, Dier, steady, calm and decisive, has looked more than capable, as he showed against a strong German team who pressed England hard at times at Wembley.
Brazil though are different. With the five-time World Cup winners, especially against a revived team now flourishing under Tite, you don’t see a lot of the ball.
Last night, though he dropped deep and tried to protect his defence in a five-man midfield in front of a back three, Dier found the game all too often going on around him.
With Neymar dropping off into the spaces, dipping into those awkward areas between defence and midfield, Dier was too often chasing shadows.
Only Kyle Walker (11,872) and Marcus Rashford (11,488) have had more minutes than Dier (10,900) in Southgate’s 13 matches before last night.
Those minutes last night will have felt long though. England saw very little of the ball for long periods, as is usually the case with Brazil. The problem was, when they did get it, Southgate’s team could not hold on to it.
Dier’s frustration showed at one point as he dived in on Renato Augusto – but fortunately did not make contact. Then for once he got the ball off Neymar – but then immediately gave it away to Gabriel. The Tottenham man began to move forward in an attempt to get the ball, and one good run saw him surge through two tackles to set up Ryan Bertrand for a cross, but Brazil cleared the danger.
Dier’s overall passing accuracy in all competitions this season, including for England, is 86.7 per cent, which is higher than his rival Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson at only 81.7 per cent. But all too often last night Dier was stood with two yellow shirts bearing down on him, passing the ball beyond him to another Brazilian.
It is hard to mop up when you cannot get the ball to mop up – and then there is no one to pass it to. Everyone else is chasing. At one point, Brazil’s possession rate was 76 per cent – though they actually created few clear-cut chances.
Credit to Southgate’s young Lions for not allowing themselves to be opened up. There are going to be more games like this next summer, when England come up against the elite. Dier will have learned a lesson last night. Get hold of the ball – and keep it.
Source : EXPRESS