How will Gareth Southgate’s England line up against the Czech Republic?
England have already qualified for the last 16 of Euro 2020. The only thing that remains to be decided is their final position in the group which will determine which section of the knockout stage they enter.
Gareth Southgate’s side had to progress from their squad, and they did so with one game to lose.
The exaggerated praise that followed the win over Croatia was tempered by some critics in the same way on their display in a 0-0 draw against a well-structured Scottish side.
The reality of England’s performance sits somewhere between reactions to the two games, but there are certainly things for Southgate and his team to improve as they head towards the end of the tournament’s business.
It could also be argued that the only thing that matters at this point is moving on to the next round, and England did it with relative ease despite not being at their best.
Seven outfielders have yet to play a minute for England in this tournament: Ben White, Conor Coady, Harry Maguire, Ben Chilwell, Jordan Henderson, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka.
It is disconcerting that Sancho remains on this list after two games. Based on his club form this season, the 21-year-old would give England a spark and a frankness that he has so far lacked.
No English player in Europe’s top five leagues has managed more dribbles than the Dortmund winger last season and this ability to beat a man can help break down opposing defenses. He must surely start against the Czech Republic.
Of these seven, the one that will certainly be missed again is Chilwell. He and midfielder Mason Mount were forced into self-isolation after close contact with Scotland player Billy Gilmour who tested positive for Covid-19 after the England-Scotland game.
Other complications are added around Henderson and Maguire who already had doubts about their fitness for this tournament before a ball was kicked, but they seem ready to finally play against the Czechs, just like Jack Grealish. .
When evaluating possible team compositions, things can vary depending on whether they are based on personal preferences or when trying to predict what the manager will do.
One of the many questions that needs to be answered would be whether Southgate wants to continue in the areas of his starting XI, or whether he wants to give everyone a few minutes before heading to the round of 16.
Is he getting back into shape, ditching Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane who failed to impress against Scotland, or does he encourage them to get back in shape by picking them up again for this final game? of group ?
There are a number of ways the English manager could go.
Even though it went down to a 4-3-3 in 2021, Southgate has consistently used a three-way return in previous tournaments.
Doing it against the Czech Republic could mean playing time for Conor Coady and Ben White as well as Maguire.
3-4-3 rotation option
Pickford; Blanc, Coady, Maguire; Trippier, Henderson, Bellingham, Saka; Sancho, Grealish; Calvert-Lewin.
The extra center-back could mean it’s easier to justify including Jude Bellingham in midfield, and the top three could then be any number of winger, No.10 and striker combinations. .
Grealish has been the player most requested by fans, and although Southgate uses his own judgment when selecting the squad, there is always a chance that the manager’s ideas will align with those of the supporters.
4-3-3 with some rotation
A slightly shot 4-3-3 would also be an option and could lead to the temptation to include both Foden and Grealish, especially with Mount out.
If he chooses to get Sterling and Kane in shape, it might look like this.
Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Trippier; Henderson, Bellingham, Grealish; Sancho, Kane, Sterling.
An English 4-4-2
Another good option, although Southgate is unlikely to go with their caps and formations so far, would be to include Calvert-Lewin and Kane in a 4-2-2-2 / 4-4-2 .
This could accommodate wingers as well as playmakers and a pair of midfielders who wouldn’t have to be too conservative, as full-backs could judge when to go ahead and swing crosses for attackers and when to stay. back and cover.
Kyle Walker is particularly used to retreating slightly to form a three-way defender and support the midfielder, thanks to Manchester City’s tactics under Pep Guardiola.
Using this formation would mean that Kane’s tendency to descend deep wouldn’t be a problem as Calvert-Lewin will ensure constant presence in and around the box.
Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Sancho, Henderson, Bellingham, Grealish; Kane, Calvert-Lewin.
The best team in Southgate?
One of the reasons the rotation seems inevitable is that Southgate still doesn’t have their best eleven.
He is likely to choose it game by game depending on the opponent, each of whom will have been analyzed before games with strengths and weaknesses assessed.
Jordan Pickford’s excellent performance against Scotland means he has become the obvious choice between positions despite an inconsistent season for Everton.
John Stones appear to be the nailed starter on defense while Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips have been pretty solid in the middle of the midfield, meaning Henderson could struggle to come back even if he was in good shape.
Almost all other positions are up for grabs. Even players considered the best forwards on the English side, Kane and Raheem Sterling, have not been convincing so far and players like Sancho and Calvert-Lewin would come in handy even in big games.
Another thing to point out is that it looks like Southgate will always pick one of the Maguire or the Ming due to their size and presence, so White and Coady may be limited to appearances on occasions when Southgate uses a back three. .
All of this means that there will always be debates surrounding the selection of the team, but there is no doubt that this is due to the strength of the team rather than a weakness. Southgate just needs to find the best way to make the most of this talented team.