The England National Team heads into the UEFA European Football Championship in scintillating form, with a crop of players that some argue could rival the golden generation at the 2004 edition of the tournament. However, this time, hopes are even greater for The Three Lions, as Gareth Southgate’s squad not only has a wealth of depth, but also tactical flexibility.
England enter the competition ranked 4th in FIFA’s Men’s World Rankings, while some of their key players picked up Premier League and Champions League winners medals this season. With the hope and promise that Southgate’s squad could pick up silverware for the first time since 1966, we take a look at how they might approach the competition, tactically and beyond.
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One of the most exciting and noteworthy aspects to their newly announced 26-man squad is the youth and flair within the team. It will be the first tournament for electric and creative players like Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Jadon Sancho, and Jude Bellingham. These youngsters add a certain dynamism to the team, but aksi flexibility with their ability to play a myriad of positions. And while they have several players who have never featured at a major tournament before, they also still have tenacious older heads like Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and (hopefully) Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire. The veteran players aren’t even that old, with Kyle Walker the oldest in the squad at 31 years of age.
The players available make England one of the most dangerous squads in the tournament, with the potential to win it all. In fact, if used correctly, they stand to be one of the favorites of the competition. If you were to look at odds for Euro 2020, you would see England is the favorite to win at +400, with France closely behind them at +500. That may be surprising, given that France won the World Cup in 2018, and England has not won a major tournament since the 1960s. when to think as France won the World Cup in 2018.
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What Gareth Southgate has been lauded for, where previous managers may have been chastised, is his adjustable system. Not married to any single formation, he shifted from a 3-1-4-2 at the World Cup in 2018 to now a clear preference toward the 4-3-3 and 3-4-3.
Long gone are the days where England only deployed a 4-4-2 and tried to make square pegs fit in round holes. Southgate will use a formation that best suits his squad. Much will depend on the fitness of Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson; if they aren’t ready to start, he may use three at the back to solidify the defense.
However, it won’t be to the detriment of the squad. Many in the team have played in a back-three before, and the likes of Chilwell, Mount and James were part of Chelsea’s Champions League winning squad using a very similar set of principles. 4-3-3 may be his best bet to achieve greater midfield superiority, but it won’t be Southgate’s only option. This flexibility should be a great asset for England to use at the Euros, with the ability to adjust system and style of play depending on the opposition.
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No matter the formation, the team will have malleable and fluid players. Kane can and will drop deep to pick up possession; Mount can take up forward positions; and John Stones and Harry Maguire can carry the ball out from the back. Not a single player in the squad would be likely to play with any bit of selfishness, and all involved will be able to fulfill both an attacking and defensive role. The balance of the team should in fact be outstanding, with the likes of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips to play a more defensive role in midfield, and enough talent and firepower ahead of them to attack in droves.
With all this considered, Euro 2020 will be an exciting tournament for the Three Lions. They go into the tournament as one of the favourites for the first time in decades, and could potentially go all the way in achieving that dream.
So there it is! England’s tactical flexibility and potential to win it all at this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament. Be sure to check out more of our articles on Euro 2020 as we head into the tournament this month. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
After taking a few days to reflect on Canada’s disappointing loss against Croatia, I have been able to take away many positives from the performance. Kamal Miller won’t get much in the way of praise after being hung out to dry at the end of the game, but he had another brilliant performance at the back. Alphonso Davies meanwhile bagged the nation’s first goal at a Men’s World Cup inside just two minutes of action, waking my neighbours up as I yelled of joy. But in dissecting the game further, it’s clear to see that Croatia operated at a higher level, with their fanciful one-touch triangulations causing chaos for Canada every time they had the ball. For what feels like the first time ever, a few things will need to drastically change from a tactical standpoint heading into the next fixture from John Herdman’s team. Here are my reflections on Canada’s 4-1 defeat to Croatia.
Canadian footballers operating in the MLS have been notoriously underrated over the years, but now with the nation putting themselves on the world stage, clubs across the globe should start to pay more attention to our greatest players. One of those who has announced himself on the grandest stage is CF Montreal’s Kamal Miller. Miller’s been arguably Canada’s best defender across the two opening group stage matches at the 2022 World Cup, serving as a nice compliment to his defensive partner Steven Vitoria at the back. With a range of qualities on and off the ball, Miller could easily be playing for a club in Europe’s top five leagues already. So with that, we aim to strengthen Miller’s case for a move across the pond.
Canada’s much anticipated first World Cup match in 36 years lived up to the billing, with the Canadians dominating one of the best sides in the world in Belgium. The 1-0 loss will be a slight disappointment for Herdman and his men, but the Maple Leafs will take away the positives from the performance heading into their final two group games. Here is our analysis of Canada’s 1-0 defeat to Belgium.