THE POTENTIAL IS MASSIVE, BUT THE CHOICES ARE HARD!.
Considering some of the omissions Gareth Southgate did in his final 26-man squad, choosing England’s potential XI at the Euros was harder than normal.
Nobody knows the tactical insight that made Gareth Southgate make those decisions. Namely gambling on Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire’s fitness, taking out Jesse Lingard and James Ward-Prowse who had tremendous seasons with their respective clubs, and of course, including Trent-Alexander Arnold in the final squad after what felt like a below-average season for the Liverpool full-back.
We are not going to debate those decisions, because simply this is not the place. The squad is in the books now, and the motions are set for the Euros so all we have to do is try and make the best possible starting XI. With the massive talent the Lions’ squad has, maybe the Euros should be “coming home” this year, who knows??!.
Let’s do it and try picking England’s potential starting XI at Euros 2020 (Note: the formation of choice is 4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford
Well, the other options are; Sam Johnstone, unexperienced on the international level, and Dean Henderson, who despite his efforts, won’t get ahead of Pickford. Southgate likes Pickford because he plays out from the back, and because of that alone, he will be the #1. It’s an undisputed fact.
Defense – Centre-backs: Harry Maguire – John Stones
Although Maguire’s fitness is a concern, Southgate will pick him up. John Stones, on the other hand, had a resurgence with Manchester City alongside Ruben Dias. It doesn’t look like the most solid of pairings, Maguire can lose his sense of positioning, and Stones has the odd individual error in him. However, as per the GK, it’s a trusted duo that Southgate is familiar with.
It all hinges on Maguire’s fitness in the first place, which should be a great concern for Southgate. Also, considering the other options available in Coady and Mings, Southgate should only hope that his most experienced CB is fit enough.
Right-back: Reece James
Here is where the hardships start. Technically, England has 4 right back options. It is a double-edged sword. On one hand, its a true testament to the quality of the 4 players. On the other, it causes an automatic tactical issue not just choosing who will start, but deciding why they should start.
Kyle Walker is almost certain to be the 3rd of a 3-man defense, so he is out. Keiran Trippier might present a good case as a Laliga winning player with Atletico Madrid, but it’s unlikely that he will start at least in the early days of the tournament. Then, there’s Trent Alexander-Arnold who had a less than stellar campaign with Liverpool that damaged his stock a bit, but might sneak in for his unbelievable attacking contributions.
However, the RB of choice is very likely to be Reece James, because of his balance between the two roles, and considering also he won the CHAMPIONS LEAGUE with Chelsea and performed brilliantly along the way. This choice also makes sense because of who will take the LB position in this lineup.
Left Back: Luke Shaw
Carrying on England’s potential starting XI at Euros 2020, and the LB position goes to Man United Luke Shaw. He has been a revelation for Manchester United this season, arguably being their most consistent player alongside Bruno Fernandes.
He came a long way from the Mourinho days, where he got consistent criticism for his (lack of) fitness and bad defensive performances. Now, he seems like a rejuvenated player who has a big shout to be England #1 ahead of Ben Chilwell. Chelsea’s man might be better defensively, but Luke Shaw adds so much effort and solutions forward.
Midfield – Central Midfielder: Declan Rice
To be honest, all three choices in the middle of the park come down to limited options. It doesn’t get any limited than the Central position, where all conveniences suggest Rice should be England’s midfield shield. Kalvin Phillips is really good, no mistakes about it, but Rice is the undisputed #1 in that position.
Even with a vast array of options, the West Ham man is familiar with the national team and slots in well with Southgate’s mindset.
Right Midfielder: Mason Mount
One of the, if not the, best players at Chelsea. He has been so consistent for the West London side, that it feels like his call-up and starting XI spot are God-given. He is clever, mature, and so flexible tactically that he could adapt to just about any formation.
If he gets the same confidence from Southgate, as he does with Thomas Tuchel, he will be the star of the national team undoubtedly. Although he is mainly a number 10, he can play from a deeper role which works perfectly considering the rest of the lineup.
Left Midfielder: Jude Bellingham
The Borussia Dortmund teenage sensation has truly earned everyone’s admiration. His amazing performances, particularly in the UCL against Man City, turned so many eyes towards him. With Jordan Henderson’s fitness a massive doubt, he can easily be the first option in that spot with James Ward-Prowse out of the final squad.
When you are tipped to take Liverpool’s captain place, at 17 years of age, you are surely doing something right. His development at Dortmund is almost unreal, which is a promising or a scary prospect depending on his mentality.
Attack – Right Wing: Jadon Sancho
Sancho’s 2020-2021 season is a stark contrast to the previous one. In a way, distancing himself from the Manchester United transfer rumor helped get the best version from him. Akin to his first season at Borussia Dortmund, he adds so much vitality to the attack and gives many solutions.
With Mason Greenwood, arguably the only option that could usurp him (all respect to Saka), injured, it leaves him with an open route to England’s potential starting XI.
Left Wing: Phil Foden
Personally, Phil Foden is a must for England. Jack Grealish is a very luxurious option to have, but his style of play and his qualities feel like those of a super sub in the last 30 minutes. England are playing Croatia (the hardest game on paper), Czech Republic, and Scotland in the group stage. Those are not necessarily games where you’ll need Grealish to hold the ball and draw you lots of fouls.
Naturally, Phil Foden comes in handy. He is quick, incisive, smart, and understands his teammates movements to play off them. He is one of England’s fast rising stars, and should be rewarded in this tournament.
Centre Forward: Harry Kane
Rounding up England’s potential starting XI, it is the Premier League top scorer and assist producer Harry Kane. Simply, no one else could give what he gives to England. His positioning, sense of goal, and movement are on another level which Calvert-Lewin, and omitted Ollie Watkins are just far off now.
Being arguably the best player in the PL, with a side that is playing in the Conference League next season, is a testament to his quality. Aside from the fact he is the captain, his individual numbers can’t go unnoticed. He deserves to lead the attacking line for the lions.
If you feel like there are players who should be replaced, or players that you want in, tell us in the comments or reach me out on Twitter @SidePsp or on Instagram @pitchsidepod. Also, feel free to check out the rest of the football content here on the website. ENJOY!!