It’s official – England manager Gareth Southgate has announced his final 26-man squad. The nation’s hopes and dreams will live and die along with the 26 people Southgate has entrusted to European glory. What is important to take away from Southgate’s squad are the possible signs on which our three Lions will march into this year’s Euros with the desired formation.
Does the inclusion of four write-backs add five to the back formation?
In what could be the most shocking revelation of the three Lions finalizing the Euro 2020 squad, Gareth Southgate picked four, yes you read that right, four traditional right-backs. Kyle Walker, Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Kieran Trippier have all been cast.
There is no doubt that all four right-backs are excellent players and each will bring something different to the national team, but four right-backs. I mean, it’s definitely a tough call on which one to leave, yet that’s the role of the manager of the Three Lions. Does Southgate’s decision to include all four men mean they lack the ruthlessness of a national team manager? Or is it tactical genius?
Harry Maguire, suffering a bad ankle injury at the end of the season, may not be fully fit to start at Euros. Now without a fit Maguire, a back five is probably the safest route to protect a fragile three lions. Walker and James have shown they can play in one of those three center back positions. Now introducing the Trippier and the Trent, two more right-wing-back options have become necessary.
Why are there only two conventional strikers in the team?
To be completely honest, I can’t believe Southgate didn’t choose third choice number nine. England receives a high amount of proven goal scoring strikers. Patrick Bamford scored 17 Premier League goals this season, with Danny Ings 12, Callum Wilson 12 and none in the provisional 33-man squad. So of course after Mason Greenwood withdrew from the national team due to injury, Ollie Watkins would get the nod.
No. Watkins was dropped from the final 26-man squad and Southgate decided to go with only two conventional strikers. Harry Kane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s combined 39 goals in the Premier League this season should give the British public confidence to move to the Euros. However, what if someone gets injured? What if we need an alternative off the bench? Ollie Watkins could prove the spark that an out and out striker could bring, especially when taking on a squad of 26.
Although it must be said that Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling have played in the middle for their respected clubs this season. Although both are more dominant down the flanks, Southgate can call on them if need be.
Bukayo Saka is top quality talent. He has often carried a poor Arsenal team on his young inexperienced shoulders. So credit given, where credit is due. I believe the inclusion of Saka is surprising as he would fit into the three Lions squad.
Saka’s preferred position is as a winger, but the likes of Sancho, Sterling, Rashford and others trample him down the pecking order. It is unlikely that we will see Saka in attacking position on the pitch. Still, Saka is a versatile player, he has popped up on both left and right wing-backs, left-backs and flanks. Therefore, Southgate has equipped itself with the gem of a player who can fill around the pitch.
The re-inclusion of Saka could indicate a five-sided turn on the back formation in the euro at Southgate. Or the place of doubt for experience may be one. Where Shaq plays a limited number of minutes but gains a sense and understanding of what it is like to be part of the national team for major future tournaments.
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