England manager Gareth Southgate is considering switching to playing with three centre-backs for Tuesday’s Euro 2020 last-16 clash against Germany.
England have not played 3-4-3 this year and the last time they used the formation was when they beat Iceland 4-0 at Wembley in November 2020.
If Southgate does switch from the 4-2-3-1 he has employed at the tournament so far, the three centre backs to start against Germany will be Kyle Walker, John Stones and Harry Maguire.
England reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup with Walker, Stones and Maguire playing as the three at the back.
Southgate is also considering recalling Phil Foden for the game, while there is a real possibility that Mason Mount could return to the starting line-up.
Foden was left out of the matchday 23 for the final group game against Czech Republic, but the England manager has said that was a precautionary measure.
“He’s on a yellow card and given that we look like we’re missing two players already for the next round, I don’t want to take a risk on a third,” Southgate said before the game.
It looks increasingly likely that Foden will now win the battle with Marcus Rashford and Jason Sancho, and start for England alongside Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling in the last-16 tie.
However, Southgate’s view on the ‘missing two’ of Ben Chilwell and Mount seems to be changing.
Chilwell and Mount have been forced to train alone and socially distanced since they came into contact with Chelsea team-mate Billy Gilmour, who tested positive for Covid-19 after the Scotland game.
It was assumed that – because neither England player would be out of quarantine until the morning of the game – neither could realistically be considered for selection.
But it now seems that Southgate is seriously considering including Mount in England’s starting XI at Wembley, even though he will not have trained with the rest of the squad for more than a week.
Gary Neville has urged England’s players to seize their once in a lifetime opportunity against Germany at Euro 2020.
The Sky Sports pundit suffered a painful Wembley Euros defeat to Germany himself in 1996 and says the current generation must do everything they can to capitalise on the advantages of playing such a huge game on their home turf.
“I was a young player at Euro 96, just 21 years of age, and you feel like those moments are going to return,” he told the Sky Sports Football Euros Podcast.
“What I’d say to these lads on Tuesday is this moment isn’t coming back. This is it. Don’t think of this moment ever coming back: playing Germany in a home tournament, in your own stadium, in front of 45,000 fans. You wish it was 80,000, like we had in Euro 96 but it will be enough, it will be a special moment.
“We didn’t create history in Euro 96, we fell short. Don’t fall short on Tuesday, lads. What an opportunity exists if we beat Germany on Tuesday. They’ll know that.
But don’t think that [there will be] 2022 in Qatar or 2024 somewhere else or 2026 somewhere else… forget that, you might not be there. The team might not be there, you might not qualify. All those things exist in future tournaments that are out of your hands.
“This tournament now you have a great chance. It’s so special to play Germany at Wembley, it really is. It’s a major national moment for this country. That’s how it was in Euro 96, a major moment that is remembered forever.
“The lads on Tuesday will not have another moment like this in their international careers because it’s unlikely we’re going to get a tournament [held in England] in the next five or 10 years.
“For the likes of Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling this is it. There isn’t a second chance.”
England are favourites to beat Germany in the last 16 and end the hoodoo of having never managed a knockout victory over their greatest rivals in a major tournament since 1966.
England are ranked higher in the FIFA rankings (fourth vs 12th); they are in better form than Germany (eight wins and a draw compared with four wins, two draws and three defeats); and Southgate’s team will be backed by the vast majority of the 45,000 fans inside Wembley.
Germany have won one, drawn one and lost one in finishing second in Group F, and the tournament statistics would tell you they have been far from consistent.
Rob Dorsett analyses the strengths and weaknesses of Germany ahead of the clash at Wembley.