England to return to back three for Germany game

Tom Gott
England are likely to revert to a back three against Germany
England are likely to revert to a back three against Germany / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

England manager Gareth Southgate is set to return to the three-at-the-back formation that led his team to the 2018 World Cup semi-final when they meet Germany at Wembley.

Germany, who play a 3-4-3, have looked impressive going forwards this summer and many scouts believe their strength lies at wing-back, where Robin Gosens and Joshua Kimmich are among two of the finest players around.

According to the Telegraph, Southgate feels going toe-to-toe with Germany is the best strategy for the Euro 2020 last-16 tie and he will revert to the three-man defence that brought him success in the earlier years of his reign.

Southgate is looking back to the 2-1 win over Belgium in October 2020, in which England used a 3-5-2 formation, as inspiration for this game - but he's seemingly ignoring the 2-1 loss in the return fixture with the same setup.

For this one, Harry Maguire is expected to start on the left of the back three alongside John Stones and Kyle Walker, with Luke Shaw at left wing-back and Kieran Trippier over on the right.

Harry Maguire
Maguire will keep his spot in the team / Robin Jones/Getty Images

There's no mention of who could start in central midfield, where Mason Mount, Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips, Jude Bellingham and Jordan Henderson are all competing for minutes. Mount, whose ten-day isolation period is now over, has been training alone and was recently tipped to make an immediate return to the team.

Up top, captain Harry Kane will keep his place, and he is expected to be flanked by Manchester City duo Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden, although Arsenal's Bukayo Saka could retain his place after impressing last time out against the Czech Republic.

The switch to a back three has been praised by Jose Mourinho, who wrote in his column for The Times that it's the perfect way to neutralise Germany's wide threat.

"To be offensive, to win a match, a team needs also to be solid and not to have doubts," Mourinho wrote. "In my opinion, the best way to be in control against Germany would be for England to play with a back three and wing backs.

"Portugal played with a back four against Germany and Robin Gosens and Joshua Kimmich destroyed them. Portugal couldn’t cope. Everything started with Kimmich on the right side and once they overloaded there and attracted the Portuguese team over, they made quick changes of direction to Gosens.

"If England play with a back four, it becomes compulsory to have incredible defensive work from the wingers. Then they are going to be very limited. And if they make a mistake, you saw what happened on Sunday with the winning goal from Belgium’s Thorgan Hazard. Bernardo Silva didn’t control the left wing back in that situation.

"In a four, if your full backs go against the wing backs, you give a lot of space on the inside which is where Germany play with Thomas Müller or Leroy Sané, Serge Gnabry and Kai Havertz. If you keep the full backs tighter in, you have to ask your wingers to play a lot on the outside, which is where Gosens and Kimmich are the biggest problem. Playing with a three gives much more security and control."

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