The Three Lions Struggle: What would I change?
Posted by John Smith | Published on June 14, 2016
Before the EUROs kicked off, fans of the Three Lions remained optimistic about their chances within the tournament, a different and younger team looked prepared for the tournament they were facing. However, this soon changed following a terrible start versus Russia in a result that ended fairly at 1-1. The agonizing late winner by Vasili Berezutski continued an embarrassing record for England, failing to win the opening game in the European Championship for nearly 50 years.
Although Russia’s defensive style worked for a majority of the game, there were moments where the England team were able to break through the defence, securing 15 shots for the entirety of the game. Consequently, despite the large amount of chances to, the Three Lions were consistently unsuccessful in gaining a goal – with Eric Dier’s strike the only goal they scored the entire game.
With England’s next game against a confident Wales side looming, what changes should Roy Hodgson make to ensure the Three Lions do not repeat similar fate of another embarrassment in European competition? Let’s take a look at what I would do:
Change formation (4-2-3-1 to 4-3-1-2):
Before going into depth about which players should be dropped for the Wales game, it would be beneficial for the Three Lions if they change the formation from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-1-2. If the game against Russia proved anything for England, it would be the fact that playing the same formation against another defensive side in Wales could lead to another European humiliation. The Dragons started their EUROs campaign in good fashion, following a 2-1 victory against Slovakia with only 42% ball possession throughout the match, and will look to extend their run with a win against rivals England.
If Wales play the exact same type of game against England as they did with Wales, then a formation change will be favourable for the Three Lions. The wingers against Russia did not have the best of games, with a majority of crosses having no end product. Kane playing as a lone striker meant he was unable to breach the Russia defence and had an overall lacklustre game. The biggest positive from the Russian game was the fact that Rooney’s performance in midfield was one of the best all game, which England should utilize if they want to win their first game of the competition.
By playing a 4-3-1-2 formation against Wales, the England team will be in a much better position to clinch their first win of the tournament. By having two strikers play, it will give both Kane and his partner a better chance to breach the defensive line of Wales and have greater chances at goal. On top of this, having Rooney play behind the two strikers in this formation will aid the overall creativity of the side as his ability to read runs and make a good pass have improved.
Drop Lallana for Wilshere:
This decision will definitely be valuable to the England side but will be rather harsh on the Liverpool midfielder. Lallana was one of the few bright sparks against Russia on Saturday – putting up a better performance than most players. However, as soon as Wilshere made his substitute appearance, he appeared to be something that the England team needed, but the decision to take off arguable Man of the Match Wayne Rooney in favour of the Arsenal midfielder was wrong. As his performances in the past for England have proved, he should not be left out of the team again. With a change in formation, there will not be a place for Lallana to properly flourish, an attacking minded midfield containing Wilshere, Rooney and Alli will likely be a key asset for the Three Lions to topple Wales.
Drop Sterling for either Sturridge or Vardy:
Both wingers are in a position where they could face the drop, with Sterling likely to join Lallana on the bench against Wales. Sterling’s performance against Russia was not as good as Lallana. He continued to take on every defender he could, which proved to be a mistake multiple times, as well as consistently failing to find a man with his crosses. Sterling’s overall performance against Russia did have some positivity, but a majority of it was simply not good enough for England.
To compliment the change in formation – as stated prior – dropping Sterling for either Sturridge or Vardy could be an important decision for the England manager. Playing either can bring both positive and negative moments for the current England side.
Firstly, Daniel Sturridge could be the man to replace Sterling in the starting line-up. Sturridge has been known to play with another striker in attack – considering his brilliance in the 2013/14 Premier League season with former teammate Luis Suárez. With two fast players in the England attack, both Sturridge and Kane would be able to stretch out the Wales defence, and look for breaches within the latter’s defence to clinch a goal.
However, choosing Sturridge may not be the best of decisions. He has not played for much for England as of late, and was recently ruled out of a friendly which allowed youngster Marcus Rashford to break through in the team and earn a call up to the EUROs squad.
The other man who could lace up his boots for England is none other than Jamie Vardy. The Englishman has enjoyed his greatest season in the Premier League, helping Leicester City to their first ever league title in their entire history. The striker has some similar traits to Sturridge, which the England team could utilize to exploit the Wales defence if chosen to play.
Despite his incredible form on top of his traits, it very well may be a smarter decision to start Sturridge for the England team – but Vardy could still be favoured. The Leicester striker has benefited well from his team’s style of play, dropping back and looking for a counter. However, with Wales likely to take the defensive role, England will definitely be the ones to control the possession for a majority of the game. As Daniel Sturridge is far more used to England’s style of play instead of Jamie Vardy, choosing the current Liverpool striker may be the better of the two options, but, both can bring success.
Stop Kane from taking corners!
The fact that this needs to be addressed is one clear indication of embarrassment that the England side made us – as the fans – feel following their shocking display against a fairly weaker Russian side. After England won their first corner of the game, everyone was shocked as Harry Kane: our only striker, the man who stands at 6ft 2in, and, one of the best at heading the ball in the side, was taking the corners. Why Lallana, Sterling or even Rooney was not taking the corners is still a very strange tactic that doesn’t necessarily make sense to anyone. As expected, the corners were not delivered very well by the Tottenham striker. It would be smart if Kane is taken off corner-taking duty for the next game and is replaced with someone who has much more experience at taking them.
How England should line up: