3 potential formations for England at the 2018 World Cup
England go into Russia 2018 quite under the radar and without the burden of expectations. Even the most ardent fans can only pray that they reach the quarter-finals at best. But they are not going to be easy pushovers. They have an astute manager in Gareth Southgate. They can line up in a number of different formations to suit the match situation as well as the opposition. So let's take a look at some of the possible starting XIs for them and the advantages of each.
The preferred 3-3-1-3 or 3-3-3-1
This is Southgate's preferred formation. The central defenders provide stability, aerial presence, experience as well as ability to pass the ball. There is also adequate cover in the form of Phil Jones and Harry Maguire.
The wing-backs Trippier and Young have had good domestic seasons. But there will be questions asked of their defensive abilities especially by the likes of Hazard and KDB when they face Belgium in their last group game. Options on the bench include a young Trent Alexander-Arnold and Danny Rose. They can also move Walker to right wing back but Southgate has preferred to use him in a back three.
In the midfield holding role, Eric Dier is their man for all seasons with the ability to play anywhere on the defensive side of the pitch. The same can be said about Dele Alli for the attacking half. But Alli is best utilised when he's given the space and freedom to move around and create chances.
Lingard and Sterling have pace and creativity, and good goalscoring form in the season gone by. With these two on the wings, the team can seamlessly switch from a balanced 3-3-3-1 to an attacking 3-3-1-3 whenever the match demands the same. Marcus Rashford provides further attacking option if required.
Up front, Harry Kane is their talisman and the man on whose shoulders' England's fate depends. He is their one truly world-class player who can turn any match on its head. If he strikes form England fans can hope to navigate further down the knockout phases. But the weakness of this system lies in the defensive frailties of their wing backs and the fact that all their central defenders are prone to commit a mistake or two which might prove fatal against quality opposition.