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World Cup 2018: 5 reasons why England's recently employed back-three system is doomed to fail in Russia

David C
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1.66K   //    03 Jun 2018, 02:10 IST

2018 International Football Friendly England v Nigeria Jun 2nd
2018 International Football Friendly England v Nigeria Jun 2nd

England played the first of their two World Cup warm-up friendlies this weekend, beating a decent Nigeria side 2-1 with goals from Gary Cahill and Harry Kane.

The performance faded in the second half after the Super Eagles' clever change of system at the break, but there were signs of encouragement in the first as Gareth Southgate persisted with the back three system used in friendly dates in November and March.

However, with the Three Lions yet to test their new formation in a competitive fixture, several questions remain as to its efficacy.

The fact is that, in five games playing three centre-backs, England have only managed a mere four goals. They twice drew 0-0 to Brazil and Germany late last year, before finding the net only once in games against the Netherlands and Italy.

With Harry Kane restored to the starting XI against Nigeria, the side carried much of more of goal threat this weekend, but still, they relied on a set piece to seal the victory.

#5 Bus-parking opponents

FIFA were seen to have done England a massive favour at December's World Cup draw, with Gareth Southgate's side placed into Group G alongside Belgium, Tunisia and, in their first-ever finals appearance, Panama.

According to most bookmakers, the two European sides will breeze past their minnow opponents in matches one and two before deciding top spot when they meet in Kaliningrad on 28 June.

Any fans who followed the Three Lions in previous tournaments, however, will be much more cautious. In 2010, they were held to a goalless group stage draw by Algeria, four years after labouring to a late 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago. 

Unlocking deep defensive blocks of the kind Tunisia and, in particular, Panama will likely employ in Russia requires creativity and imagination, something England - by not selecting Jack Wilshere or Adam Lallana - chose to leave out of their final squad.

Against Nigeria, they were able to open the game up by scoring from a set piece in the first seven minutes, but opponents in competitive fixtures more often than not keep it tight in the opening stages. Without an early goal, they may struggle to find their rhythm.

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