World Cup 2018: 5 teams who can practically field two teams in the knockouts
This year's World Cup is already proving to be one of the best in terms of drama, top-quality goals and upsets. Defending champions Germany finished last in a group consisting of Mexico, Sweden and South Korea. Lionel Messi's Argentina barely made it to the knockouts while every top team struggled to get going barring England, who surprisingly played well and booked their round of 16 spot just after 2 games.
Now, the knockout stages are set to begin and the margin for error is as low as it can be. Teams will work out strategies based on the opponent and even play different personnel if required. However, not all teams are blessed with quality depth and it could prove to be a major factor in the later stages.
Out of the remaining 16 teams, there are a few who have the squads to practically field 2 XIs. This bench strength comes in very handy in case of tactical changes, injuries and suspensions. Hence, let us take a look at the top 5 teams who boast of such depth:
England look to have finally put their disappointing international record behind them this time around. Gareth Southgate has done a tremendous job since taking over, giving the team an identity and continuity.
Southgate's first-choice XI allows most of their players to play in their natural positions. The team is designed to play from the back with Harry Maguire, John Stones and Kyle Walker. Jordan Henderson takes the no.6 role while Ashley Young and Kieran Trippier act as the wing-backs. Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard are the midfield runners with Raheem Sterling and captain Harry Kane leading the line.
Although not as strong as the other teams on the list, England's second XI has enough quality and experience. They can easily line up in a 4-3-3 formation with Gary Cahill and Phil Jones in central defence, Danny Rose and Trent Alexander-Arnold as full-backs and a front three of Marcus Rashford, Danny Welbeck and Jamie Vardy.
Thus, England team boasts of a strong depth this time around. The Three Lions essentially have players who can easily fit into Southgate's first-choice eleven when needed, making them a strong unit.