With the delayed EURO 2020 beckoning, it’s fair to say that England manager Gareth Southgate will have more than a few selection headaches in his aim to guide the Three Lions to their first major tournament success since the 1966 FIFA World Cup. Yes, it’s been that long.
With some players rediscovering their old form and the emergence of hungry, young talent coming through the ranks and taking the Premier League by storm this season– Southgate has some unenviable decisions to make.
If the 2018 FIFA World Cup is anything to go by, England is arguably frontrunners to win EURO 2020, but they will be well aware of the world-class competition that stands between them and silverware. France, Portugal, Spain, and Belgium to name a few, but the potential squad at Southgate’s disposal is more than capable of causing an upset and preventing Fernando Santos’ Portugal from winning their second successive trophy after their EURO 2018 triumph.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at who we think is Gareth Southgate’s best possible starting XI for Euro 2020.
England’s most significant strength undoubtedly lies in attack. The system of 4-3-3 will allow the attacking players to flourish and get into dangerous areas of the pitch. Southgate needs to make bold decisions, but his time for experimenting has long gone. Now is the time to give England’s best players a platform to grow and thrive on the EURO 2020 stage.
NICK POPE (GK)
No brainer. Sam Johnstone and Karl Darlow have both impressed this season, but Pope continues to shine and establish himself amongst the Premier League’s very best goalkeepers.
TRENT-ALEXANDER ARNOLD (RB)
He has won it all – 22-years-old and continuing to develop as a player every season. The Liverpool man provides that balance at right-back. Solid defensively and has a killer pass in his armoury that can change a game. Tariq Lamptey, Matty Cash & Reece James have all had terrific seasons too, but TAA edges this one.
HARRY MAGUIRE (CB)
A key figure for England in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Aerially very good and capable of finding a pass that could benefit the wide players. Also, a threat from set-pieces too, if we’re desperate.
JOE GOMEZ (CB)
Finding a solid defensive partnership is imperative for Southgate, and this seems like the ideal fit on paper. A balance of pace, leadership, strength and ability seems like the perfect combination. Michael Keane and John Stones may also be knocking on Southgate’s door if their upturn in form continues this season.
BEN CHILWELL (LB)
Easy choice. Chilwell seems like a sensible option with minimal risk. Bukayo Saka can play there if needed, but he seems to be flourishing on the right-wing for Arsenal with four goal involvements in his last five games for Mikel Arteta’s side.
JORDAN HENDERSON (CM)
Captain fantastic. Makes everything tick and is a born leader who complements the other two midfielders perfectly. Can always be sacrificed for the likes of Mason Mount or Phil Foden if England is chasing the game.
DECLAN RICE (CM)
Over 100 Premier League appearances and West Ham’s Player of the Year last season, Rice has established himself as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. He could prove vital to England’s transitional play.
JACK GREALISH (CM)
Another no brainer. Grealish is creating more chances in the Premier League than any other player so far this season. Plays beyond his years and has excellent technique. Grealish could be that missing ingredient that makes the difference, in a similar mould to Paul Gascoigne. Rice and Henderson sitting will allow him to drive with the ball and showcase his natural ability.
MARCUS RASHFORD (LW)
Seems naturally better on the left when he can cut inside and get a shot away at goal. Rashford is a consistent performer for Manchester United and unquestionably one of Southgate’s best-attacking outlets. The hold-up play of Harry Kane could benefit him to get in-behind and utilise his breath-taking pace.
HARRY KANE (ST)
The first name on the team sheet. Our top goal scorer in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The pace of Sterling and Rashford either side could be the formula to get the best out of him. If he could replicate the partnership with Son with either Rashford or Sterling, that will prove fruitful.
RAHEEM STERLING (RW)
Proved to be significant for England in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. We all remember that moment where Kane should have squared it to Sterling but went alone instead. Hopefully, that has put some fire in his belly to get that extra goal and fire England to European glory. He’s certainly more than capable of doing so.
There we go. After some tough calls, that is the strongest England starting XI available to Gareth Southgate in our opinion.
With the potential of bringing Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka, and Jadon Sancho off the bench, England has a strong chance of winning their first major trophy in 54 years.
Could Southgate finally be the one? Time will tell later this year.
Words by Dan Woffenden – @DanWoff98
Graphic by Sam Ingram – @SamIngram_