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Changes for England? Southgate rumored to have dropped back three against Italy

The Three Lions desperately need three points tonight in Milan against Italy with Southgate potentially calling on a more attacking XI to hopefully arrest poor Nations League form


England’s international prestige is on the line tonight at the San Siro as Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions clash with Roberto Mancini’s Italy as the national team is under threat of a shock relegation to UEFA Nations League B.

After four Group 3A fixtures, England has managed just one goal while allowing six at the other end after a pair of shock losses to unexpected group leaders Hungary along with a pair of draws against Italy and Germany.

With England facing relegation should they succumb to another defeat tonight, which would leave them four points adrift of Germany should their bitter international rivals suffer a shock defeat at home against Hungary, Southgate is under the microscope with the 2022 World Cup just around the corner in two months time.

The same questions and talking points remain as well, with the likes of Harry Maguire still being selected as a central figure in the team despite losing his starting place at Manchester United under Erik ten Hag to summer arrival Lisandro Martínez, but Southgate may have sprung an unexpected tactical change tonight with the match lineup sheet depicting England being set up in a more attack-based 4-2-3-1 deployment.

But despite appearances, there is every possibility that Southgate will still go with his preferred 5-2-1-2 schematic and thus utilize Arsenal starlet Bukayo Saka as a left-wing-back rather than on the right flank in a position that helped him earn England’s Player of the Year.

Though a 4-2-3-1 would be a sight for sore eyes for many England supporters, questions would also then have to be asked why Maguire would be starting in a system that has seen him ruthlessly exposed at club level since last season at Old Trafford which has led to his rapid downfall in the Red Devils senior setup.

Regardless of how Southgate has set his team up tonight, the only acceptable result is a win, with even a draw likely condemning England to an unthinkable result after reaching the final of Euro 2020 on the back of a semi-final appearance at the 2018 World Cup.

Should England be relegated and then also fail to perform in Qatar after being gifted a group comprised of the United States, Iran, and Wales, it would quickly become undeniable that the FA should consider moving on from Southgate and appointing a manager who willfully champions the level of football that is being displayed at the top echelon of the Premier League.


Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.



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