Three things Gareth Southgate MUST do for crunch Euro 2024 Slovenia clash including giving flying winger a starting spot

Three things Gareth Southgate MUST do for crunch Euro 2024 Slovenia clash including giving flying winger a starting spot

FOUR points from their two opening group games for England at Euro 2024 could be seen as a reason for celebration.

It is widely accepted, after all, that four points will be enough to secure qualification.

GettyGareth Southgate must make some tactical tweaks for the Slovenia game[/caption]

GettyEngland can qualify top of Group C if they beat unbeaten Slovenia[/caption]

For the Three Lions though, this has not been the case.

A drab 1-0 win against Serbia was followed up by a nervy 1-1 draw against Denmark.

But they still go into their final Group C match against Slovenia as the favourites to progress top of the table.

The mood around England is anything but positive with Serbia causing problems and Denmark having the better of the second group match.

Gareth Southgate has been criticised for a tactically passive approach with performances from the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Phil Foden and Harry Kane viewed negatively.

Southgate is expected to tweak his side with Conor Gallagher set to start in favour of Alexander-Arnold against Slovenia.

But to win the game and brush off naysayers, Southgate will need to change more than just one player against Slovenia, who are no pushovers and seeking a last-16 place themselves after two points from back-to-back draws.

Below we consider three key changes Southgate needs to make in order to get the best out of this England squad.


Be more aggressive out of possession

England sat incredibly deep against Denmark

One of the most interesting aspects of the Euros so far has been the number of teams pressing high with aggression when they are out of possession.

Austria and Spain in particular have looked very strong in this tournament without the ball.

England, on the other hand, have been incredibly passive out of possession and have looked to drop back into a medium or even deep defensive block.

Southgate has blamed the condition of the team for this, saying they are too tired to press how he would want.

This lack of intent to press and win the ball back has seen England surrender possession, with both Serbia and Denmark controlling large periods of the game and applying pressure.

Here we have an example of England dropping too deep with nine players behind the ball

There are some who think England cannot press high and with aggression with Harry Kane as the lone striker.

When a team works high and looks to apply pressure quickly to the opposition as they build their attack then the press really needs to be led by the striker.

This would mean Kane would have to be aggressive and quick to engage and press with players filling in and pressing higher around and behind him.

While Kane does not typically press in this way at club level, as Bayern Munich are not aggressive out of possession, he is more than capable of playing in this manner.

This lack of pressure from England leaves space in their defensive unit

Then the likes of Bukayo Saka, Foden and Jude Bellingham all have the capacity to press and support behind the forward as he presses high.

England need to be released and allowed to press high in order to disrupt Slovenian early if they want to dominate their final group match.

The Anthony Gordon solution

Anthony Gordon can stretch the opposition defence

England have been calling out for some genuine width on the left-side of the pitch.

While Saka, 22, has been one of the bright spots for England on the right side, where he has stayed outside and attacked the opposition defenders 1v1, the same cannot be said on the left-side.

Foden has been more inclined to come inside and occupy the channels – and even the central spaces.

Having a winger with a tendency to push inside and look to combine in central spaces is a strategy that works best when you have a full-back who can move into attacking positions in order to stretch out the pitch.

However, without Luke Shaw England do not have this, and are instead being forced to play right-footed Kieran Trippier at left-back, who also looks to play narrow and inside whenever possible.

Here we see why Anthony Gordon can be effective for England in stretching the opposition defence

The obvious answer for Southgate is to move Foden from the left-wing to another position and to bring in a more orthodox winger on that side of the pitch.

Newcastle United winger Anthony Gordon is the obvious option for this, but is yet to earn even a single minute in Germany.

Gordon, 23, is the kind of player who will get into positions on the outside of the opposition defence and wants to receive the ball and attack defenders in the same way Saka has been on the right.

Having wide players who stay outside and who look to attack and really stretch the width of the pitch will then create more space in central areas that England can look to exploit.

Here Gordon gets on the ball and immediately looks to be aggressive and drive forward

This would allow for attacking players and creative central midfielders to drive forward to occupy and attack the new open space.

Bringing in Gordon for this final group match will just give England and Southgate a different dimension that they have been missing.

Move Bellingham deeper

Jude Bellingham loves to drop deep to get on the ball

It would be fair to say Bellingham, 20, has been one of the shining lights of the tournament so far, and not just for England, with the Real Madrid midfielder playing as the 10 in England’s 4-2-3-1 shape.

There is a strong argument, however, for Bellingham to be moved into a deeper starting position and to have him partnering Declan Rice as one of the two deeper midfielders.

So far the experiment of using Alexander-Arnold as a midfielder, as opposed to at right-back, has not worked as intended, and it seems Southgate is leaning towards replacing him with Gallagher.

But with Bellingham dropping into deeper areas to get on the ball and dictate the game, it would England without an advanced midfielder who can get into pockets of space between the lines and receive the ball.

Bellingham will drop into deeper positions often to try to get on the ball and create overloads deep for England

This is a role that would be perfect for Foden, 24, with Bellingham starting in a deeper role.

Given the fact England have one of the best 6’s at the tournament in Rice we would still see Bellingham given freedom to move high from his deeper position and to look to join the attack.

He would just be doing it from a deeper position from where he can gain momentum and make late runs into the area, like how he scored the winner against Serbia.

Bellingham often leaves positions like this to come deeper when in fact England need a player in the more advanced areas to be in the pockets

This would also, of course, create an opportunity for Southgate to play Foden in a central area from where he can be at his creative and dangerous best.

Playing Foden as the 10 would see the Manchester City man in a position that is more suitable for him.

Perhaps this tweak is something we’ll see later in the tournament, if Gallagher is brought into the deeper role on Tuesday.


Southgate showed resilience and patience in going with the same starting line-up in England’s first two group matches.

Now though he faces real pressure to make changes and to be more expansive and positive in his approach.

Not long now to find out how he will react.


ENGLAND stumbled to a drab 1-1 draw with Denmark.

Here’s how SunSport’s Tom Barclay rated the Three Lions team.

Jordan Pickford: 6

Looked a little jittery early doors, though there was nothing he could do about Morten Hjulmand’s corker and he made a decent parry after the break.

Kyle Walker: 7 

Made England’s opener by racing round a sleeping Victor Kristiansen – he’ll be having nightmares of that forevermore – and teeing up Kane via a deflected cross.

John Stones: 6

OK but you have got to wonder how fit he feels having barely played for Man City in the second half of the season, plus his injury and illness issues over the last month.

Marc Guehi: 8 and my star man

Really encouraging again from the Crystal Palace centre-back, looking sharp with his interceptions and assured in distribution.

Kieran Trippier: 6

Like Stones, he was fine, but England really need Luke Shaw back ASAP because having no natural left-footer at left-back is a problem.

Trent Alexander-Arnold: 5

This experiment of playing Trent in midfield is far from convincing, especially when his passing was off it like it was here, barring one good ball to Saka. Subbed on 54 minutes.

Declan Rice: 5

Had to cover so much ground as England dropped worryingly deep in the first half and also lost it a few times in front of his back four.

Bukayo Saka: 7

Not quite as electric as his first half against Serbia, but another solid showing from our right winger who has been our most consistent attacker across the two games.

Jude Bellingham: 6

Nowhere near the majestic display he put in against Serbia and one of many who looked tired.

Phil Foden: 7

Was far more involved than against Serbia – although that was not hard – and had a few dangerous efforts from range, including one that smacked the post after the break.

Harry Kane: 6

Netted his 64th goal for his country with an opener he could not really miss, but then gave the ball away from Denmark’s leveller. Surprisingly subbed.


Conor Gallagher (on for Trent, 54): 7

Vital clearance on the stretch when Christian Eriksen was lurking and was not afraid to put his foot in.

Ollie Watkins (on for Kane, 70): 6

Played in by Bellingham’s lovely ball after coming on but could not finish from an acute angle.

Jarrod Bowen (on for Foden, 69): 6

Copped a nasty tackle which saw Joakim Maehle booked.

Eberechi Eze (on for Saka, 69): 6

On for his tournament bow though he was rarely involved.


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