Tonight, England travel to North Macedonia for their fixture in the Euro 2024 qualifiers. The match will take place at the Toše Proeski Arena, with the side already confirmed to finish top of the group. This is the England predicted lineup.
Jordan Pickford has started in goal for all qualification matches, but Sam Johnstone and Aaron Ramsdale have both started international friendlies. Friday’s fixture saw top spot confirmed, so Southgate may view this match in a similar respect to those friendlies.
Kyle Walker has been the first-choice right-back, whilst Kieran Trippier has sporadically replaced him, but more commonly played as a left-back. Harry Maguire appears to be the favoured centre-back, and Marc Guehi has played in four qualification matches this campaign. Lewis Dunk and John Stones have both featured but are injured for the November break.
A midfield three of Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, and Jordan Henderson has been the favourite. Connor Gallagher and Kalvin Phillips have also played a role in the side, along with Trent Alexander-Arnold occasionally making the move from right-back to the centre of the pitch.
Captain Harry Kane leads the line, with star-boy Bukayo Saka playing off the right. Marcus Rashford often features on the left, despite his irregular form for Manchester United. Phil Foden and Ollie Watkins regularly feature (as subs or rotation options), and Cole Palmer made his England debut in the previous game.
England Recent Form and Tactics
The Three Lions extended their unbeaten run (following their World Cup exit) to nine matches, beating Malta 2-0. England dominated and the win was not in danger: in the second half, they had six shots from inside the box and 78% possession. However, Southgate’s side failed to generate more than one expected goal (XG) and allowed the Maltese four shots. The first half in particular was lacklustre, with Malta prevailing on XG and shots taken. Thankfully, attacking flair improved for the second half – partially due to the additions of Saka, Walker, and Palmer.
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Liverpool’s Alexander-Arnold was the biggest talking point of the night (besides the VAR controversy). The right-back was playing as a deep-lying playmaker. He certainly suited the number ten on the back of his shirt: Saka and Rashford were both gifted opportunities by impressive diagonal passes as the 25-year-old completed 8/8 long balls. The man-of-the-match won the ball back for Kane’s goal and would’ve had an assist if Rice’s goal had not been controversially ruled out – Trent was at the centre of everything.
Whilst playing Alexander-Arnold in midfield was a piece of tactical genius, there were tactical blunders. Henderson was easily the worst player in a white shirt, and yet Southgate still refuses to drop him – despite the 33-year-old now playing in the less competitive Saudi Pro League.
If England looked that flat against a Malta side with zero points, fans must be questioning how they will compete against the likes of Germany or France this summer.
England Injuries to Consider
The exciting duo of Jude Bellingham and James Maddison are both out, meaning potential minutes for Jack Grealish, Foden, or Palmer as advanced midfielders.
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With Ivan Toney banned, and Callum Wilson withdrawing due to a hamstring injury, Watkins will likely rotate with England’s top scorer (Kane) against North Macedonia.
Southgate is missing at least seven players that he will wish to play a key part in the Euros in June. This will surely frustrate him, as these matches are where the starting lineup should be familiarising themselves with the system and their teammates. Playing without a real left-back, and without Bellingham (one of the star players), will leave the side unprepared.
England Predicted Lineup
Expect Southgate to rotate the side, having already qualified.
GK: Sam Johnstone
LB: Rico Lewis
CB: Harry Maguire
CB: Fikayo Tomori
RB: Kyle Walker
CM: Kalvin Phillips
CM: Declan Rice
CM: Trent Alexander-Arnold
LW: Jack Grealish
ST: Ollie Watkins
RW: Bukayo Saka