Southgate considering switch to back three: How could England line up against Switzerland?

Reports suggest that England boss Gareth Southgate is considering switching to a back three formation when England take on Switzerland in the quarter-finals of Euro 2024 on Saturday.

Southgate has so far opted with a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 system at Euro 2024 but despite reaching the quarter finals of the competition, his side have been far from convincing and Sky Sports are reporting that the England manager is “likely” to switch to a back three against Switzerland.

With that in mind, here are the options Southgate has to consider if he does switch the system and try something new…

Getting the best out of Foden and Bellingham?

Possible line-up (3-4-2-1): Pickford; Walker, Stones, Konsa; Alexander-Arnold, Rice, Mainoo, Saka; Foden, Bellingham; Kane

Perhaps the most obvious solution for Southgate is to employ both Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden in their favoured number ten positions behind Harry Kane up top. The width would then be provided by Trent Alexander-Arnold as the right wing-back and Bukayo Saka on the left. While Saka has been at his best as a right winger for Arsenal, he has all the tools to be an effective left wing-back given that he is naturally left footed and has the energy to get up and down the flank. Kobbie Mainoo was one of the few to impress against Slovakia so could start alongside Declan Rice, while Ezri Konsa comes in to replace the suspended Marc Guehi and Kyle Walker drops back into the right central role he has played for England before.

Toney’s chance?

Possible line-up (3-5-2): Pickford; Walker, Stones, Konsa; Alexander-Arnold, Foden, Rice, Bellingham, Saka; Kane, Toney

Ivan Toney’s impressive cameo off the bench against Slovakia has suggested he is deserving of more game time for England during the rest of the tournament. His physical presence up top was crucial to turning the game in England’s favour and so perhaps Southgate could consider starting with a front two of Kane and Toney against Switzerland. Adding another striker poses problems in midfield, however, making it difficult to fit both of the attack minded Bellingham and Foden into the team and means England could be left exposed in the middle of the park if he wants to start both in this system.

Find a place for Palmer?

Possible line-up (3-4-3/3-4-2-1): Pickford; Walker, Stones, Konsa; Alexander-Arnold; Rice, Bellingham, Saka; Palmer, Kane, Foden

Southgate could, alternatively, get Cole Palmer into the team, who has looked very positive off the bench so far. This would mean Saka moving to left wing-back and giving the reigns to Palmer, which is a bold and perhaps harsh decision given what Saka has done for England over the past couple of years. Palmer and Foden both have the capability to play more central or wider, which provides flexibility for Southgate depending on how the game goes.

Keep Saka on the right?

Possible line-up (3-4-3): Pickford; Walker, Stones, Konsa; Alexander-Arnold; Rice, Bellingham, Trippier; Saka, Kane, Foden

Switching to a three at the back would mean Saka likely makes the most sense as the left wing-back option. He has not had the best tournament so far, like the majority of England’s players, but given what he has shown he can do on the right wing for England and Arsenal, shifting him to the left wing-back role means England would potentially be nullifying one of their best attacking threats. Southgate could instead opt to keep Trippier in the side and use Saka in his best position.


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