The big decisions facing England boss Gareth Southgate for semi-final against Netherlands

Gareth Southgate is facing some big decisions ahead of his England side’S Euro 2024 semi-final clash with the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Southgate switched to a three-at-the-back formation for the quarter-final clash with Switzerland and has a big call to make on whether to stick with it for the Netherlands, or instead revert to the four-at-the-back system which he had gone with prior to Switzerland.

Luke Shaw’s return from injury off the bench also poses a dilemma on whether to hand him a first start so soon after returning from a five-month spell out with injury.

Here are some of the big decisions facing the England boss…

Stick with a back three?

Perhaps the biggest call Southgate has to make is whether to stick with the three-at-the-back formation he went with against Switzerland. While it took a penalty shoot-out for the Three Lions to progress, there were some signs of improvement in their performance, particularly in the first half. The system saw Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden start as number 10s with Bukayo Saka and Kieran Trippier as wing-backs, and a back three of Kyle Walker, John Stones and Ezri Konsa.

Fitting England’s star players into a single team has proven a challenge for Southgate and the system against Switzerland arguably provides the most sensible solution with Bellingham and Foden both able to play in their favoured positions.

Drop Phil Foden?

It seems unlikely that Southgate would drop Foden given the loyalty he has shown him so far despite being below his best and given that he has the ability to decide a game on his own. But the reality is that Foden has not shown anywhere near the form he displayed at Manchester City last season and with an outstanding replacement in Cole Palmer waiting in the wings, it is nonetheless a consideration for the England boss.

Palmer has looked very lively off the bench during the Euros and deserves an opportunity from the start, but dropping Foden for such a big game would be an incredibly bold call. There are also other options for Southgate if Foden is left out, such as pushing Saka further forward and starting Trent Alexander-Arnold in the right wing-back role if he sticks with the back three.

Start Luke Shaw?

Shaw looked comfortable upon his return from injury off the bench against Switzerland and Southgate now faces the decision of whether to start the Manchester United man against the Netherlands. Prior to the Switzerland game, Shaw had not played since February because of injury so it would be a big ask for Shaw to play 90 minutes or more so soon after coming back. But the natural left-sided balance and overlapping threat he provides this England side with would be a massive boost.

Recall Guehi?

Crystal Palace man Marc Guehi missed the quarter-final against Switzerland because of suspension having impressed in the four games he had played previously for England at Euro 2024. But Ezri Konsa was also impressive in place of Guehi against Switzerland and does not deserved to be dropped. It would be a surprise if Southgate did not reward Guehi with his impressive form by recalling him to the side though.

Who partners Rice?

Southgate has consistently opted with a double pivot in midfield but has altered Declan Rice’s midfield partner throughout the tournament. It started with Alexander-Arnold, then switched to Conor Gallagher for a game, before starting Kobbie Mainoo in both knock-out games. Mainoo has looked the best of the three and it would be a harsh call to drop him. But Southgate has shown that he is willing to rotate in that position.


Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Latest

To Top