How England's Unpredictable Defence Could Lineup at Euro 2020 Odds & Prediction

A return of the World Cup back three

Looking like the most likely option of a trio of John Stones, Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker would offer England the chance to play with their three most in-from defensive players. The bookies see Stones (1/3) and Maguire (1/5) as guaranteed starters for the first group game against Croatia, with Walker at shorter odds of 5/6.

Manchester City’s defender, in particular, has played his way back into the England reckoning, with his dominant club performances earning him his first call up since November 2019. At the same time, his versatility in being able to operate in his usual right-back position and England's central defence is another reason why he has managed to get into this spot.

Maguire is an obvious choice on the left side of a back three, due to his own club form, as well as his partnership with his Manchester United colleague, Luke Shaw, who is leading the race for the left wing back spot. The opposite flank could be occupied by Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold or Kieran Trippier, with all three possessing different attributes depending on what is required for specific opposition, but with Trippier earning more caps and continuing to do well with Atletico Madrid, he is expected to play too.

To Make England's Euro 2020 Squad



Alexander-Arnold isn't done just yet

Having been seen as one of the best full-backs in the world over the last few years, Alexander-Arnold's exclusion from the recent England squad was seen as a shock. Southgate claims that Alexander-Arnold has not been up to his usual standards lately, and with competition at right-back heating up, he can’t afford to let his performances slip any longer.

However, if the Liverpool defender is to regain his previous form, then there is nothing stopping him from making the right-back spot his own, but in order to get the most out of him, he must play in a back four, rather than at wing-back, as he does with the Reds.

The 22-year-old is more suited to a back four, as he is used to crossing from deep, rather than bombing down the line and getting balls into the box from the touchline. This slight tweak to the back line could be the difference-maker in whether Southgate can get the most out of one of his best attacking assets, however, this could trouble the impressive defensive displays of Stones and Maguire.

To Make England's Euro 2020 Squad



Chelsea's youngsters still got a chance

One player who has proved to be equally successful in both a back four and as a wing-back is Chelsea’s Reece James, whose game time has significantly increased this season. Starting the season as a more orthodox right back under Frank Lampard, James established himself as one of the top full-backs in the league and was a candidate for Chelsea’s Player of the Season award. Since Thomas Tuchel has taken over, however, the 21-year-old has had to adapt his role slightly, playing further forward as a wing-back, sharing game time with his fellow academy graduate, Callum Hudson-Odoi.

James offers a more energetic option than some of his right back rivals, as he has shown the ability to cross from deep, as well as run it to the touchline and produce inch-perfect crosses. The Chelsea man's inclusion offers Southgate more flexibility with his shape too, as he could set up with a back four to start, but easily switch to a back three, by simply dropping Declan Rice from his midfield role to the backline.

James is 2/1 to start against Croatia in June, but with the manager clearly a fan, this could be a real possibility.

Can Wan-Bissaka bring an alternative option?

Aaron Wan-Bissaka can probably count himself unlucky that he is yet to receive a full England call-up, as there are currently three or four right-backs ahead of him in the pecking order. It comes as a surprise to many, as Wan-Bissaka is arguably the best defensive full-back in the world, so you would have thought he would have been considered by Southgate for this option.

The United defender may not have the same attacking capabilities as some of the players he is competing with, but against the likes of France, Belgium and Spain, he would surely be an important asset when defending counter-attacks.

Also, if Southgate is to persist with his three at the back system, Wan-Bissaka could potentially be a candidate to take over from Kyle Walker eventually, as he offers speed and defensive strengths too, so his ability to cover for his less pacey defensive partners would come in handy. The former Crystal Palace man is 16/1 to start the first game at Euro 2020, so the bookies clearly think this is unlikely, but a string of continued impressive performances for his club may force the England management to reconsider.

By Luke Feather