England predicted XI vs Switzerland: Unleashing Bellingham & Arsenal man’s new role

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Gareth Southgate faces a selection dilemma ahead of England’s Euro 2024 quarter-final with Switzerland on Saturday.

After heading to Germany facing doubts over his ability to cut it in a major international tournament, Crystal Palace centre-back Marc Guehi has arguably been the Three Lions’ most consistent player so far.

The 23-year-old is ranked first among England players at the tournament for aerial duels won (9) and possessions won in the middle third (12), while he’s second for passes completed (312), showing excellent ability and composure with and without the ball.

However, Guehi picked up his second yellow card of Euro 2024 in England’s 2-1 win over Slovakia in the previous round, meaning he’ll miss their clash with the Swiss in Dusseldorf.

What’s more, Newcastle defender Kieran Trippier is a fitness doubt after filling in at left-back throughout the tournament despite struggling with a calf problem.

The latest reports (via talkSPORT) suggest Southgate could make a switch to a back three against Switzerland. It’s a system that has served the England manager well in previous tournaments and could provide extra defensive cover with the Three Lions missing key personnel.

But how could England line up if they make this tactical switch?

England predicted XI vs Switzerland

Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford

No shocks here. Pickford is behind only France’s Mike Maignan (3) for clean sheets with two, while he’s made 10 saves and pulled England out of numerous holes with his agility and alertness. The Everton stopper’s ability on the ball is a huge bonus.

Right centre-back: Kyle Walker

Nominally a right-back, Walker has filled the RCB role for England in the past, most successfully during the run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals. His ability on the ball and recovery speed make him a huge asset while, at 34 years old, he carries a wealth of experience at club and international level.

Centre-back: John Stones

Stones has been spotted training in a knee brace this week, but is expected to be fit to face Switzerland. The Man City star has been the cause of real frustration at these Euros with his play on the ball often painfully slow and ponderous. However, there’s no doubting his quality on peak form, while he’s become a stalwart for England under Southgate. A back three would give Stones more licence to step into midfield and help the Three Lions build attacks, which is where he’s at his best.

Left centre-back: Ezri Konsa

With Guehi suspended, there’s a real opportunity for someone to make their mark at this tournament. Southgate has Joe Gomez, Lewis Dunk and Ezri Konsa to choose from but the latter feels most likely.

Konsa only has five senior England caps to his name, but they’ve all come this year, playing 295 minutes across their final four pre-tournament friendlies and coming off the bench for the second half of extra-time against Slovakia. Konsa is a great utility man, able to play right across the back line, which could be the defining factor behind his selection in this system.

Right wing-back: Trent Alexander-Arnold

Pretty much everybody is in agreement that the midfield experiment didn’t work with Alexander-Arnold. However, nobody can question his incredible ability on the ball. Right wing-back is arguably the best way to utilise the Liverpool man at international level, leaving him to focus on delivering dangerous crosses and defence-splitting passes, with Walker’s speed behind him to cover defensively.

Alexander-Arnold’s last outing on the right flank for England was a 25-minute cameo in their 1-0 loss to Iceland, where he created three chances, attempted 10 crosses and played five passes into the final third.

Central midfield: Kobbie Mainoo

Things still haven’t been perfect — far from it, in fact — but Mainoo has definitely improved England across the last game-and-a-half. The Manchester United youngster has shown great composure on the ball and looks a far more progressive passer than Conor Gallagher, whose best use is as a pressing option from the bench.

Mainoo completed 65 of his 68 attempted passes against Slovakia, including seven into the final third, while he created one chance and fired a volley just over the crossbar.

Central midfield: Declan Rice

Rice is another who has not really hit his best form at Euro 2024 so far, although he did play a key role on both sides of the ball across 120 minutes against Slovakia, with 100% success on dribbling and long passes, as well as four tackles, 10 recoveries and two interceptions.

But the Arsenal man remains an unquestioned starter and key man for Southgate. And who knows; with three centre-backs behind him and the composed Mainoo next to him, maybe this is the system that could allow him to make those driving forward runs we’ve enjoyed so much during his time with the Gunners so far?

Rice’s effort that rattled the post against Slovakia was a snapshot of what he can offer going forward.

Left wing-back: Bukayo Saka

Left-back has been the problem position for England at Euro 2024, with their only natural left-footed option, Luke Shaw, still not fit. A switch to a back three would undoubtedly provide Southgate with a solution — admittedly, an unconventional one — in the form of Bukayo Saka.

The Arsenal man dropped in at left-back during the Slovakia game for a short period while, according to Transfermakt, he’s played that position 22 times during his club career to date, so he’s not a complete rookie.

There’s no doubt Saka would provide the width England have so greatly craved at this tournament and with the defensively solid Konsa behind him, this might just work.

Attacking midfield: Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden | Striker: Harry Kane

Seeing Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden and Harry Kane all trying to occupy the same space has left England fans tearing their hair out during the course of this tournament. Especially when it’s come at the cost of width on the left or a focal point up front.

Is 3-4-2-1 the system that can truly mould the three of them into the attacking force of Euro 2024?

With so much solidity behind them, there would be no need for Bellingham or Foden to worry too much about tracking back, while having them both in close proximity to Kane would allow forward runs when the Bayern Munich striker drops into space to connect the play.

We all want to see Bellingham unleashed into the Zidane-esque free role, Foden allowed to express himself as he does for Man City and Kane to, well, do Kane things. Score lots of goals and pick out ridiculous passes from deep.

With an incredible opportunity to make another final opening up before England, it’s time for Gareth Southgate to do something bold.

More Stories Bukayo Saka Declan Rice Ezri Konsa Gareth Southgate Harry Kane John Stones Jordan Pickford Jude Bellingham Kieran Trippier Kobbie Mainoo Kyle Walker Marc Guehi Phil Foden Trent Alexander-Arnold