JERMAINE JENAS and DANNY MURPHY answer England v Germany questions

Should England switch to three at the back? Does Arsenal star Bukayo Saka keep his place in the team? Sportsmail experts JERMAINE JENAS and DANNY MURPHY answer the big questions going into the Three Lions’ last-16 clash against old rivals Germany

  • England finished top of the group with two wins, a draw and no goals conceded 
  • Gareth Southgate’s side though have not yet hit their stride going forward 
  • Questions are being raised over whether Southgate should change system
  • Sportsmail experts Jermaine Jenas and Danny Murphy try to resolve the issues

England have finished top of their group and are now preparing for a stiff test against their old rivals Germany on Sunday.

Gareth Southgate’s side has not yet hit full stride this tournament, despite keeping three successive clean sheets.

With question marks over England’s tactical system and the likes of Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden and Mason Mount, Sportsmail experts Jermaine Jenas and Danny Murphy try to tackle the issues going into Tuesday’s huge knockout clash.

Gareth Southgate has plenty of dilemmas to solve ahead of Tuesday’s last-16 clash

England topped their group with two wins and a draw and have yet to concede a goal

QUESTION ONE: Do England need to be less boring?

JENAS: There is no way England can go into the Germany game playing in the same negative mindset they showed in the second half against the Czech Republic. People have said it was good game management. I am not sure it was. Good game management is dominating the ball, wearing the opposition down. We had possession but not in good areas.

We didn’t put the ball at risk often enough. We passed sideways far too much. There were times when there was a tight pass available but instead it would go back to the back four. Then it ended up with Jordan Pickford.

We need to hurt teams with forward passes and trust the players to deal with the ball under pressure or you allow the opposition to press high. It’s fine if you can then hit teams on the counter-attack but we didn’t manage that against the Czechs. There is a lot to work to do if we are going to win this thing.

England need to show more intensity and stop passing back to defence and keeper as much

MURPHY: It’s less about throwing caution to the wind and more to do with playing with greater intensity for longer periods.

England’s best spells so far didn’t happen because we were gung-ho with the full-backs pushed high or Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips breaking into the box. It was down to winning the ball back and passing at a higher tempo.

Our intensity needs to improve now we are out of the group but it’s not a case of finding a new expansive gameplan.

QUESTION TWO: Should they switch to three at the back? 

JENAS:  Yes. Four at the back hasn’t been electric so far. You don’t think, wow, bring it on. That gives me reason to expect a change.

We are not playing well enough not to consider changing our formation to match Germany with their wing-backs.

Look at how many problems Hungary caused them. Not only would it give us stronger possession but also more control man-for-man around the pitch. Full-back is also one of our strongest areas.

I think Ben Chilwell or Bukayo Saka and Reece James up against Joshua Kimmich and Ryan Gosens is a key match-up we can win.

Jermaine Jenas would start a back three while Danny Murphy would stay with the same system

MURPHY: No. I would stick with what has got the team this far. To make fundamental changes risks unnecessary confusion.

A lot of our players haven’t been in a back three for a long time. We should work hard within our usual system on marking properly, particularly when German players switch positions.

We can cause them plenty of problems in a 4-3-3 and try to exploit their lack of pace. If we change to 3-4-3, it sends a message that we are worried.

QUESTION THREE: Has Saka overtaken Sancho and Foden? 

JENAS: I spoke to Gareth Southgate before the tournament and one of the things he said he liked most was Saka’s versatility and ability to play at left wing-back. He is good defensively and superb going forward.

Against the Czech Republic he was exciting going forward but England also looked solid on the right side with Saka in front of Kyle Walker. Southgate may lean towards that against Germany.

We are at the stage where we need to get the best out of our best players. Phil Foden is one of them but he has still not been played in the position he stars week in, week out.

If Saka plays at wing-back, it leaves room for Foden in a three either side of Harry Kane. You can’t drop Raheem Sterling, no one else has looked likely to score.

Foden could play on the other side but I would always pick Jack Grea-lish and his assist against the Czech Republic only strengthened those feelings.

Bukayo Saka could have forced his way into the starting line-up based on his last performance

MURPHY: If Foden plays on the right, I wouldn’t be unhappy because he is a super talent. But Saka did so well against the Czechs, he has made it nearly impossible to leave him out.

In addition, Germany look ideal opponents to suit his talents. Their defenders won’t like having him and Sterling running at them with pace and dribbling ability. Saka is also among the most versatile players in the Premier League. His own experiences of playing wing-back means he will know how to help Walker compete against Gosens.

It has been a fairy-tale rise for the Arsenal teenager and he underlines Southgate’s ethos that everyone in the England squad is important. Saka didn’t start the Euros but grabbed his chance in the final group game brilliantly. 

QUESTION FOUR: Does Mount come straight back in?  

JENAS: If it’s a back three, I would start Mason Mount next to Phillips. We seem to be the only country obsessed with security and safety in the midfield. Germany have Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan in there. When have we thought of them as defensive midfielders?

Germany have two complete ball players, we have two midfielders in Phillips and Rice who do the same thing. They are both better without the ball, both pass sideways. Their rhythm is similar.

Phillips has more to offer on the ball, but has been restricted so far. After Rice went off against the Czech Republic, he tried to hit a few passes. That is what I want to see. Someone who takes control on the ball.

Both Jenas and Murphy would bring Chelsea’s Mason Mount back into the starting line-up

MURPHY: He would be in my starting line-up, 100 per cent. He won’t have lost any physical fitness during his short period away from the group and showed last season he has a great natural energy about him.

Frank Lampard, who knows Mason far better than I do, also highlights his football intelligence. Any tactical plans he would understand right away, even if he hasn’t been in all the meetings and sessions. 

QUESTION FIVE: Does home advantage matter? 

JENAS: That all depends on how the players handle it. I would rather be in Wembley with 45,000 home supporters than in Munich.

That was why it was so important to win the group. The team could not have gone into that final group game looking for a draw. It is hard to quantify the negative impact that would have had on the players, the manager, the nation. Winning is so important.

It is so much better to be at Wembley. Look at what poor Wales have had to deal with, playing in Baku, then Rome, then Amsterdam. It is hard enough without all that travelling.

The home support for England on Tuesday will give them an edge against Germany

MURPHY: The familiarity of the surroundings and, even more importantly, the fans will give England an edge at Wembley.

The concept of home advantage is hard to define but, having played three group games there already, the dimensions of the pitch will be second nature to Southgate’s players, and the normality of the routine, same hotel, same coach journey, will help.

The fans are the big help though. We saw last season with the number of away wins in the Premier League that taking supporters out of the equation evens things up. As a player, hearing that noise from the stands does give you an extra lift to make that run or tackle. It’s not a guarantee but England will definitely be helped by a passionate crowd.

Share this article

Source: Read Full Article