England vs Switerzland, EURO 2024 tactical preview: Will a change to a 3-man back allow Foden and Bellingham to flourish? – Viral News

Before the start of Euro 2024, Gareth Southgate’s England had one of the best, if not the best squad on paper, out of the nations taking part in the competition. With the likes of the Premier League player of the season Phil Foden, La Liga player of the season Jude Bellingham and Bundesliga Golden Boot winner Harry Kane in its ranks, England was expected to breeze through the early stages of the tournament.

Flash forward to three weeks later, England has found itself in the quarterfinal, after a series of uninspiring performances in the group stage, and was on the verge of an exit in the round of 16 against Slovakia before a moment of brilliance from Bellingham took it to extra time.

Its quarterfinal opponent Switzerland, on the other hand, came into the tournament with four wins, five draws and one loss in its qualifying group. Murat Yakin’s men put on an impressive show in their group-stage games after finishing second behind Germany, before clinically dispatching defending champion Italy in the round of 16.

Time to switch up for England

Coming into the quarterfinal, various reports suggested that Southgate could be tinkering with his formation, possibly opting for a back three to cover up the position left vacant by the suspended Marc Guehi, with Aston Villa’s Ezri Konsa the frontrunner to be the replacement.

With Keiran Trippier failing to impress in the games so far, Bukayo Saka could start at left wing-back with Trent Alexander-Arnold as his counterpart. Saka could be encouraged and trusted to take care of business down the wing, whipping in crosses with his left foot, something that was severely lacking from Trippier.

Both of England’s wing-backs can provide England control and attacking verve in the wide areas, which was desperately needed in its previous match against Slovakia. All of England’s open-play goals in this tournament have originated from wide positions, something Southgate will hope to replicate against the Swiss.

A well-oiled Swiss side

While England will rely on crosses from its wide players, Switzerland has opted to depend on its pacy attackers to meet the through balls played in between the opposition defence. Switzerland has completed only one cross into the penalty area, which is the least among any teams in the tournament.

Despite this, the Swiss have been one of the most clinical sides in the tournament with a shot-conversion rate of 21.2 per cent, with seven different players finding the back of the net.

Murat Yakin has stuck to the same 3-4-2-1 setup in all the matches so far, with Michel Aebischer and Silvan Widmer keeping the width. Aebischer often links up with veteran Ricardo Rodriguez on the left flank, with the former constantly trying to find Ruben Vargas, Dan Ndoye, Breel Embolo or Kwadwo Duah. He has two assists and a goal to his name so far in the tournament, while also creating six chances.

When defending, the Swiss opt a back-five and have faced only nine shots on target, which is the least in the tournament. More so often, one of Granit Xhaka or Remo Freuler drops back into defence to give them an extra line of protection.

Battle of the midfield

Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka, the most capped player in the squad has undoubtedly bossed around the midfield in the tournament so far. In the round-of-16 clash against Italy, the Bayer Leverkusen man managed 27 line-breaking passes, bringing his tally up to 51 in the tournament so far.

Moreover, Switzerland holds a superior advantage in terms of experience in its midfield compared to its counterpart. Xhaka and Freuler have started together for their nation 50 times and have featured in Switzerland’s last 30 matches in all competitions.

On the other side, the possible midfield duo of Declan Rice and Kobbie Mainoo has only played together for a total of 338 minutes. Despite their quality and skill on the ball, both Mainoo and Rice will have their hands full, trying to break the rhythm and cut off the supply to Xhaka and Freuler, if they are to take control in the middle of the pitch.

England’s number 10 conundrum

Without the presence of a high-quality conventional left winger in the squad, Southgate entrusted Foden with the responsibility down the left flank in England’s matches so far in the tournament. 

However, Foden has yet to register a goal or assist in the tournament, and a change in formation could prove effective when he is given a more central role. Against Slovakia, Foden was seen making runs from the left wing into the middle, only to be met by a strong defensive line.

If Saka and Alexander-Arnold can distract the opposition defence by making wide runs down the wings, Foden and Bellingham will be able to utilise the space in central areas, something we have seen them do throughout the club season.

This would ensure that England’s all-time top scorer Harry Kane will not have to drop back too deep to receive the ball but instead would see more of the ball in attacking areas, after having only seven touches in the penalty box against Slovakia.

While it is not too late for England to restore the confidence in its fans that “it’s coming home”, Southgate will have to get his revamped tactics spot-on against an impressive Swiss side that is looking to get past a major tournament quarterfinal for the first time in their history.

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