By 90Min
November 07, 2017

With the International break approaching and friendly matches against Germany and Brazil on the cards - the opportunity for Gareth Southgate to experiment with his tactics and squad is here. 

With the World Cup in Russia next summer, England will be looking to put past tournament failures behind them and bring football home. With England failing to progress past the quarter-finals of a major tournament for 20 years - expectation has never been lower. 

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This has raised questions over England's approach, with outdated tactics and a crumbling mindset in crucial games over recent years. The Three Lions look to dominate possession and create plenty of chances, but a lack of lethality has lead to a lack of goals in recent tournaments - the last time England scored three goals in a match was against Sweden at Euro 2012.  

That means in seven successive games at major tournaments, England have failed to score more than two goals - against weak opposition at that, such as Ukraine, Costa Rica and Slovakia. A low scoring England team that dominates games shows that something doesn't add up, with the expectation of a nation still weighing heavy on the player's shoulders. 

Southgate's qualifying record should not be taken as gospel, given England's overall record over the past few years. This presents the argument of how we should set up at tournaments - with the counter-attacking style becoming so pivotal in the Premier League. 

With the success of this brand of football evident at club level, notably Spurs' 3-1 demolition of Real Madrid last week showing the optimal way of playing on the counter and with five England players amongst the starting eleven - could the national team play this style?


Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and the aforementioned Spurs all look to transition from defence to attack quickly, a cornerstone of a system that aims to keep the defence tight while scoring plenty of goals. United boss Jose Mourinho was arguably the catalyst of this movement, perfecting the style in a league winning season with Real Madrid in 2011/12. 

Building around this set up would see Southgate opt for the spine of Pochettino's Spurs, with Kane leading the line, supported by Alli and Dier deployed in midfield. Add the pace of Rashford, Sterling and Walker on the flanks, England clearly have the players that will thrive in this style. 

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However, the World Cup side of 2014, arguably the worst of the millennial era, was built around the title-challenging Liverpool side and their style - coming out the blocks fast, using pace and a narrow attacking formation. Featuring five Liverpool players, Sturridge, Sterling, Gerrard, Henderson and Johnson, the squad embarrassingly ducked out in the Group Stages. 

With the selection of the national team based on the performances of players at club level - it would make sense for England to use a system that reflects the majority of clubs in the Premier League. However, all will be revealed in Russia, as Southgate tries to return the footballing glory days to England. 

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