England will begin their hunt for the first International Trophy since 1966 against Croatia at Wembley. England comes into this game with much scrutiny surrounding Southgate’s team selection. Trent Alexander-Arnold has pulled out of the tournament due to a thigh injury and Ben White has been called up as a replacement. In this article, we will predict England’s playing XI and tactics vs Croatia.
A lot has gone wrong for Croatia since their historic performance in the World Cup 2018. They were disappointing, to say the least, in the nations league and have been outplayed by many opponents. However, they still possess undeniable quality in midfield and attack.
Croatia are set to the lineup in a 4-3-3 formation, noticeably without Ivan Rakitic in their ranks. The midfield possessing Marcelo Brozovic, Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic can outplay any other team on their day. In the attack, Ante Rebic is coming off a very good season with AC Milan while striker Kramaric has been very consistent for Hoffenheim in the last few seasons.
Croatia will look to maintain and recycle possession, with Luka Modric expected to act as the playmaker. They will not take too many risks, knowing fully well that the pressure is on England to start the tournament with a victory.
England’s playing XI
Goalkeeper : Dean Henderson
Not only England fans, even Jose Mourinho publicly stated that he wants Dean Henderson to start in England goal. However, Southgate values Pickford a lot and hence the choice of Goalkeeper will evoke much debate before every England game. Pickford is more experienced at this level but Henderson has been magnificent in United’s recent outings.
Defenders : Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Tyrone Mings, John Stones, Luke Shaw
England are set to miss their best defender Harry Maguire due to injury concerns. That leaves Southgate with little choice and he could well resort to his favoured 3-5-2 formation. Kyle Walker, Tyrone Mings and John Stones are expected to form the three-man central defense at the back.
In such a case, Walker will drift into spaces when England is in possession to aid build-up play. Reece James could also start in a three-man defense as he did in the Champions League final against Manchester City. But Walker was part of a three-man defense in the 2018 World Cup and hence will be part of England’s playing XI. Trippier and Luke Shaw will provide width in attach but both of them are grown in stature as a defender in recent seasons.
Midfield : Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice, Mason Mount
Declan Rice is coming off a career-best season with West Ham. He has been praised for his positioning and astute reading of the game. Henderson will be Rice’s partner in the defensive midfield role, provided he maintains his fitness levels.
Mason Mount might play a role similar to what he does under Tuchel at Chelsea. He will drop back and help the defensive midfield duo if needed but will also create chances further up the pitch.
Forwards : Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford
Harry Kane will be the first name in England’s playing XI, and he is expected to partner Rashford in the attack. Rashford will provide pace and directness, while Kane can release him with through balls. Jadon Sancho could be a good fit to partner Kane in attack, but Southgate is bound to trust the more experienced Rashford.