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Big Sam is wrong, England must stick with three centre-backs

By on December 26, 2019

first_imgSam Allardyce has been full of interesting opinions on talkSPORT during this World Cup here in Russia, he’s been a pleasure to work alongside.But I totally disagree with him over his idea that England don’t need three centre-backs against Sweden. John Stones was outstanding for England against Colombia in the last 16 So I would stick with three at the back, although there are two reasons that might make me reconsider that. First, if Kyle Walker is injured, after he went off with a knock. Phil Jones and Gary Cahill just don’t seem right in our system in my view, although I may be wrong. So maybe a back four might be the best way forward.The other reason is mid-game. Belgium toiled terribly against Japan in Rostov the other night, and it was clear by half-time that the Japanese plan of getting in behind the wing-backs was giving them the advantage. In the commentary box we all felt Martinez would switch to a back four to combat the problem. He didn’t, and Japan went 2-0 in front. Then the manager changed it, and Belgium came back to win. It was a close shave. If England have a similar problem in Samara against Sweden, I hope Gareth Southgate acts a little bit quicker than Martinez did.Join talkSPORT for LIVE commentary of England v Sweden in the World Cup quarter-finals – Saturday, July 7: KICK-OFF 3PM BST Last year Gareth Southgate and Steve Holland came out to the Confederations Cup to watch the best teams in the world compete. The pair sat down for a meal in Sochi having just watched the Germans win and decided that night to go with their three at the back plan. They felt it was the best way to tackle the best teams in the world, and if England were to do anything meaningful at this World Cup we would have to at least have a plan to beat those teams.Of course, it isn’t something that is set in stone, they can change. But this system isn’t just about being solid. Southgate wants England to play out from the back. With two centre halves, a high press can leave you vulnerable. With three centre halves, all comfortable on the ball, there are more options and you are less likely to be boxed in or give away possession.Sweden vs England in the World Cup quarter-finals will be LIVE on talkSPORT on Saturday, kick-off 3pmThere is an issue of creativity, or lack of it, but I would be asking Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and the wing-backs to keep showing for the ball, they have to constantly find pockets of space where they can receive the ball, and they all have to be comfortable receiving it even when under pressure.I think they did all these things against Colombia but my complaint about that performance was that there was not enough zip to our play. Spatial awareness is everything, and every time an England player receives the ball he should be able to tell you where all his teammates are on the field. Those teammates need to be on the move finding space so that balls can be fizzed around first time, that’s the best way of disrupting opponents. Ultimately, it comes down to a question of whether England have the quality to make that happen.The Colombia performance wasn’t perfect, but the opposition looked supremely solid at the back. We controlled the game in large parts, but without that killer second goal.So the players are comfortable in the system. Watch John Stones, he sometimes drifts into midfield meaning that we’re not always playing three. Look at Harry Maguire bringing the ball out. It’s not like we have three lumps at the back hoofing it away when the ball is in their vicinity. These are proper footballers. 2 2 Sam Allardyce believes Kieran Trippier or Kyle Walker should be left out of England’s side to face Sweden last_img read more

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