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.
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.
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.
MURPHY: No. I would stick with what has got the team this far. To make fundamental changes risks unnecessary confusion.
Video: Soccer-England get the job done with 1-0 win over Czechs (France 24)
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.
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…
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