England have jet-setted for the World Cup and now all eyes will be on Gareth Southgate’s team to see if they can manage to get things right this time around or not.
In 2018, England were knocked out in the semi-final by Croatia but this was actually one of the better performances we had seen from an English side for a really long time. Things just got better from then onwards as the Three Lions then managed to reach the final of the European Championship only to be defeated by Italy.
Based on the upward trajectory that this team has been on under their current manager, the fans will be hoping they will now be able to lift that elusive trophy.
However, this will be easier said than done because, after the Euros, Gareth Southgate has had to deal with and dodge several blitzes. From his team’s performances to his questionable team selection, a lot of things have come under the scanner and since this is a mid-season World Cup, the manager will have no time to sit down and sort out all these problematic areas with his players.
England have been pitted in Group B along with Iran, Wales and the USA so Southgate will have no room to experiment with his starting line up. The Three Lions play their first match next Monday when they face Iran and Gareth Southgate will have to get everything spot on.
Jordan Pickford and Ramsdale will fight it out for the number one spot but since England do not play with a sweeper keeper we don’t think the Arsenal man will be an automatic selection. Nick Pope has also done really well for Newcastle United but we don’t think he will get a sniff in.
Kyle Walker has been the first-choice right-back for England in recent years but the Man City defender is currently recovering from a groin injury.
Based purely on form and game time, Trent or Trippier should be getting a start ahead of Walker but the England manager has this habit of selecting his dearests over the players who are in form.
Ben Chilwell picked up an untimely injury earlier this month which means Luke Shaw should be the automatic selection on the left-hand side of defence.
The centre-back position is also one of a dilemma because Southgate has a ton of good central defenders at his disposal. The likes of John Stones, Eric Dier and Ben White will likely fight it out for the two positions in the backline however all eyes will be on the out-of-form Harry Maguire.
Maguire has hardly played for Manchester United this season so he shouldn’t be in the squad as well. But once again Southgate has gone for one of his favourites so it will be interesting to see what he does with the United defender in the coming weeks.
During the Euro, Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips paired up superbly in defensive midfield but this time around we doubt if Phillips will even get a chance to start.
Phillips moved to Manchester City in the summer but so far he’s played only one Premier League game for Guardiola’s side. There’s very little chance that he is going to come into the side, more so because Jude Bellingham has seen a meteoric rise in the previous year.
We think it will be the 19-year-old who is going to partner up with Declan Rice.
Mason Mount and Phil Foden will be fighting it out for the attacking midfielder’s role and if Southgate makes his selection based on form then Foden will be the one who will get a start.
James Maddison has also done pretty well to find himself a spot in the World Cup squad but we doubt if he is going to get into the first XI – not at least in the crunch games.
Bukayo Saka and Harry Kane are more or less guaranteed starters for England because both of them are in top form. Kane has already scored 12 league goals this season whereas Saka has clocked four goals along with six assists for the Gunners.
However, if Harry Kane was to pick up an injury during the World Cup then England will be in deep trouble because his direct replacement is Callum Wilson.
The third position will be up for grabs and as many as three players will be fighting for it. Rashford, Sterling and Jack Grealish have all been below par so far but one of them has to take up that left winger’s role.
In previous tournaments, Gareth Southgate has used Grealish as an impact sub and there’s a big chance that he will go with the same tactics in this World Cup as well.
England predicted line up for the 2022 World Cup:
Predicted XI(4-3-3): Pickford; Luke Shaw, John Stones, Dier/Maguire, Trippier/Walker; Bellingham, Declan Rice, Foden/Mount; Rashford, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka.