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England Euro 2020 Preview

A look at the English national football team going into the Euro 2020 with a touch of Football Manager 2021. Using performance analysis to find the perfect players.

By on Jun 09, 2021   725 views   0 comments
EURO 2020 - England Euro 2020 Preview
The UEFA European Championship (Euros) is a national men’s football competition between European countries held every four years.

There have been nine countries that have won the Euros; Germany and Spain with their respected 3 titles, France with 2, whilst Portugal, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Greece all have 1 each. Spain is the only country to win consecutive tournaments in 2008 and 2012.

England’s Euro record from 1960 displays a total of 139 matches played, 83 wins, 35 draws and 21 losses where they collated a goal difference of 199. 4 of the drawn matches went to a penalty shoot-out resulting in 1 win and 3 defeats.

England’s best performance in the Euros was a third-place finish in Italy in 1968 when only 4 teams competed in the final’s tournament. They also lost to Germany on home soil in 1996 where they lost to Germany on penalties.

The national have gone through a fair amount of spot-kick heartache over the years where they have lost more than they have succeeded. Penalties have haunted England for generations at major tournaments, especially throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

One of the most famous shootouts was the during the 1996 Euro tournament. It saw Shearer, Platt, Pearce, and Gascoigne score which equals Germany 4 penalties scored. Moller scored next for Germany and it all came down to Gareth Southgate unironically who sadly missed.

So, what’s next for England?

The national side will be hoping for a better run in the 2020 tournament than they did during 2016.

England were one of the favourites to win the whole thing just by looking at the raw talent throughout the squad, however they lost out to the underdogs Iceland last time out.

Each position seems to have heavily improved since 2016, especially the spurt of creative players. The only area that does not seem as amazing is the goalkeeper spot.

Both Jordan Pickford and Dean Henderson are not quite world class quality, unfortunately England lost out on Nick Pope to injury too which brought in the likes of Sam Johnstone and Aaron who Ramsdale who did well for their respected clubs, but they were both part of a relegated side.

None of the goalkeepers have exceptional for their jobs, however Pickford has shown his form for England. Additionally, his ability to play out from the back will be a huge asset to how Southgate will want the team to play.

Who wants to be a right back? Clearly a lot of players do now. England have a plethora of fantastic right backs that are battling for the starting spot.

The likes of James, Alexander-Arnold, Walker and Trippier are the main candidates for the spot with the likes of Wan-Bissaka, Cash, Lamptey and Aarons missing out. If there was one spot that England could over pick for, it would the right back slot due to their versatility.

Walker and James allows England to go into a 5 at the back formation as they can be the outer right centre back where they can display strength, tackling and fantastic recovery.

Alexander-Arnold has displayed his exceptional passing ability, which is one of the best in Europe, this showcases that he can be capable of playing higher up the field in either central midfield or on the right wing. After being dropped from the last set of friendlies, he has displayed for his club Liverpool because he should be starting right back.

Everyone seems to forget about Trippier who is out in sunny Spain. However, even after his ban he has displayed incredible numbers which has helped Atlético de Madrid win the La Liga. Trippier is another individual who can play in numerous positions, he shown for England that he can operate as a left back too.

Another position which is filled with excellent talent is the left back slot. Both Shaw and Chillwell are battling out the spot, Shaw has shown to be one of the biggest improvers in the Premier League under Solskjær.

Maguire seems to be the only dead set central defender for England this season, Stones has shown his true form throughout the season but with great help from Rúben Dias.

Stones displayed some of his old performances that is riddled with mistakes during some previous friendlies for England. Aside from his possible mistakes, Stones is the second-best option for England.

Due to Maguire’s injury worries it is important to have another experience figure at the back, the likes of Coady, Keane and Mings can fill in that spot. Both have not had the best of seasons for their clubs, but they do display leadership.

Mings being one of the only top-rated English centre backs that is left footed allows him to boost his way up the pecking order.

Away from the older and experienced defenders, there are many younger ones who have fantastic domestically. Godfrey, Konsa, White and Tomori have all showed brilliant form throughout the season and deserve a chance to be part of the team.

With the extra 3 players that are allowed for registration, there should be one of the younger defenders in the squad to provide an extra option.

Two that could have been in for a shout are Dier and Gomez. Gomez unfortunately misses out due to a long-term injury where as Dier misses out due to bad form, even though Dier was part of the 2018 World Cup squad and showed glimpses at the start of the season, he has not shown anywhere near enough quality to be a part of the national side.

The ideal central midfielder for England

For the upcoming UEFA Euro’s 2020 tournament for the summer of 2021 there is a plethora of central midfield options for England. The list contains players who are not a definite option for England due to their form and injuries throughout the season.

The central midfielders are either offensive, defensive or a combination of both. The list of midfielders will display their strengths and weaknesses to help England choose the best midfielder for the upcoming tournament.

The stats provided are taken from the end of the 2020/21 season to display how well they have done within different parts of their game.

What England have

Gareth Southgate has a wealth of options going forward for England with the likes of Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and the creative midfield options of Phil Foden, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish.

This alone will cause a selection-headache as there is many options to choose from, however the options slightly behind are not as pleasing.

These players can create chances from nothing to help their domestic club and England score goals. These exciting players are extremely important to England if they want to win the major tournaments.

The new batch of the ‘creative player’ coming through the ranks is a result of the England DNA which has been implemented into the clubs to encourage academies to look for and develop a certain type of player.

What England need

It is important for all domestic clubs in England to follow the plan to help develop ‘The Future England Player’. Academies must be rigorous in who they take on and how they are trained. The staff involved must be highly trained and educated to ensure the correct players are coming through.

The foundations must be set to ensure the future is bright. The youth levels building up to the first team must be respected as this is where the players are nurtured, developed and gain experience in competitions.


Declan Rice
Declan Rice is a holding midfielder for West Ham, he can also play slightly ahead in a box-to-box role or play as a ball-playing centre back. At the age of 22, Rice has already been capped by England 15 times.

At 1.85m he poses as an aerial threat when defending and attacking the ball. He provides cover for his defence whilst also being able to bring the ball from deep and start attacks.

Rice’s main strengths are winning the ball, intercepting, leadership and passing. Rice is very comfortable at passing the ball, Declan Rice’s passing statistics per 90 and his pass types per 90.

Rice is a more efficient passer from short range (between 5 and 15 yards) with a 91.2% pass completion compared to his 73.1% for long passing (longer than 30 yards). This displays that Rice’s short passing is extremely efficient. This is a result of him breaking up the play and laying it on to his surrounding team mates to start the counter.

Rice would play a defensive role within England’s midfield. Rice wins a high percentage of his tackles per 90. A rate of 44.1% per 90 shows that he is very confident going in for tackles throughout the game to dispossess the opposition with a high efficiency rate.

As a result, this mean he is hardly dribble past, per 90 Rice is only dribbled past 0.95 times which is phenomenal for someone who plays in the middle of the pitch. Rice’s excellent awareness and positioning allows him to prevent the opposition from dribbling past.


Kalvin Phillips
Kalvin Phillips is currently aged 25 and plays a defensive role in the midfield. Being 1.78m he is still capable of winning aerial duels, but his lower height allows him to be nimbler of the floor to quickly win possession around him.

Phillips did start his career as an out and out box-to-box midfielder however he was converted into a defensive midfielder by Marcelo Bielsa at the start of the 2018-19 season.

Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips are both options for England when it comes to a defensive minded midfielder. Kalvin Phillips puts up might higher defensive numbers compared to what Rice’s are.

Both Phillips and Rice average 1.58 tackles within the defensive 3rd per 90, however Phillips makes 0.23 tackles per 90 in the attacking 3rd per 90 which displays Phillips’s responsibility to press high and win the ball back before the opposition can attack.

This has been added into his game since the employment of Marcelo Bielsa who is a big advocate of high pressing. Even if Phillips does not tackle, he continues to heavily press all over the pitch with an average of 9.39 presses in the defensive 3rd per 90, 11.39 in the middle 3rd per 90 and 2.35 in the attacking 3rd per 90.

Phillip’s ability off the ball is phenomenal, throughout the game he constantly looks to stop the ball going towards the goal. Phillips ranks amongst the highest in the leagues in blocks as he averages 2.19 blocks per 90 which is extremely important in preventing goals being scored.

Phillip looks to pass the ball long (longer than 30 yards) rather than short (between 5 and 15 yards). Phillips only attempts 14.01 short passes per 90 compared to Rice’s 17.55 however he attempts an average of 16.67 long passes per 90 with a completion rate of 71.1%.

This is a result of Leeds’s playstyle as they look to win the ball quick and start counters with balls over the top to quickly catch the opposition’s defence whilst they are out of shape.


Jordan Henderson
The captain of Liverpool is the most capped out of the six players mentioned with a total of 58 caps. The 30-year-old has transformed into a complete leader on and off the pitch for both his national and domestic teams. Standing at 1.87m he provides a strong and tall presence in the middle of the pitch.

Henderson operates in central midfield however he has had to cover in defensive midfield and centre back too due to injuries and his versatility. Henderson’s position in the national side has taken a setback due to his injuries obtained throughout the season, he is currently recovering from a groin injury which was during the 2-0 loss to Everton on 20/02/2021.

Jordan primary role is to the be the engine in midfield, he is part of a 3-man midfield which looks to keep possession on the ball and heavily press off the ball. He has one of the highest average of touches per 90 with a total of 97.10 which displays how confident he is receiving the ball to then either pass it on or dribble with it.

Henderson can carry the ball forward into the oppositions half to either pass the ball on to an attacker or take the shot on himself, he ranks as one of the highest ball carriers in the league. Henderson averages 66.01 carries per 90 whilst covering an average of 375.40 yards per 90. His stamina allows him to do this throughout the game, this is vital to his team during the latter phases of the game when the opposition begins to tire.

A huge asset to Henderson’s game is his ability to pass with both feet, he attempts 11.49 passes per 90 with his left foot, 73.75 passes with his right foot per 90 and 3.24 passes with his head per 90. His ability to pass with both feet allows him to quickly release the ball.

Jordan Henderson spot in the England side would always be a guarantee because of his footballing ability and leadership however his injury may prevent him from taking part.

His focus for his action plan is to focus on his recovery to be able to return in time as he would play an important role in the England side, even if he is not fully fit, he could still play a vital role for England during the competition as he is an important figure off the pitch too.


Jude Bellingham
If Bellingham joins up with the England team, then he may possibly be the youngest one there. The 1.83m tall 17-year-old is an exceptional young talent who has so much to his game. His number ‘22’ is based on his ability to play as a ‘4’, ‘8’ and a ‘10’ which displays his immense versatility in midfield.

He is one of the few players playing abroad which displays amazing adaptability especially at such a young age.

As of 20/05/2021, Bellingham has played a total of 45 games for his domestic club Borussia Dortmund where he played defensive midfield, central midfield, attacking midfield and even out wide too.

He is one of the few who can provide high defensive and attacking numbers. Bellingham ranks one of the highest for shots taken for midfielders with an average of 1.62 per 90 however he has only scored once for his club in the league.

Bellingham has an eye for goal at any distance, he can enter the box late but also likes to take on shots from distance, his average shot distance per 90 is 18.20 which is just on the edge of the box.

Bellingham’s defensive stats rank highest in the league for midfielders. He averages 3 tackles per 90, 22.98 pressures per 90 and 2.43 blocks per game. Not only does he provide a lot of attacking options but also a large of defensive cover too.

His ability to cover ground all over the pitch allows him to constantly hover around the ball and support his team whilst transitioning from defence to attack.


James Ward-Prowse
James Ward-Prowse is one of the very few who has played for just one club during their career. He has matured into an extremely confident footballer; he is now captain for Southampton and has constantly pushed them above expectations. He has only been capped 6 times, but he has scored a goal for England unlike a lot of the others.

Ward-Prowse provides something different from everyone else, which is his ability on set-pieces. He has an extraordinary technique when taking free-kicks and corners which allows to pick up a lot of goal contributions.

James Ward-Prowse is one of the most efficient free kick takers in Europe. he averages 0.59 free kick attempts per 90. For the 2020/21 he has currently scored 4 free kicks, he has currently scored 10 free kicks during his whole Premier League career which is only 8 behind the prolific David Beckham.

Aside from free kicks, he also averages a percentage of 45.6 for shots on target per 90 which is extremely efficient.

Another set piece which Ward-Prowse is great at is corners, he can produce different types of corners such as in swinging, out swinging and straight. He is amongst the highest corner takers in the league, he averages 2.07 in swinging corners per 90, 2.17 out swinging per 90 and 0.26 straight corners. He has picked up 4 out of his 7 assists from corner kicks.


James Maddison
James Maddison is another individual whose season has been hampered by injuries, his form this season made him look set to have a place in the England side however he obtained an injury just before the international break which prevented him from showcasing his abilities in the friendlies.

He possesses the versatility of playing as a central midfielder, attacking midfielder and out wide on the left. Maddison has constantly looked to improve his game year in year out by boosting his goal contributions.

In 30 league games this year, he has scored 8 and assisted 7. Maddison has scored 3 goals this season from outside of the box. Maddison takes on a lot of shots per 90 with an average of 3.42.

Maddison has a wide range of passes in his locker, he can play the ball high and low. He averages 33.9 ground passes per 90, 6.18 low passes (passes that leave the ground but are below shoulder height) per 90 and 9.74 high passes (passes that are above shoulder height) per 90.

Leicester is very similar to how Leeds attack as they both look to win the ball quick and start counters, therefore Maddison’s ability to play the ball in different ways allow them to score a lot of goals on the attack.



Not only is the midfield stacked with amazing options, but so is the attack. Kane will undoubtedly lead the line for England as he has proven to be one of the best strikers in the world. However, there is large competitions for the spot behind him.

Calvert-Lewin, Watkins, Ings and Bamford have been outstanding for their clubs. There is also the option of playing Greenwood, Rashford and even Sterling down the middle if needs be. These 3 wide players can provide a great attacking threat alongside Sancho, Saka, Grealish, Foden and Lingard. Southgate has favoured the 5 at the back in recent times which is a shame as it prevents the number of creative players in the squad.

England have a vast number of high-quality players throughout the squad, and I believe this to the best the strongest side in which Southgate could choose. The likes of Grealish and Sancho could easily start too, however it is important to have the right mixture of pace and creativity.

If it is changed to a 5 at the back formation, then the likes of Walker could fill in as the additional centre-back in place for Henderson is lacking match fitness. Therefore, a double pivot of Mount and Rice would be amazing to see.



The England side looks extremely promising and has an excellent chance of progressing through their group which involves Scotland, Croatia, and Czech Republic. If they can play to their strengths, they have a great opportunity to win the tournament for the first time.

However, the biggest issue for England is the sheer brilliance of other nations of the amazing squad depth. France, Portugal, Germany, and others will be extremely hard to beat throughout.

Anyway… it’s coming home.

Write by George Trewin [email protected] - @ofgeorgetrewin - twitch


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