In defense Southgate’s team often line up 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1 with Mount playing as high as Kane. Pressing is high and quite risky, so the extra task for the fast fullbacks is to secure the central defenders. The midfield is quite compact and tight, but they leave a lot of space for their rivals on the wings.
England construct their actions from the back quite slowly and very carefully using plenty of safe passing options at the expense of progress forward, but this is done with a very high rotation.
The rotations involve not only the flanks, where the wingers go deeper to get the ball, but also in the middle, where all central midfielders are tasked with going higher and crossing the lines into more offensive positions.
Central midfielders (Mount, Rice, Phillips) are responsible for vary the tempo of the game and find options to play out the action, although it is the left wing (Sterling, Shaw, Grealish) that has a fairly obvious advantage over the right wing.
In the offensive third speed of play is the priority, hence the large number of first-touch combinations, small space play and free-space passes to flank from where a return pass usually goes into the front of the box to running partners. There are not many crosses.
Although it is Harry Kane who plays a key role in moving the game into the offensive third, the key for the English offense is the rotations on the flanks.
Moving from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-3 formation Southgate positions an extra player at the back which not only deepens the ball playing zone and increases passing options in the middle, but also frees up the wings.
In this variant the extra midfielder actively supports the offensive action but is also the first presser in the middle of the field when the ball is lost, which with the wingers slightly deeper gives us an unusual 5-4-1 in defense.
This system also allows Southgate to make a fluid transition from 4 to 3 defenders by having the 10 (Mount or Grealish) often act as a third midfielder playing higher up in the formation. Right WB is then moved into the role of right winger.
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Discussion: Gareth Southgate England World Cup Tactics
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