Yesterday, England beat Germany at Wembley which was the first time England had beaten their historic rivals since the World Cup final in 1966. England fans were especially pessimistic for this game especially after seeing the starting 11.
However, I will explain in this article how Southgate’s choice to match Germany’s 3-4-3 was the best choice he could have made and hence, why we need to have more faith in Southgate and his starting 11s in the future.
Southgate started the game in a shape which he had not previously played in this tournament. He chose to go with a 3-4-3 with him choosing to play Shaw, Trippier and Walker. Shaw and Trippier were the wing backs in this game while Walker was playing as a wide centre back in the back 3.
So, what was it about Germany then that forced this change? Well, this question can be answered by looking at their game vs Portugal. Germany’s 3-4-3 gives defenses an ultimatum. The opposition winger can choose to go and track back and follow Germany’s wingback’s run which will leave plenty of space in the middle third of the pitch for a centre back to step into or, the winger can choose to leave the wingback to roam forward which then means that Germany has a numerical advantage in wide areas. We can see this in this example of Germany’s first goal vs Portugal.
We can see Semedo is having to tuck in to follow the run of Gnabry which leaves space for Gosens to cross the ball and Germany score. Therefore, the usual 4-3-3 of Southgate’s England would have suffered from the same issues which forced Southgate’s hand and made him change.
The 3-4-3 allows these overloads to not even have a chance to materialise as it “matches up” two wing backs against each other. This prevents overloads on the wings as Germany’s full back would always be able to be marked by someone like Shaw or Trippier and there is no chance of the centre back easily stepping into midfield as the front 3 can easily press the back 3 that is left behind. Therefore this denial of overloads means that this formation is much less effective than it is intended to be which explains why Germany created so few chances against England in comparison to the game vs Portugal.
In my eyes, this one game shows that Southgate has much more tactical knowledge than people give him credit for and despite the fact that people had their doubts when seeing the starting 11, the plan worked. International coaches are mostly results orientated. Southgate has been amazing at getting England to a point where they could get deep into another international tournament. What more can we ask for? Entertaining football will only take you so far; effective football wins tournaments. It’s time for us to trust Southgate to lead us through this tournament.