Report: England to play 3-man backline at World Cup

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England National Team fans better get used to seeing their team use a three-man backline because it’s here to stay.

That’s according to a report from the Telegraph, which states that Southgate will use a three-man defense as part of his preferred formation for November’s friendly matches against Brazil and Germany as a way to build the team’s identity ahead of next summer’s World Cup in Russia.

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“We have to focus on a system and really try to hone it, work on it, improve it, that might mean we might have to leave some good players out. But we have to start to make those decisions over the next couple of camps,” Southgate said after England’s 1-0 win over Lithuania.

In the past, England has been criticized for not having an identity, for playing a bland style of soccer with the hopes of individual moments of brilliance taking them forward. While some may criticize the use of a three-man backline, it does allow England to release wingbacks Danny Rose and Kyle Walker farther up the field, as well as give John Stones more cover at centerback.

“For me, in terms of the way we’d want to play from the back, I think it (a three-man defense) is a better option,” Southgate said. “At the moment we turn the ball over too much and when we do we split into two centre-backs wide open, we are still open (against Lithuania) with three. So we will benefit if we don’t keep turning the ball over.”

The decision is a change, or evolution, from the 4-2-3-1 formation used by Southgate through most of the qualifying campaign, but with a changed formation, it could lead to some attackers not getting a chance to start, whether it’s Marcus Rashford or Jamie Vardy.

According to the report, Southgate’s preferred attackers behind Harry Kane include Dele Alli and when fit, Adam Lallana, to play in a similar way to Tottenham, with Lallana playing in Christian Eriksen‘s role.