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Denmark national football team
European Championship | Group Stage
Jun 20, 2024 at 5pm UK
Deutsche Bank Park (Frankfurt am Main)
England national football team

1 - 1

Hjulmand (34')
Vestergaard (27'), Maehle (73'), Norgaard (87')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Kane (18')
Gallagher (61')

England at Euro 2024: Foden, Walker out - changes Southgate should make vs Denmark

Drop Foden, Walker - changes England must make against Denmark at Euro 2024
© Reuters
Sports Mole looks at what changes Gareth Southgate should make for England's clash on Thursday against Denmark in Group C in Euro 2024

England, like most other favourites across matchday one of Euro 2024, began their campaign in winning fashion on Sunday night with a narrow 1-0 victory over Serbia - although you would not necessarily know it by the reaction.

After a bright start to the contest, during which Jude Bellingham propelled England in front with what proved to be the only goal of the game, Gareth Southgate's men faded somewhat as the match went on, leading to criticism of their all-round performance despite taking maximum points.

Preparations for match two against Euro 2020 semi-finalists Denmark on Thursday are now well underway, with possible changes being mooted as fans urge Southgate to unleash England's full attacking potential.

To do so, Southgate must make several changes to the side that narrowly defeated Serbia - including starting Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back and dropping Phil Foden for Anthony Gordon.

England's Trent Alexander-Arnold in action on June 16, 2024© Reuters

The talent at Southgate's disposal is undeniable but at the same time means he will have to make controversial selection choices, and given Alexander-Arnold's unique in-possession skillset, it would be a waste of his talents to not keep him in the starting XI.

However, if England are to take full advantage of his passing range then starting him at right-back ahead of Kyle Walker would be optimal, especially as he has very minimal experience starting in midfield.

Additionally, while there can be no doubt that Foden is a supremely gifted footballer, who had the best season of his career in 2023-24, the Three Lions would benefit more from Alexander-Arnold's passing if they had an outlet in the forward line who could offer a direct threat with runs behind opposition defences.

In order to avoid the perils of past England squads overloaded with talent, it might be necessary to sacrifice the likes of Foden, Walker and others in order to maximise the current side's potential in Euro 2024.

England's lacklustre Serbia display

England's Jude Bellingham celebrates scoring against Serbia on June 16, 2024© Reuters

Jude Bellingham's winner against Serbia on Sunday saw Gareth Southgate's side go top of Group C, but many fans were disappointed with England's display, particularly as the team increasingly ceded territory and possession to their opponents as time ticked on.

Indeed, the likes of Harry Kane, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Phil Foden all came in for criticism from commentators, with many lamenting the fact that these objectively world-class players were unable to showcase the best of their ability.

Right-back turned left-back Kieran Trippier also disappointed, with the Newcastle United vice-captain struggling to influence proceedings.

This has led to a demand for changes to the side ahead of England's clash with Denmark on Thursday, but doing so presents Southgate with a number of selection dilemmas that could lead to unpopular decisions.

Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, Joe Gomez at left-back

Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates scoring for England on June 3, 2024© Reuters

Liverpool's vice-captain Trent Alexander-Arnold has proven at club level that he is one of the world's best right-backs, winning the Premier League and Champions League in his trophy-laden time on Merseyside.

Internationally, however, the defender missed the Euro 2020 campaign through injury and has only played 112 minutes for England during World Cups.

Despite starting most recently in midfield alongside Declan Rice against Serbia, his performance was not particularly noteworthy and highlighted once again that although many see Alexander-Arnold as a midfielder, he produces his best work as a right-back.

At Liverpool, where the Englishman occupies the right side of defence, he is able to receive passes in deeper and wider zones from which he can create chances, and although he has inverted into midfield from right-back under Jurgen Klopp, he has not been permanently deployed in a midfield position.

Against Serbia he failed to create a single chance, a surprising statistic considering that in the 2023-24 Premier League season he created one every 34 minutes.

This strengthens the argument that he is far more effective as a right-back and should be used as such going forward.

Alexander-Arnold's unique abilities warrant a starting spot in Southgate's side against Denmark, but this would entail dropping veteran Kyle Walker, who many value for his defensive attributes.

England's Kyle Walker in action on June 16, 2024© Reuters

However, Walker has struggled defensively at times over the past season for Manchester City, and his ability on the ball is not comparable to his Liverpool counterpart.

Additionally, if England were to start Alexander-Arnold at right-back rather than in midfield, then they could still allow him to drift into central areas just as he has done for Liverpool.

Furthermore, against Denmark's narrow midfield and attack, England could benefit from having a wide creator in the backline as it would give them the platform to spring direct and dangerous counter-attacks when they win possession.

Having said that, some of the criticism regarding the Liverpool right-back's defensive frailties are valid, and it could be an area that the likes of Rasmus Hojlund, Victor Kristiansen and Christian Eriksen look to exploit.

To compensate for this, Southgate should opt to use a more defensively secure left-back such as Joe Gomez so that England can form a back three in possession, while also tasking Marc Guehi to cover the space behind Alexander-Arnold just as Ibrahima Konate does at Liverpool.

Though this would mean dropping Walker and Trippier from the starting lineup, the benefit of maximising Alexander-Arnold's game-changing abilities would far outweigh the potential downside of benching two England veterans.

Adam Wharton to be handed competitive start in midfield

Adam Wharton in action for England in June 2024© Reuters

If Southgate were to put Alexander-Arnold at right-back, then this would leave a spot open in midfield.

Crystal Palace's emerging star Adam Wharton would be ideal for this position as his skillset lends itself well to possession-oriented football, and he is at present more defensively robust than Kobbie Mainoo.

For instance, though Wharton might not be as expansive as Alexander-Arnold, his press resistance, ability to receive passes from the backline and quick thinking would allow England to play through Denmark's press.

In addition to this, playing Wharton alongside Rice would allow the Gunners midfielder to play in a box-to-box role similar to the one he played at Arsenal when Jorginho came into the side.

Indeed, at Arsenal Rice excelled playing somewhat more advanced, and if he was provided with the same level of freedom at international level there is every chance that his immense physicality could disrupt the Danes' defensive shape when he bursts into the final third.

Wharton's place in the team could also be vital in the latter stages of the tournament, particularly as his on-ball qualities may be needed against the high-level midfielders that nations such as France and Germany have at their disposal.

Drop Phil Foden for the benefit of the team

England Phil Foden pictured on June 16, 2024 [IMAGO]© Imago

The first thing to mention is that Phil Foden is an outstanding player and the suggestion that he should be dropped against Denmark has nothing to do with his quality.

However, if England were to play with a more defensively minded left-back such as Gomez then it would be imperative to have a genuine outlet capable of holding width on the left flank.

Foden is not particularly comfortable on the left, and to compensate for this Southgate allowed him to drift into central zones against Serbia while Trippier attacked down the left-hand side instead.

This enabled Foden to become more involved in play alongside Jude Bellingham, but the downside to this was that the likes of Kane and Alexander-Arnold, two of the world's best ranged passers, had no real outlet or runner to play towards.

Trippier did his best to provide width but his lack of pace meant neither of the two aforementioned players could truly threaten the Serbian defence with their passing, evidenced by the fact that neither registered a key pass on Sunday night.

Indeed, Kane thrived at Tottenham Hotspur when dropping deep and playing diagonals towards Son Heung-min, who started on the left, while Alexander-Arnold has always enjoyed switching play to one of Sadio Mane, Luis Diaz or Andrew Robertson in his time at Liverpool.

Marcus Rashford, even in spite of his poor club form, would have been beneficial to have in the squad as his pace could have helped to maximise England's excellent passers, but Anthony Gordon has similar attributes and would provide the Three Lions with a genuine outlet on the left.

If England were to field a front three of Gordon, Kane and Bukayo Saka against Denmark, it would give more balance to their attack and allow others like Alexander-Arnold to influence the game more significantly by playing passes beyond the Danish defence.

England could win the tournament with these changes

England head coach Gareth Southgate on June 16, 2024© Reuters

Only France can boast a squad as talented as England's, but Southgate will find it difficult to lead his side to victory in Euro 2024 without making difficult choices in regard to his team selection.

Against Denmark, England have the opportunity to show significant improvement from Sunday's outing, but they must field a more balanced XI in order to do so, even if this means replacing talented players such as Foden, Trippier and Walker.

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Tables header RHS

Group A

Q Germany Germany32107
Q Switzerland Switzerland31205
3 Hungary Hungary31023
4 Scotland flag Scotland30121

Group B

Q Spain Spain33009
Q Italy Italy31114
3 Croatia Croatia30212
4 Albania national flag Albania30121

Group C

Q England flag England31205
Q Denmark Denmark30303
Q Slovenia Slovenia30303
4 Serbia Serbia30212

Group D

Q Austria Austria32016
Q France France31205
Q Netherlands Netherlands31114
4 Poland Poland30121

Group E

Q Romania Romania31114
Q Belgium Belgium31114
Q Slovakia Slovakia31114
4 Ukraine Ukraine31114

Group F

Q Portugal Portugal32016
Q Turkey Turkey32016
Q Georgia Georgia31114
4 Czech Republic Czech Republic30121

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