England see off Romania
England’s preparations for Euro 2020 continued on Sunday evening with a friendly clash vs Romania.
The Three Lions had already seen off Austria with a much-changed squad earlier in the week and it was still something of an unusual starting line-up on Sunday.
The likes of Jordan Pickford, Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice and Harry Kane began the day on the bench, whilst Sam Johnstone, Ben White and Ben Godfrey were handed their first-ever starts for England.
— England (@England) June 6, 2021
The game overall was pretty dull, but England would eventually take the lead through Marcus Rashford with just over 20 minutes left.
Now, 101 have picked out five things we learned from England’s win on Sunday.
Tyrone Mings is likely to start vs Croatia
A few months back it seemed pretty obvious that Harry Maguire and John Stones would be England’s main centre-back pairing this summer.
Both have had solid seasons for their country and have played alongside one another for England previously, including at the 2018 World Cup.
However, Maguire recently suffered an injury for Manchester United and, despite being included in the 26-man squad, seems unlikely to be fit to face Croatia, especially given he has played no role in England’s two friendlies this week.
So, we look set to see a new centre-back pairing formed vs Croatia in a weeks time.
Stones appears to be a nailed-on starter no matter what formation the Three Lions opt for.
Who plays alongside him, however, looked to be up for grabs. In a back-three Kyle Walker will likely take the right-centre-back spot, with Stones through the middle.
But given Harry Maguire normally played in the left-centre-back spot, a new face will need to be brought in.
And judging from what we saw in England’s last two games, that spot will be taken up by Tyrone Mings.
The Aston Villa man is England’s only left-footed defender and he has started at Left Centre-Back in both friendlies.
Whether or not Mings and Stones are good enough to help see England into the latter stages of the Euros remains to be seen of course.
James Ward-Prowse should take Trent Alexander-Arnold’s place
Sunday’s game was a good chance for Gareth Southgate to decide who should take the place of the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold in the 26-man squad.
Ben White, Ben Godfrey and James Ward-Prowse started the match no doubt hoping to impress enough to earn that place.
And, for the most part, it was the latter of that trio who shone against Romania.
One of Trent’s biggest strengths is his ability from set pieces. And given this is something Southgate puts a big focus on at tournaments, it make sense for Ward-Prowse to replace TAA.
The Southampton man had a solid game in the middle of the park, and was once again lethal from dead-ball situations, including 20 minutes in when his free-kick from deep in the Romania half led to Dominic Calvert-Lewin smashing a header off the crossbar.
So close to the opener! 😲
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) June 6, 2021
Ward-Prowse also produced another superb free-kick a minute into the second 45 which Calvert-Lewin nearly got on the end of.
Jack Grealish is England’s wildcard and has to start every game
Jack Grealish was one of the few England players to be handed starts vs both Austria and Romania. In both games, though, Grealish was one of England’s brighter sparks.
The Villa man was deployed in a central attacking midfield role.
However, he spent much of Sunday drifting all over pitch and popping up in little pockets of space, proving a nightmare for opposition defenders who once again spent much of the game hacking at his legs.
And whilst England’s attack was fairly stale in both ties, Grealish’s ability to run at players and his creativity made him the Three Lions’ biggest threat, which included him winning the penalty Rashford scored to put England 1-0 up.
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) June 6, 2021
Southgate may not have played Grealish much in the past, but this week has shown that he is one of the few English players who can create something from nothing. He adds a completely different dimension to England’s attack and he needs to start every game.
Centre-back is England’s weakest position
This is hardly going to come as shock to regular watches of England, but it was once again apparent vs Romania that centre-back remains their weakest position.
Maguire’s absence has exposed even further just what a lack of quality England have in that area at present.
Ben White did a decent job on his full debut, but he currently is not selected for the 26-man squad.
This, as already discussed, points towards a Mings-Stones partnership vs Croatia. And, if Sunday’s showing is anything to go by, that pairing will be torn apart by sides with quality attackers.
England looked particularly weak down the left with gaps often appearing between Mings and Luke Shaw.
And, if Maguire continues to remain sidelined, it is really hard to see England making it past the Round of 16 this summer.
Sam Johnstone stakes claim to be England’s no.2
At Euro 2020 it looks almost nailed on that Jordan Pickford will be starting for England.
Despite his up and down showings for Everton, he has remained as their no.1 and Southgate clearly has a lot of faith in him.
But behind Pickford, who would be England’s no.2 at the tournament was up in the air with Nick Pope out injured.
Sunday’s game, however, very much pointed towards Sam Johnstone taking that spot over Manchester United’s Dean Henderson.
The West Brom star played all 90 minutes on Sunday and made a number of solid saves.