Gareth Southgate has admitted that Germany’s prowess going forward has forced him to change England’s formation for their last-16 showdown at Wembley.
The England boss had played with a back four for the first three games of the tournament, but has switched back to the shape that led to so much success in the 2018 World Cup.
The Three Lions have registered a trio of clean sheets in their group clashes, but will match up against Germany, who will play a similar shape with wing-backs.
Luke Shaw and Kieran Trippier are the two trusted to play on the flanks, while Kyle Walker will move inside to play as one of three centre-backs.
Germany had great joy against Portugal in the group stages, when Fernando Santos opted to not match them, losing 4-2.
On the decision to change shape, Southgate said: “The teams Germany have already played have had big problems with he overload of their wingbacks.
“We’ve got to deal with that but we’ve also got to cause them problems with our system.
“Our focus has been as much with the ball as it has been without it this week, but we did know that tactical problem in our defending third of the field is one we had to resolve.”
Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice retain their place in midfield, despite Jordan Henderson edging closer to full fitness.
Going forward, it’s Jack Grealish that has been sacrificed for the extra defender as Bukayo Saka’s man of the match display against Czech Republic is enough to keep him in the XI.
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Southgate added that Saka’s impressive showing against Czechs was the deciding factor in him retaining his place.
“There’s a bit of what he did in the last game, the games we’ve seen, the training that we’ve seen,” he continued.
“I think speed is important today, speed in behind Germany’s defence is something we think we’ve got, and our movement up front has got to be good enough to move their defenders around a bit.”
Harry Kane is yet to open his account in the tournament, but did have great success playing in a 3-4-3 formation three years ago, picking up the Golden Boot at the World Cup in Russia.
Asked whether it would be a big change for his team to switch formations, the England skipper told the BBC: “We’ve played it a lot with the players amongst this team. We’ve chopped and changed over the last few years anyway.
“Each game you have to look at the opposition and see what suits best and hopefully we can exploit some of their weaknesses.”
And despite his patchy form so far in Euro 2020, Kane is confident he is close to find his goalscoring touch.
He added: “This is the business end of the tournament now, the knockout stage. I feel good, I feel ready – but the most important thing is going out there and showing it in front of everyone.”
England XI vs Germany (3-4-3): Pickford; Maguire, Stones, Walker; Trippier, Phillips, Rice, Shaw; Sterling, Kane, Saka.