Have England Changed Since Euro 2020 - And Do They Need To?

Gareth Southgate's England face Italy in their first Euro 2024 qualifier on Thursday night
08:00, 23 Mar 2023

England’s penalty shootout defeat against Italy at Wembley is still fresh in the memory. For many of us, it feels like the closest the Three Lions will ever come to silverware in our lifetime. A missed opportunity on home soil. 

Since that day in the summer of 2021, Italy have missed yet another World Cup while England faced more agony from 12 yards as Harry Kane’s late miss against France saw them crash out at the quarter-final stage. 

Of the 26-man squad that reached the final, seven have been dropped from Gareth Southgate’s most recent squad before the likes of Marcus Rashford withdrew due to injury. Goalkeeper Nick Pope is rightfully in contention now and has taken Dean Henderson’s spot, while Tyrone Mings, Conor Coady, Jadon Sancho and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have all suffered as a result of poor form or injury. 


England squad changes since Euro 2020:

Dean Henderson out, Nick Pope in

Tyrone Mings out, Eric Dier in

Conor Coady out, Marc Guehi in

Ben White out, Conor Gallagher in

Jadon Sancho out, James Maddison in

Dominic Calvert-Lewin out, Ivan Toney in

Raheem Sterling out, no replacement selected

But England’s style of play has developed under Southgate. In 2018, they played a defensive 5-3-2 system that focused on set pieces and containing teams. By 2020, the five at the back system was still used in big games such as the final, but the wing-backs were far more adventurous, and there was a front three used featuring Mason Mount, with Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice the duo in midfield. 

By the 2022 World Cup, Southgate had moved to a more aggressive 4-3-3. Jude Bellingham had emerged as a star, as had Bukayo Saka, while Phil Foden was included on the left-hand side for the majority of the tournament. There’s no doubt for all the stick he gets, Southgate has made England a more confident and more attacking side.

Against France, the Three Lions were unfortunate to lose. England posted an xG of 2.55 in comparison to France’s 1.21 and even if you remove Kane’s missed penalty from the equation, they still should have won the match based on opportunities created. It is just one of those things that happens in football.

It’s why Southgate’s decision to stay on is the right one. The team is progressing and can now go toe-to-toe with Europe’s top sides. England played five at the back on just two occasions at the Euros: in the last 16 against Germany and the final vs Italy. Southgate stuck to his guns at the World Cup and was brave in picking a back four throughout, even if it didn’t end the way he wanted. 

The Nations League was damaging to his reputation in 2022 as England were relegated, but a win over Italy will silence the sceptics. These are the matches the Three Lions need to win to prove they can win Euro 2024 when they travel to Germany next summer, qualification pending. Looking at the limited changes made to the squad, you can understand why some people believe Southgate has his favourites. But this is just a result of what happens when you experience positive results and performances with a group of players.

Clearly players such as Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips would benefit from regular club football but continuity is key. England are on the path to major tournament success.

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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