Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Predicted England XI for Euro 2024 opener against Serbia

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England kick off their Euro 2024 campaign against Serbia on Sunday in a position of unfamiliarity.

The Three Lions have been rewarded with the tagline of bookies favourites to win the competition as reward for a golden generation of footballing talent.

England’s mood after the Iceland defeat will be lifted by their new homeCredit: Getty

Boss Gareth Southgate is expected to steer his side over the line in Germany after falling short in the final at Wembley three years ago.

With a squad packed full of young talent much of the discourse in recent days has been around the players Southgate has left behind ahead of the tournament.

Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford are two of the big names to have been axed from the squad while eyebrows were raised at the omission of James Maddison and Everton starlet Jarrad Branthwaite.

England’s youthful 26-man squad arrived in Germany on Monday night ready for the challenge of winning a first ever European Championship.

But before thoughts turn to a second-successive final in Berlin on July 14, the Three Lions face a tough group with dark horses Serbia up first before meetings with Denmark and Slovenia.

Ahead of Sunday’s opener, we predict England’s starting XI to take on Serbia in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday.

Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford

The Everton shot-stopper is England’s undisputed number one and a shoe-in to start against Serbia. The 30-year-old will play in his fourth-consecutive major tournament with England having been thrust into the senior squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Right back: Kyle Walker

The Manchester City full-back will be a key component of Southgate’s backline in Germany. His inclusion could see him utilised at centre-back at times with England light in central defence. Walker’s experience will be vital for Southgate, particularly if England go deep in the competition.

John Stones is expected to feature in Sunday’s game despite having picked up an injury against IcelandCredit: Getty

Centre-backs: John Stones and Marc Guehi

Doubts remain over the fitness of Stones who was replaced at half time of England’s 1-0 defeat to Iceland on Friday. Brighton’s Lewis Dunk will be on standby should Stones be deemed unfit to start the match.

Meanwhile, Guehi will get his first taste of senior tournament football but will need to show he is more than a match for a tall and physical Serbia outfit. 

Kieran Trippier should fill in for Luke Shaw at left-back with the latter recovering from an injuryCredit: Getty

Left back: Kieran Trippier

The Newcastle star has had an indifferent season but his experience of tournament football will be a huge bonus for the Three Lions. 

Trippier is likely to fill in for Luke Shaw who continues his recovery from injury. Shaw, who has not played a competitive match since February 18, has made the squad but England legend Stuart Pearce believes his unavailability is a problem for Southgate.

Gabby Agbonlahor picks his ‘dream’ England starting XI at Euro 2024

“I’ve been saying for months, if Luke doesn’t make it we’ve got a big problem because he gives us natural balance defensively but he gives us balance going forward as well,” Pearce told talkSPORT. He is so vital to us. 

“The question is, if he’s fit for the second game would you put him in? The other side to that is if you don’t, where is he going to get his fitness from for the knockout stages?”

Jude Bellingham and Trent Alexander-Arnold will play central rolesCredit: Getty
Arsenal star Declan Rice will make up a workmanlike Three Lions midfieldCredit: Getty

Midfield: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham

For many, it represents the dream midfield trio. Bellingham has joined up with the Three Lions following his heroics in helping guide Real Madrid to Champions League glory earlier this month.

Declan Rice has enjoyed a superb season with Arsenal and is expected to take up a deeper role alongside Alexander-Arnold with Bellingham starting out in a more advanced position.

Despite playing the majority of the season as right-back under Jurgen Klopp, Alexander-Arnold is expected to influence the game from midfield with his range of passing and composure in possession.

Reports on Monday claim the Liverpool star is set to start in midfield on Sunday, something Pearce feels would be a logical move.

“You have to have someone with a range of passing that can unlock a defence from distance and he can do that,” he added. “It would surprise me if he started [at right-back] for that reason.”

Cole Palmer should deputise if Bukayo Saka fails to recover from a knockCredit: Getty
Kane and Foden have been tipped to star at this summer’s tournamentCredit: Getty

Attack: Phil Foden, Cole Palmer, Harry Kane

Much will be expected of England skipper Kane who will be playing in a familiar surroundings after his move to Bayern Munich last summer. 

England’s all-time leading scorer will be joined by Premier League Player of the Year Foden, who is yet to replicate his club form at international level.

Chelsea star Palmer should deputise for Bukayo Saka should the Arsenal man continue to struggle with fitness.

Saka, who has scooped England’s Player of the Year award for the past two seasons did not start either of the tune-up games against Bosnia and Iceland but concerns remain over his availability for Sunday’s clash.

All of England’s Euro 2024 games will be live on talkSPORT, starting with the opener against Serbia on Sunday.

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