England will host Malta in the qualifiers for Euro 2024, on November 17 at Wembley Stadium. The Three Lions can mathematically win the group with a draw or a win, whilst Malta sit rock bottom on zero points. Last Word on Football provides our predicted lineup for this match.
England Predicted Lineup vs Malta in Their Race for Top Spot
The #ThreeLions have been out at training this morning for the final time at St. George's Park this year 👊@TrentAA will join Gareth Southgate later today for our pre-Malta media conference. pic.twitter.com/t1mec0cLiE
— England (@England) November 16, 2023
How England Have Lined-up Recently
Jordan Pickford has started all of England’s recent competitive fixtures in goal. Aaron Ramsdale and Sam Johnstone have both started friendlies within the past two international breaks.
Gareth Southgate’s preferred right-back has been Kyle Walker, who is in great form for Manchester City. Kieran Trippier has played at left-back with Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell injured. At centre-half, Harry Maguire and Lewis Dunk have been the most regular starters – yet not alongside each other. John Stones and Marc Guehi have also made appearances, with the manager starting four different combinations in the last four games.
In midfield, Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice have been prominent, especially in qualifying matches. The third midfield spot, playing alongside Rice in a defensive capacity, has been rotated between Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips.
Harry Kane is the obvious choice for striker, having scored 17 goals in the Bundesliga already. Ollie Watkins is the second choice, enjoying minutes in friendly matches. On the wings, choice is abundant, but Marcus Rashford (left) and Bukayo Saka (right) are top of the list. Phil Foden and James Maddison are suitable replacements when rotation is required.
England Recent Form and Tactics
Tactically, Southgate has used a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 interchangeably. The formations are very similar in nature, but it appears that the latter produces a lot more attacking threat. It allows Bellingham to play as a number 10, as he has for Real Madrid this season: scoring 13 times in 14 games for Los Blancos. With both Bellingham and Maddison injured, it seems likely that the 53-year-old will revert to the 4-3-3.
England’s full-backs have moved further up the pitch in possession, whilst the wingers play in a more inverted role. Rice drops deep to accommodate this, providing a passing option for the centre-backs. The attacking role of these full-backs is shown by Walker grabbing a goal and an assist in the September break.
Read More: Declan Rice Absence Exposes Arsenal Flaw
Form has been hot for the Three Lions, winning seven of their last eight. This includes a crucial six points over top spot competitors, Italy, and a win over Ukraine who currently sit second. Bellingham’s recent performance against the Italians was one of class, producing hope for the nation.
A 3-1 win over Italy will give the English a sense of revenge, especially as the match took place in the very same venue where they lost the Euro 2020 final. That result could lead to Italy’s failure to qualify for the 2024 competition, as they will do should they lose to Ukraine on Monday. The performance was a confident one with three big chances for England and just one for their opposition – a fair reflection of the scoreline.
England Injuries to Consider
A shoulder injury to Bellingham is the biggest concern, with the “world-class” midfielder withdrawing from the squad to continue rehabilitation in Madrid. Whilst Carlo Ancelotti expects him to return “after the international break”, it will be hard for Southgate to plan and experiment without a key player who will certainly be starting in the summer.
First and second-choice left-backs, Shaw and Chilwell, remain out. This will be greatly frustrating as the pair will be featuring at the European Championships. Not only will this impact their own familiarity with the system, but playing with a right-footed left-back (Trippier) will certainly disrupt the tactical development of the rest of the squad.
Maddison and Dunk were also forced to withdraw with injuries, whilst Stones is “out for a while”. The Tottenham midfielder is out until the New Year, and Brighton’s captain may potentially return after the break. The trio have been performing well this season, Maddison in particular managing eight goal involvements and proving to be one of the signings of the summer.
England Predicted Lineup
Sam Johnstone, Rico Lewis, Marc Guehi, Fikayo Tomori, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice, Connor Gallagher, Phil Foden, Ollie Watkins, Jarrod Bowen.
England play North Macedonia on Monday. This makes it difficult to predict whether Southgate will play a rotated side against Malta (weaker opposition) or against North Macedonia, once first place in the group is confirmed.