Stones Optimistic England Will Adapt Seamlessly to Back Three Ahead of Quarter-Final Against Switzerland

John Stones is confident that England can smoothly transition to a back three formation if Gareth Southgate decides to make the tactical switch for Saturday’s quarter-final against Switzerland.

With Marc Guéhi serving a one-game suspension, England has been forced to make defensive adjustments. Reports suggest that Southgate has utilized training sessions this week to experiment with a return to the system that proved successful during the 2018 World Cup.

Антон Зайцев, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

Southgate, known for his strategic flexibility in recent tournaments, has primarily employed a 4-2-3-1 setup in Euro 2024. However, the team’s performance has lacked fluidity, prompting consideration of a shift to a back three, last seen in the Euro 2020 final against Italy.

Stones, reflecting on England’s past successes with a back three, highlighted its potential effectiveness against Switzerland. “We’ve used this system in previous tournaments,” he noted. “It’s a valuable asset for us as a team, allowing us to adapt seamlessly and perform cohesively.”

In the absence of Guéhi, Ezri Konsa is expected to join Stones and Kyle Walker in central defense. Kieran Trippier and Bukayo Saka could provide width as wing-backs, contingent on Luke Shaw’s recovery from a hamstring injury. Phil Foden may play a pivotal role in midfield, partnering with Jude Bellingham behind Harry Kane.

Stones also addressed concerns about his fitness, dismissing worries stemming from knee strapping observed during training earlier in the week. Additionally, discussions within the squad are underway to commemorate Southgate’s upcoming 100th game in charge.

The availability of Bellingham, potentially facing disciplinary action for a goal celebration in the previous match, remains uncertain pending a decision from UEFA.


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