England finished top of their group and are now preparing for a tough test against former German rivals on Sunday.
Gareth Southgate’s side have yet to reach the pace of this tournament, despite three successive clean sheets.
With question marks over England’s tactical system and the likes of Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden and Mason Mount, Sportsmail pundits Jermaine Jenas and Danny Murphy attempt to tackle the issues ahead of the massive knockout clash Tuesday.
Gareth Southgate has many dilemmas to resolve ahead of Tuesday’s Round of 16 game
England topped their group with two wins and one draw and have yet to concede a goal
QUESTION 1: Should England be less boring?
JÉNAS: There is no way England can enter the game against Germany playing in the same negative frame of mind that they showed in the second half against the Czech Republic. People said it was good management of the game. I’m not sure that’s the case. Good management of the game consists of dominating the ball, which wears down the opposition. We had possession but not in the right areas.
We haven’t put the ball in danger often enough. We have gone too far to the side. There were times when there was a tight pass available, but instead it went back to the last four. Then it ended with Jordan Pickford.
We have to hurt teams with forward passes and trust the players to handle the ball under pressure or you allow the opposition to press high. It’s good if you can then hit teams on the counterattack, but we didn’t do it against the Czechs. There is a lot of work to be done if we are to win this thing.
England must show more intensity and stop returning so much to defense and goalkeeper
MURPHY : It’s less about throwing caution to the wind and more about playing harder for longer periods of time.
England’s best spells so far haven’t happened because we were excited with the full-backs pushed high or Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips bursting into the box. It was about recovering the ball and moving to a higher pace.
Our intensity needs to improve now that we’re out of the squad, but it’s not about finding an expansive new game plan.
QUESTION TWO: Should they move to three in the back?
JÉNAS : Yes. Four in the back has not been electric so far. Don’t you think, wow, bring it on. It gives me reason to expect a change.
We are not playing well enough not to consider changing formation to face Germany with their wingers.
Look how much trouble Hungary has caused them. Not only would that give us stronger possession, but also more man-to-man control on the pitch. The full-back is also one of our strongest areas.
I think Ben Chilwell or Bukayo Saka and Reece James vs Joshua Kimmich and Ryan Gosens is a key game that we can win.
Jermaine Jenas would start a three-way comeback while Danny Murphy would stay with the same system
MURPHY : No. I would stick to what got the team so far. Making fundamental changes risks unnecessary confusion.
A lot of our players haven’t been in a back three for a long time. We have to work hard under our usual system to score correctly, especially when the German players change positions.
We can cause them a lot of trouble in 4-3-3 and try to exploit their lack of rhythm. If we go to 3-4-3 it sends a message that we are worried.
QUESTION THREE: Did Saka overtake Sancho and Foden?
JÉNAS: I spoke to Gareth Southgate before the tournament and one of the things he said he liked the most was Saka’s versatility and ability to play left-back. He is good defensively and superb in the future.
Against the Czech Republic it was exciting going forward, but England also looked solid on the right side with Saka ahead of Kyle Walker. Southgate may lean for this against Germany.
We are at the stage where we have to get the best of our best players. Phil Foden is one of them, but he still hasn’t been played in the position where he stars week after week.
If Saka plays from the back, that leaves room for Foden in a three on either side of Harry Kane. You can’t let Raheem Sterling down, no one else looked likely to score.
Foden could play on the other side, but I would always choose Jack Grea-lish and his assist against the Czech Republic only reinforced those feelings.
Bukayo Saka could have made his way into the starting lineup based on his last performance
MURPHY: If Foden plays on the right, I wouldn’t be unhappy because he’s a great talent. But Saka fared so well against the Czechs that it became almost impossible to leave him out.
In addition, Germany is looking for ideal opponents to match its talents. Their defenders won’t like him and Sterling running at them with pace and dribbling ability. Saka is also one of the Premier League’s most versatile players. His own experiences as a winger mean he will know how to help Walker take on Gosens.
It’s been a fairytale rise for the Arsenal teenager and it underscores Southgate’s philosophy that everyone in the England squad is important. Saka did not start the Euro but brilliantly seized his chance in the last group match.
QUESTION FOUR: Does Mount come straight back?
JÉNAS : If it’s a three-way comeback, I’d start Mason Mount next to Phillips. We appear to be the only country obsessed with safety and security in the midfield. Germany has Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan in there. When did we consider them to be defensive midfielders?
Germany have two complete ball players, we have two midfielders in Phillips and Rice doing the same. They are both better without a ball, both pass to the side. Their pace is similar.
Phillips has more to offer on the ball, but has been limited so far. After Rice left against the Czech Republic, he tried to hit a few passes. This is what I want to see. Someone who takes control of the ball.
Jenas and Murphy reportedly bring Mason Mount back from Chelsea to starting lineup
MURPHY: He would be in my starting XI, 100 percent. He will not have lost any physical form during his short time away from the squad and showed last season that he has great natural energy in him.
Frank Lampard, who knows Mason much better than I do, also highlights his footballing intelligence. All the tactical plans he would understand right away, even if he wasn’t in all of the meetings and sessions.
QUESTION FIVE: Does the home advantage matter?
JÉNAS : It all depends on how the players handle it. I’d rather be at Wembley with 45,000 home fans than in Munich.
This is why it was so important to win the group. The team could not have entered this final group game in search of a draw. It is difficult to quantify the negative impact this would have had on the players, the manager, the nation. Winning is so important.
It’s so much better to be at Wembley. Look at what poor Wales had to contend with, playing in Baku, then Rome, then Amsterdam. It’s hard enough without all this travel.
England’s home support on Tuesday will give them an advantage against Germany
MURPHY: Familiarity with the surroundings and, more importantly, the fans will give England an advantage at Wembley.
The concept of home advantage is difficult to define, but having already played three group games there, the size of the pitch will be second nature to Southgate players, and the normalcy of the routine, same hotel, same commute. by coach, will help.
The fans are a big help though. We saw last season with the number of away wins in the Premier League taking fans out of the equation even out. As a player, hearing that noise in the stands gives you that extra boost in making that run or tackle. It’s no guarantee but England will certainly be helped by a passionate crowd.