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Champions League

England ratings and analysis: James Ward-Prowse stars, Gareth Southgate has huge problems ahead of Euro 2020


England made it two wins from two in Euro 2020 warm-up games after the Three Lions beat Romania 1-0 courtesy of a Marcus Rashford penalty.

However, questions remain, particularly at centre-half, where Tyrone Mings – Harry Maguire’s expected deputy – put together another shaky performance.

Furthermore, Southgate was without six of his 26-man squad, with the Champions League final-participating John Stones, Kyle Walker, Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Phil Foden and Mason Mount all absent.

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How many of those players will start on June 13 against Croatia and what impact will that have on ebb and flow of their play remains to be seen.

FORMATION

For the second match straight, Southgate sent his England side out in a 4-2-3-1. Nominally, James Ward-Prowse and Kalvin Phillips sat in front of the defence. However, reports persist that Southgate could move to three at the back during the tournament.

The Three Lions have only conceded once in their last five games, but the defence looked decidedly unsteady against Romania. It underlined the importance of Harry Maguire to this team, but he was not named in the squad such is his injury status. Reports suggest he could miss the entirety of the group stage.

BIG WINNER – James Ward-Prowse

Ward-Prowse, along with Ben Godfrey and Ben White, started the game despite being snubbed from England’s initial 26-man squad list.

The Southampton man produced a performance marked by industry and creativity. The excellence of his set-piece delivery is beyond question and his pinpoint delivery saw Dominic Calvert-Lewin go close in either half. However, it was his smart first-time passing and tenacious tackling that will have caught the eye.

BIG LOSERS – Ben Godfrey and Tyrone Mings

Ben Godfrey didn’t do anything wrong per se. However, it is clear that he is a centre-half first and right-back second.

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Even after the withdrawal of Trent Alexander Arnold, the squad still contained a further three right-backs, so what was to be gained from playing Godfrey out of position? Godfrey has operated at right-back but usually plays as a centre-half in a three for Everton. His rustiness had a knock-on effect on Jadon Sancho who found himself isolated and without support.

Elsewhere, Jack Grealish and Mings were the only players to retain their places from the win against Austria – and that was perhaps an indication that the Aston Villa pair could be in line to start against Croatia at Wembley.

However, Romania saw most of their joy down Mings’ channel, and it will be of little surprise if Southgate does opt for a back three next week.

PLAYER RATINGS

Johnstone 7 – He made the most saves in the Premier League last season and showed his shot-stopper smarts with a fine reaction save to deny Andrei Ivan in the second half.

Godfrey 6 – Was solid but needed to be more than solid to push for that last available spot in the squad.

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Mings 5 – The Aston Villa centre-half didn’t really recover from a shaky start and his form will be of concern to Southgate.

White 7 – Has played centre-back, right-back and central midfield and was solid, composed and assured. Southgate is a fan of versatility, and this performance coupled with his assurance in holding midfield as a substitute against Austria indicate he could prove handy during tournament football.

Shaw 6 – The Manchester United full-back started brightly, foraging down the left and understandably has a good understanding with club team-mate Marcus Rashford. He was occasionally left exposed by Mings.

Phillips 5 – The Leeds stalwart struggled to dovetail with Ward-Prowse and was withdrawn at half-time for Henderson.

Ward-Prowse 8 – His set-piece expertise is well known and was on show in both halves where two whipped deliveries provided chances for Calvert-Lewin. Moreover, he was neat with his passing, industrious in his pressing and astute in his positioning. However, perhaps his most important attribute – particularly for tournament football – is his durability: the Saints player has just completed his second consecutive season having played every minute for his club.

Sancho 6 – Left Godfrey exposed early on and for a player of his talent failed to impose himself on the game.

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Rashford 6 – The Manchester United forward is definitely not at his best. However, despite that, he showed admirable composure to slot home the penalty and his excellence off the ball – whether that be harrying defenders or running in behind them – means he should start against Croatia.

Grealish 8 – Having started and provided bright performances in both games, Grealish will be disappointed if he does not start next Sunday. He capped another fine performance by winning the penalty that won the game. His spatial awareness could prove crucial in what remains a fairly functional team.

Calvert-Lewin 7 – A perfect alternative to Kane as he offers a different threat – and his attributes allows England to change their approach. A brilliant option from the bench who should have scored against Romania, though.

SUBS

Henderson 5 – It was 106 days since Henderson played against Everton in the Merseyside derby, and it showed. There were some neat touches, though, and Henderson will be pleased to get 45 minutes under his belt. Missed a penalty after shifting Calvert-Lewin off spot-kick duties.

Bellingham 7 – If Henderson is not fit, Bellingham is the logical replacement – he is calm and mature with exceptional technique. The 17-year-old was unlucky not to score late on.

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Rice 6 – The West Ham man was as tenacious and reliable as ever.

Lingard: N/A

Trippier: N/A

Watkins: N/A

VERDICT

The Premier League’s success in the Champions League could bear serious consequences for England at international level. There are perhaps three – maybe more – starters who have been unable to participate in a single minute of the warm-up fixtures, which is a fairly astounding set of circumstances.

However, one thing that is certain is Jack Grealish has done all he can to cement a starting spot next week with two standout performances.

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