Who Should Start Against Russia?

England’s opening Group B with Russia is just a few hours away, with fans across the country debating their preferred starting-eleven and the deployment of key players. Manager Roy Hodgson’s confused selection for the 1-0 win against Portugal has only served to intensify the debate, with major questions remaining unanswered concerning Wayne Rooney’s best position, England’s best formation and the composition of their midfield.

England’s opening Group B with Russia is just a few hours away, with fans across the country debating their preferred starting-eleven and the deployment of key players. Manager Roy Hodgson’s confused selection for the 1-0 win against Portugal has only served to intensify the debate, with major questions remaining unanswered concerning Wayne Rooney’s best position, England’s best formation and the composition of their midfield.

So which players should feature in Roy’s starting line-up against Russia in Marseille this evening? Here is our preferred 11 at BetHut…

The Defence

With Joe Hart certain to start in goal and the much-improved Chris Smalling the first choice at centre back, it is the other three positions that remain unclear in the build-up to the first game. A niggling injury to Ryan Bertrand seems to have cemented Danny Rose’ selection at left-back, however, while Gary Cahill is Hodgson’s preferred partner for Smalling at the heart of the defence.

Kyle Walker’s man-of-the-match performance against the Portuguese may have helped him to edge ahead Nathaniel Clyne in the right-back position, although this is a tight call that could yet go either way. We prefer the Tottenham man’s incision in the final third, so he definitely gets our vote.

Our Picks: Hart, Walker, Smalling, Cahill, Rose

The Midfield

The most contentious area of selection, the midfield is also crucial in determining which system England will play. Given the squad that Roy has selected, we are in favour of a flexible 4-3-1-2 or diamond formation, which will deploy the strong and tough-tackling Eric Dier in the crucial holding role.

England’s best ball-players should flank Dier in the middle of the park, with Jack Wilshere and the increasingly deep-lying Wayne Rooney boasting the vision and tenacity retain and win possession as the situation demands. This will leave the precocious and energetic Dele Alli to play in his best position just behind the strikers, while crucially enabling him to interchange in a fluid system with both Rooney and the returning Wilshere.

Our Picks:  Dier, Rooney, Wilshere, Alli

The Forwards

Our system would leave England playing with two central strikers, so it is crucial that Hodgson selects hard-working forwards and at least one player who can drop deeper and supplement the midfield. Harry Kane is perfectly suited to this task, with his strength, guile and partnership with Dele Alli central to England’s attacking ambitions.

While we would love to see the enigmatic and talented Daniel Sturridge partner Kane in attack, this may be too much for the injury-prone striker’s body to cope with. Instead, Jamie Vardy should take his place in the England line-up, playing on the shoulder of an opposing centre-back and using his pace to penetrate any space that is left in behind.

Our Picks: – Kane and Vardy

Barring any major tactical innovations (and given the restrictions provided by squad selection and individual fitness), this is our preferred line-up for England’s opening game against Russia. Operating with a fluid 4-3-1-2 or diamond formation will certainly help the Three Lions to get the most from their playing squad, while also leveraging the individual talents of players such as Dele Alli, Jamie Vardy and talisman Wayne Rooney.

You’ve heard our thoughts, but which players would you pick for the opening game? Get in touch and let us know your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you!

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