Wayne Rooney has called on England boss Gareth Southgate to start Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford in Tuesday’s clash with Germany in the round of 16.
The Derby County boss believes Rashford should start in the top three alongside Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling for the Three Lions.
This would mean that none of Jack Grealish, Phil Foden or Mason Mount have been present from the start, Rooney believes Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson should start in a three-way midfield.
Southgate fluctuated between a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 during Euro 2020, the latter having been used against the Czech Republic last week with Aston star Villa Grealish from the start.
Rooney believes that a more conservative approach that could break up the German attacks and use Rashford and Sterling’s pace on the counterattack would be the most effective approach.
The former England captain stressed that Germany was playing a rear wing formation and leaving space in the canals that could be exploited.
He also highlighted the lack of pace in the German defense, especially from experienced center-back Mats Hummels, as an area to exploit.
Although he previously called on Grealish to be selected early on in the tournament, Rooney now believes this game would be a better fit for the more direct and quicker Rashford.
Rooney wrote in his column with The Times: “After all my support for Jack Grealish, I wouldn’t play him from the start against Germany.
“He was one of England’s best players against the Czech Republic and it’s not that my opinion of him has changed.
Which attacking players should England start with against Germany? Comments below
“My thinking depends entirely on how the Germans play. Different opponents require different approaches and Tuesday’s game is tailor-made for Marcus Rashford – but not for Jack.
“Germany are playing three at the back with a high line and what they’re trying to do is almost choke you.
“They go side to side, pick up the ball in wide areas, come back and go to the other flank, then put the balls into the penalty area.
“And when you win it, they want you to play a kick pass because that means – with their line pushed up – they can go and squeeze you high on the court.
“The more players you have who want to take the ball on their feet, the more they can push down, so instead of Jack, I would look to have runners on either side of Harry Kane.
“My instruction would be to attack the spaces behind their full-backs as they advance and to make descents into the channels on the sides of their center-backs – especially given Mats Hummels’ issues with pace.”
Germany are set to line up in a 3-4-2-1 formation which uses Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich and Atalanta’s Robin Gosens as wingers to exploit the full width of the pitch.
Kai Havertz, Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry should form a fluid three-way attack system.