How England could fare in upcoming international friendlies

Article: How England Could Fare in Upcoming International Friendlies

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By Jonathan Lewis | 25th Mar 2022

England return to action after a prolonged gap this month with international friendlies against Switzerland and Ivory Coast. England are the betting favourites with and other bookmakers but manager Gareth Southgate is likely to experiment with his starting line-up.

Despite the games being friendlies, but there is still something at stake with FIFA ranking points up for grabs. The Three Lions comfortably qualified for the World Cup with resounding wins over Albania and San Marino in November, but they face a different challenge this month.

Southgate has picked a strong squad for upcoming friendlies despite the absence of key players such as Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James and Kalvin Phillips due to injuries.

They should still be favourites against Switzerland at Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening, but it may not be the easiest of games against a solid defensive outfit.

The Swiss stunned Italy in their World Cup qualifying group, finishing top of the standings. They conceded just two goals throughout the qualification process.

Murat Yakin’s side tend to operate with a low defensive block, and they could go with a similar formation this weekend, trying to capitalise on the counter-attack.

Harry Maguire’s form in central defence has been pretty average at Manchester United in recent months. However, he has often tended to fare better for England.

The 29-year-old’s performance will one to watch out for. Meanwhile, Harry Kane will be hoping to edge closer to the Three Lions’ all-time scoring record held by Wayne Rooney.

He is only five goals shy of Rooney’s 53-goal tally and has the chance to close the gap this month. Kane has fared decently against the Swiss with one goal from three outings.

The Three Lions should be fancied to come on top this weekend, but it could be by a small margin, considering the Swiss will attempt to keep things tight at the back.

Following the Swiss friendly, the Three Lions are scheduled to host Ivory Coast at Wembley on March 29.

It will be the first-ever meeting between the teams. The West African nation suffered a setback last November as they failed to make the final round of World Cup qualification.

However, they managed to impress at the African Cup of Nations, beating Algeria in the group stage while taking Egypt to a penalty shoot-out in the round of 16 defeat.

Ivory Coast outfit have tended to produce a mixed bag of performances, but the Three Lions should be wary of the attacking threat ahead of the upcoming friendly.

Sebastien Haller, Wilfried Zaha and Nicolas Pepe form a potent attack while they also have a superb box-to-box midfielder behind in the form of Franck Kessie.

The Three Lions should capitalise on the defensive weakness of Ivory Coast. It promises to be a thriller. There could be goals from either side, though England should prevail.

Jonathan Lewis is an MFF Sports Writer