We are now just days away until England play their opening World Cup Group D fixture with Italy in Manaus. As expected, there has been a lot of debate as to which starting XI Roy Hodgson will go with. We all have our own ideas as to what side Roy will pick, but I have created my own side to play the Italians.
My formation is attacking – 4-1-3-2. The reason for this is, if Roy Hodgson goes into this game and plays attacking, entertaining football, but we lose the game, no one can criticise Hodgson for trying to play the right way. However, if he sets up defensively and we get destroyed then the criticism would be totally justified.
The last two World Cup’s have been truly terrible and I have faith in Roy that he can lead us to a successful World Cup. Here is my starting XI for the game against Italy.
Goalkeeper – Joe Hart
This one is a no brainer, Hart is clearly our best goalkeeper and will probably start every match unless he gets injured. He made a few mistakes at the start of the season just gone, but dusted himself down and performed well for the remainder of it, and has also looked decent during England’s three warm up matches.
Left Back – Leighton Baines
I would pick Baines ahead of Shaw, simply because of experience. I’m a big fan of him and I think he is good at defending and attacking. He had another great season for Everton and fully deserved to be in the squad.
Centre Backs – Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill
These two are solid defenders and will need to be at their very best to stop Mario Balotelli and Ciro Immobile from scoring. I have faith in both and think they will have good tournaments.
Right Back – Glen Johnson
This position is a bit of a worry for me. Glen Jonhson on his day is a good player but has not had a great season for Liverpool and I don’t think he’s played particularly well in the warm up games. He is capable of something special at times though, take a look at his stunning volley for Portsmouth against Hull in 2008.
Central Defensive Midfielder – Steven Gerrard
The first name on my team sheet. We are all aware of his quality at club level but has yet to prove it at international level – this could be his last chance, it will probably be his last World Cup. A lot of people will disagree with me and say there should be someone next to him – like Jordan Henderson or Jack Wilshere (not Frank Lampard – they can’t play together) but I think Gerrard can play that role on his own, and two defensive midfielders is too defensive minded for me.
Left Midfield – Adam Lallana
He was brilliant for Southampton last season and would be a good choice to start. He can cause the Italians problems with his trickery.
Central Attacking Midfielder – Ross Barkley
I love Ross Barkley, I think he’s absolutely fantastic. He’s got pace, he can coast past players and he’s skillful. He’s also got moments of magic under his sleeve, e.g. his wonder goal vs Manchester City in April.
Right Midfield – Raheem Sterling
Sterling has proved how good he really is at Liverpool this season, his pace is electrifying and is yet another skillful player. I really think he will give Italy nightmares.
Strikers – Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge
This is a bold move, but Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge had 46 Premier League goals between them last season and goals win games. Yes Rooney has been awful for England in major tournaments but this is his chance to shine, and I think he will prove his quality this summer. They could be a lethal partnership.
Of course, people are going to disagree with this, but some will agree with it, and that’s what all of this is about, opinions. You can say I’ve been too attacking but we’re always complaining that watching England isn’t entertaining – play this formation, and this 11 and it will be.