England entered the 2018/19 season in an unfamiliar position; for the first time in a long time, they were surrounded by optimism and hope for the future, thanks to an unexpected run to the World Cup semi-finals.
Perhaps the most significant was the way in which the public were won over not only by performances on the pitch but a sense of togetherness and humility off the pitch.
Their year started on a fine note – a Nations League group victory indicated that England could more than hold their own against Europe’s top teams.
It was, sadly, to end in more semi-final disappointment as England’s crashed out of the Nations League in a defeat to the Netherlands that was characterised by defensive errors.
As we enter another tournament year, RealSport takes a look at how England could look, and how they will be rated in FIFA 20.
Jordan Pickford (OVR 83 – 83)
Jordan Pickford is now England’s undisputed first-choice. Considering that his closest competitor, Jack Butland is playing in the Championship, it is hard to see how he could be displaced before the Euros. Still, Pickford made some high-profile blunders last year, most notably in the Merseyside derby, therefore his stock is not quite as high now as it was after the World Cup. His rating should stay at 83.
Ben Chilwell (OVR 76 – 80)
After an outstanding season at Leicester City, Ben Chilwell deserves a big boost. He forced his way into the squad after not even being in contention for a World Cup place, and is currently first choice ahead of Luke Shaw and Danny Rose. He’s solid either side of the ball and has a great burst of pace. His rating should be 80 or 81.
Harry Maguire (OVR 82 – 83)
Centre-back is the position in which England have the least depth, which makes Harry Maguire’s development over the coming season a crucial facet of England’s hopes at the Euros. It’s difficult to predict how his season will pan out, simply because it’s difficult to predict where he’ll be playing. Theoretically, a move to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City would be most beneficial to the ball-playing style that Gareth Southgate wants to play, however it seems more likely that he’ll move to United or stay at Leicester. He’ll likely be boosted to 83, although if he were to move for a record fee for a defender, it could be 84.
John Stones (OVR 82 – 82)
Club: Manchester City
Last season was a fairly unremarkable year for John Stones, starting just over half of Manchester City’s Premier League games. However, due to the aforementioned lack of depth in the centre of defence, Stones’s England spot is under no threat. He hasn’t done enough to warrant an increase or decrease in rating, with any good work in the past 12 months undone with a calamitous performance for England in the Nations League semi-final to Holland.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (OVR 78 – 82)
If centre-back is the position is the position with the least depth, right-back is where England have the most. In Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kyle Walker, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Kieran Trippier, England have a plethora of top-class options. After a tremendous season at Liverpool, Trent is currently top of the queue. There are persisting doubts regarding his defensive aptitude, however there is something to be said about how infrequently opposition were able to run at him last year. His rating may be slightly limited by his age and EA’s historically harsh fullback ratings, but will be at least 82.
Jordan Henderson (OVR 82 – 82)
Position: CDM, CM
Jordan Henderson may not be as high on the team sheet as captain Harry Kane, but he has much more leadership experience than Kane, especially after winning the Champions League with Liverpool. His place in the squad will be invaluable, and he is a more technical option at the base of midfield than Eric Dier. His rating should stay at 82.
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Ruben Loftus-Cheek (OVR 77 – 81)
After showing flashes of serious ability during his loan at Crystal Palace and substitute appearances at the World Cup, Loftus-Cheek finally delivered some consistently strong displays in the latter stages of last season. It will be interesting to see how much playing time Loftus-Cheek gets at Chelsea under Frank Lampard – he’ll have plenty of competition in N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley. With a combination of strength and technical ability, he’s a unique option and could be crucial to a successful run at the Euros. He should receive a four-point FIFA rating boost.
Dele Alli (OVR 84 – 83)
Position: CAM, CM
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
A few years ago, Dele Alli was considered one of the most promising English talents of a generation, however, he hasn’t quite shown his full ability over the past two years. Dele Alli hasn’t shown the quality over the last seasons that made him one of England’s most promising players a few years ago. Last season particularly, he struggled to maintain momentum after a series of hamstring and thigh problems. He made 25 Premier League appearances, scoring five times – a paltry figure in comparison to the 18 league goals he scored in 2016/17. Still, he’s a useful weapon for Southgate and can be deployed as an advanced centre-midfielder or behind the striker. His rating should drop to 83.
Jadon Sancho (OVR 78 – 83)
Position: RM, LM
Club: Borussia Dortmund
The emergence of Jadon Sancho is one of several reasons to be optimistic about this English side. In a breakout season at Borussia Dortmund, he scored 12 goals and set up 14. Still only 19 years old, he’s one of the hottest talents in world football. He should be a weapon on FIFA next year, with great dribbling and pace stats. His rating will be increased to 83 or, if EA hold him back due to his tender age, possibly 82.
Harry Kane (OVR 90 – 90)
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
The good news for England is that they are not as dependent on Harry Kane as they were 18 months ago. The bad news is that they can no longer be as dependent on him being fit. His goal-scoring numbers have marginally slowed down, but that can be explained by Pochettino using him in a deeper role. Yet, he’s still crucial to this team and a truly world-class striker. His rating remains at 90.
Raheem Sterling (OVR 87 – 89)
Position: RW, LW
Club: Manchester City
The main reason that England no longer need to be so dependent on Harry Kane is largely down to Raheem Sterling. He was magnificent last season both on and off the pitch and has established himself as amongst the finest in world football. It was once common opinion that he if were to become a top player, he needed to drastically improve his finishing. Not only has he done that, but he’s mastered timing his runs through defensive lines. If Sterling can carry his form into the upcoming season and onto the Euros, he may well be one of the tournament’s star men.
On the bench
Jack Butland (OVR 81 – 79) is likely to continue to deputise for Jordan Pickford, but probably needs a Premier League move if he’s to continue to contend for an England starting spot.
Luke Shaw (OVR 78-80) will compete with Chilwell for the left-back starting spot while Kyle Walker (OVR 84 – 82) will offer good experience both as a right-back and utility centre-back. Eric Dier (OVR 80 – 79) is another good option for the national team, competent both at the centre of defence and midfield.
In midfield, it will be interesting to see if Harry Winks (OVR 75 – 80) can build on a good debut season – as a midfielder adept at passing and carrying the ball forward, he’s a good option for Southgate. Also keep an eye on Declan Rice (OVR 77 – 80) who has now played for England at an international tournament and is a massive talent.
Jesse Lingard (OVR 82 – 81) will still appear, but hasn’t done enough to justify retaining the starting spot he held at the World Cup. Marcus Rashford (OVR 81 – 82) will of course be heavily involved – if all of England’s attackers were fit, Southgate may have a dilemma on his hands regarding how to fit him, Sterling, Sancho and Kane into one team.
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