Gareth Southgate reveals preferred system ahead of England vs France | Football

Gareth Southgate is expected to stick to the system he has used so far in Qatar (Picture: Getty Images)

Gareth Southgate says 4-3-3 is his preferred system as he is expected to name an unchanged England team to take on France in the World Cup quarter-final on Saturday.

Southgate has changed his starting XI over the four games in Qatar so far, but has stuck with a 4-3-3 formation in every match, winning three and drawing one.

There has been much debate over whether he would switch to playing three central defenders and wing-backs against France in an attempt to neutralise Kylian Mbappe, but that now appears unlikely.

The England boss says he decided how he was going to set his team up as early as Monday, declaring 4-3-3 his preferred system, while The Telegraph reports that the starting XI will be the same as the one that beat Senegal 3-0 in the last 16.

‘We decided on Monday. We’d already watched by Monday night all the games of France, we’d already reviewed our game from Senegal,’ said Southgate. ‘So we’re very clear on the right path because then you’ve got to deliver that through the week. We’re comfortable with where we’re at.

‘How does the team evolve over a period of time? In Russia, it was the right way to go to get the best players we had at that time on the pitch. I think we’ve constantly tried to evolve that and I think we’ve done that during this tournament as well.

‘I know people think I have a preference for a certain system, but if anything my preference has always been 4-3-3, but I don’t think it’s always been appropriate for us to play and get the best out of the team.’

An unchanged team means Jordan Pickford in goal, with a back four of Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw.

The midfield trio will be Declan Rice, who has recovered from illness, Jordan Henderson and Jude Bellingham, with a front three of Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and Harry Kane.

Marcus Rashford again misses out, despite scoring twice on his only start at the World Cup so far, when England beat Wales 3-0, and also scoring when he came on against Iran in the opener.

Sticking to 4-3-3 means Kyle Walker will be tasked with keeping Mbappe quiet, with the help of Rice and Henderson in front of him.

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