Talking Tactics: What Southgate could change to slay the Dragons
England fell flat in their goalless draw with the United States — and there are now calls for boss Gareth Southgate to alter his approach.
The 6-2 dismantling of Iran in the Three Lions' World Cup opener quickly became a distant memory during the drab, uninspiring performance that followed four days later.
But England possess an abundance of attacking talent and some critics feel those players are not being given the platform to shine.
Ahead of the Three Lions' final group game against Wales, we take a look at how Southgate can silence the naysayers.
Arguably England’s greatest weakness is their inability to break down sides with a solid out-of-possession structure, just like Gregg Berhalter's Stars and Stripes.
Utilising Phil Foden properly could be an easy solution.
The Manchester City starlet has been one of the Premier League's most reliable creators this term with seven goals and three assists, but has so far played just 19 minutes of his nation's World Cup campaign.
Foden, 22, is capable of receiving the ball in tight spaces, taking on players and has the vision to carve apart the tightest of defensive structures.
His inclusion would surely make England a more dangerous attacking prospect.
Trent Alexander-Arnold's place in Southgate's squad was a hot topic heading into the World Cup.
His creative qualities are widely appreciated but he has received a lot of criticism for his defensive work, especially this season.
Southgate's doubts about Liverpool's homegrown hero out of possession are well-documented and thus far he has favoured Newcastle's dependable Kieran Trippier at right-back.
However, when England need to break teams down and are enjoying plenty of possession, rolling the dice with Alexander-Arnold could be the best option.
The 24-year-old is a unique talent — frequently proving himself as one of the most creative players in the world, despite playing at full-back.
He is capable of tucking into midfield pockets to allow England’s right winger — which has been Bukayo Saka in the opening two matches — to keep the width.
However, the Scouser is equally adept at bombing down the flank to deliver a pinpoint cross, or even cutting inside to play a through ball.
These rotations would add another dimension to England's attack, which may prove particularly useful as they enter the knockout stages.
Harry Kane will end his career as one of the best strikers England have ever produced and without doubt remains his team's talisman.
The 29-year-old is already the Three Lions' joint all-time top scorer in major tournaments (level with Gary Lineker) but is yet to find the net in Qatar.
Despite the Three Lions putting six past Iran, Kane was unable to get on the scoresheet, though he did at least record two assists.
Furthermore, the Tottenham spearhead suffered an ankle injury in that opening match and Southgate confirmed that his captain played through some discomfort against USA — but insisted it was "not a gamble" to start the 2018 World Cup Golden Boot winner.
Southgate explained: "He has had a whack to his foot, so there is a tiny bit of discomfort when he is striking the ball but we are not talking about anything that was a risk in any way, shape or form."
If Kane’s condition has deteriorated, though, Southgate could put his trust in back-up centre forward Callum Wilson and rest Kane ahead of the knockout stages.
Reliance on Bellingham
Jude Bellingham is one of the brightest young talents in world football and demonstrated his considerable ability against Iran.
The Borussia Dortmund ace ranked first among all players to have featured in the game for through-balls, passes in the final third and possessions won in the attacking third.
However, he was ineffective against USA, who had clearly identified the 19-year-old as a major threat.
While Bellingham was crowded out, Declan Rice was given more space. Yet the West Ham midfielder possesses a different skill-set and is far less threatening with the ball at his feet.
England must reduce their reliance on Bellingham if they are to be a less predictable and more dangerous outfit.
Mason Mount’s anonymous performance against USA came in for criticism, with the Chelsea midfielder failing to provide creativity or security in possession on the night.
Southgate, though, has great faith in the 23-year-old, primarily for his pressing tenacity and ability to take up various midfield roles.
On the ball, however, Mount has looked devoid of ideas, not attempting a single through-ball in the 161 minutes he has played at the World Cup so far.
Southgate may be tempted to give someone else a chance — but if he persists with Mount against Wales, the midfielder will need to improve in the attacking third with the ball at his feet.