England vs Slovenia: 5 exciting things to watch out for as Gareth Southgate’s men face tough test

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As England gear up for their final Group C clash against Slovenia in Euro 2024, anticipation is mounting.

With a spot in the last 16 almost within their grasp, Gareth Southgate’s men are set to face a resilient Slovenian side.

Here are five exciting things to watch out for in this intriguing encounter at Cologne’s RheinEnergieStadion.

1. England’s Tactical Adjustments

Gareth Southgate’s tactical decisions have been a hot topic throughout the tournament. His choice to experiment with Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield hasn’t yielded the expected results, leaving fans clamouring for changes.

The potential reshuffling could see Jude Bellingham adopting a deeper role, allowing Phil Foden to orchestrate from the center.

Additionally, the inclusion of fresh legs like Anthony Gordon or Eberechi Eze could inject much-needed creativity and pace. Watching how Southgate responds to these calls and how his tactical tweaks play out will be interesting.

2. The Resilience of Slovenia

Slovenia’s journey in Euro 2024 has been marked by grit and determination. Undefeated in their last eight matches, including friendlies, Matjaž Kek’s squad has shown they can hold their own against stronger teams.

They narrowly missed victories in both group matches due to last-minute goals, showcasing their defensive solidity and counter-attacking threat.

Their resilience will be put to the test against an England side desperate to secure a convincing win and avoid potential last-16 complications. Observing how Slovenia navigates this high-stakes match could provide a masterclass in underdog spirit.

3. Harry Kane’s Quest for Goals

Harry Kane’s scoring nous is well-known, and he’s already netted in this tournament.

However, his role has expanded beyond just finishing; he’s been pivotal in link-up play and pressing, despite the team’s overall disjointed efforts.

Kane admitted the team has struggled with pressing coherence, a critical component for modern strikers. His ability to adapt and lead the line against Slovenia’s stout defense, potentially marshaled by Jan Oblak, will be a key battle.

Kane’s performance could determine whether England finishes the group stage on a high or scrapes through with more questions than answers.

4. Slovenia’s Defensive Wall and Goalkeeping Heroics

Jan Oblak, Slovenia’s revered goalkeeper, missed training recently, raising concerns about his availability. Should he play, his performance will be vital against an English attack eager to prove themselves.

Oblak’s presence instills confidence in Slovenia’s defence, which has conceded just twice in the tournament.

Watching one of the world’s top keepers in action against England’s offensive firepower promises to be a fascinating duel. If Oblak is fit, expect him to be a central figure, making crucial saves and organizing his backline with precision.

5. The Midfield Battle

Midfield dynamics often dictate the flow of matches, and this clash is no exception.

England’s potential midfield pairing of Declan Rice and a deeper Jude Bellingham offers a blend of defensive solidity and creative spark.

Meanwhile, Slovenia’s midfield, potentially missing Timi Max Elsnik and Adam Gnezda Cerin, may have to rely on Jon Gorenc Stankovic and others to fill the void.

This area of the pitch will be a battleground for control, with England’s stars aiming to dominate possession and Slovenia’s industrious midfielders seeking to disrupt and counter. The outcome of this tussle will likely shape the match’s narrative.

As the final whistle approaches in Cologne, both teams’ Euro 2024 paths will become clearer. England, needing just a point to secure progression, will look to balance caution with the desire to top the group. Slovenia, driven by the prospect of a historic first Euro finals win, will leave no stone unturned.

This match promises drama, tactical intrigue, and moments of brilliance, making it a must-watch for football fans worldwide.