England Starting XI v Tunisia: Odds tumble on Rashford and Rose
The betting markets have reacted after impressive displays in the final pre-tournament friendly leave Gareth Southgate big decisions to make about who starts for England against Tunisia. A nice problem to have, says Max Liu, as he discusses the big questions in attack and defence...
"Immediately after the match there were calls for Rashford to start against Tunisia and, at 5/2 on Betfair to make the 11, he looks like value."
Excellent performances from Marcus Rashford and Danny Rose in England's final World Cup warm-up friendly have given Gareth Southgate a selection dilemma ahead of their open against Tunisia. The Three Lions play their Group G rivals in Volograd on Monday 18 June and, several displays in Thursday's 2-0 win over Costa Rica have given the manager food for thought.
It's fair to say nobody had a bad game against Costa Rica. Fabian Delph, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and second-half goalscorer Danny Welbeck all showed the qualities they bring to the squad. But three players in particular might have played unexpectedly their way into Southgate's starting eleven. Principal among them was the scorer of the first goal, Marcus Rashford.
Has Rashford's goal sealed his played in starting XI?
It was an absolute screamer. There's no other way to describe Marcus Rashford's sublime first-half strike against Costa Rica. It was the type of goal that only a player full of confidence can score, which is all the more surprising when you consider that Rashford's first team opportunities at Manchester United this season have been limited. But perhaps the striker feels he has a point to prove. If so, it's bringing out the best in him.
Immediately after the match there were calls for Rashford to start against Tunisia and, at 5/2 on Betfair to make the 11, he looks like value. That would mean he'd play in the number ten role, which he occupied last night, behind the main striker. And it would almost certainly mean no starting place for Raheem Sterling.
The Manchester City has had a brilliant season for Manchester City, scoring 18 Premier League goals in a title-winning campaign. Rashford only scored seven for runners-up Manchester United, so when you look it at like that, it's a no-brainer; Sterling has to start which is why he's 1/20 to get the nod.
But it's not as straight forward as that. Sterling was disappointing in the previous England friendly, against Nigeria, and he's under-performed for England in the last four years. Rashford, meanwhile, always looks fearless on international duty and his pace, never mind the thunderous shooting ability he showed against Costa Rica, will trouble opposing defender.
Odds tumbles on Alexander-Arnold and Rose starting
At the back too, players are forcing Southgate to think again about his starting line-up.The wing-backs in particular were excellent against Costa Rica, with Danny Rose and debutant Trent Alexander-Arnold showing that they've got the defensive nous and attacking flair to make an impact in Russia. Arguably, they give England more balance and dynamism than Ashley Young and Kieran Trippier who were expected to start ahead of them.
Rose has had a difficult season for Tottenham, as he discussed in an extraordinary interview this week, but on Thursday he played with panache. He was excellent for England two years ago at the European Championships and bettors are getting behind him: he was backed in from 11/10 to 1/2 immediately after the Costa Rica game.
Then there's Alexander-Arnold who made his debut against Costa Rica but played with confidence of a man with 30 caps. A key component in Liverpool's march to the Champions League final this season, he is 7/2 to start on June 18 and will push Trippier all the way.