After the euphoria of the 2018 run to the World Cup semi-finals, and a confidence boosting 2019 in which England breezed through Euro 2020 qualifying and reached the inaugural Nations League finals, this year has proved more challenging for Gareth Southgate.
The coronavirus pandemic forced the postponement of the summer’s European Championships, while Southgate’s squad was been plagued by disciplinary issues and injuries in the autumn. The Three Lions could only finish third, behind Belgium and Denmark, in their Nations League group as Southgate faced criticism for his use of a conservative 3-4-3 formation.
But despite that disappointment, only Belgium, France (2nd) and Brazil (3rd) are higher than England in Fifa’s end-of-year global rankings heading into a 2021 which features the re-arranged Euros and the start of qualifying for World Cup 2022.
Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico and Italy round off the top ten, after a Covid-19 hit year which saw just 352 full internationals played, compared with 1082 the previous year.
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