With Euro 2020 set to kick off in two months time, Gareth Southgate’s England squad will soon have to be confirmed.
But selecting the 26-man England squad is not the only difficult decision Southgate will have to make, because the England boss will also have to decide which eleven players will start in their opening Euro 2020 group game against Croatia on June 13, and that decision only seems to be getting more difficult for Southgate as the season progresses.
Whilst players like Jack Grealish, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson would have been considered as key players for England just a few months ago, factors like injury and loss of form have changed the perspective.
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Particularly with players like Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Declan Rice, John Stones, Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Jesse Lingard enjoying exceptional form in recent months.
So to take the pressure of Gareth Southgate, esports bookmaker Unikrn have chosen England’s Euro 2020 squad based on their popularity on FIFA 21 Ultimate Team (FUT 21), but this data shows that two of England’s star players are not quite as popular in the virtual world as they are in the real world.
This is how England would line up against Croatia on June 13 in their opening Euro 2020 group game, if the squad selection was based on the player’s popularity on FIFA 21 Ultimate Team.
England’s front three, as chosen by their popularity on FUT 21, should be Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins and Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho.
In midfield, Leicester City’s James Maddison and Raheem Sterling feature, with the defence consisting of Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, Manchester United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Manchester City defender Kyle Walker and Rangers full-back James Tavernier. In goal, Burnley stopper Nick Pope.
So, there’s no room for players like Harry Maguire, John Stones, Declan Rice, Harry Kane, Phil Foden or Mason Mount.
What about the full 26-man squad though?
England’s 26-man Euro 2020 squad based on FUT 21
According to the research, Rashford tops the list as the most popular England player on FIFA 21 Ultimate Team, being selected for 38million games by FUT 21 players so far.
Surprisingly, Chris Smalling, having managed 1.4 million FUT 21 games, is included ahead of United defender Harry Maguire, whose lack of pace may have been a factor, because AC Milan’s Fikayo Tomori is also included.
Full-back James Tavernier is included over Kieran Trippier and Reece James based on his FUT 21 popularity, with Liverpool’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain more popular than both Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips.
Tottenham striker Harry Kane is included, but he’s not the most popular England forward on FUT 21, because Ollie Watkins and Rashford have played far more matches on the game mode.
Neither Mason Mount or Phil Foden make the squad based on their popularity on FUT 21, with Mason Greenwood, Dele Alli, Bukayo Saka, Harvey Barnes, James Maddison and others included instead.
A Unikrn spokesperson said: “England have an armory options ahead of the EUROs this summer and Gareth Southgate’s selection headache has only been made worse thanks to our list.
“Our findings have shown, where fans of FIFA Ultimate Team often select their players based on pace and mobility, some of the nation’s biggest talents have been left out of contention in our specially-selected 26-man squad.
“Foden and Maguire missing out purely comes down to their ability on FIFA and they should be two of the first names on the team sheet come June.
“However, with over a month until the tournament starts, plenty could change, and those currently on the periphery might force themselves into Southgate’s plans.”
FIFA 21 is out now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, with FIFA 21 next-gen also available now on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.
Players who have purchased one of the new next-generation consoles including the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, and who have already previously purchased FIFA 21 on their older consoles, can now upgrade to FIFA 21 next-gen for free through Dual Entitlement.
Players can also carry over their progress and content in Ultimate Team and Volta Football in FIFA 21.