Mount, Grealish or Maddison: Who Should Start at EURO 2021 for England?

For decades, England have been blessed with some of the most talented midfielders in world football. From Paul Gascoigne to Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes, and Steven Gerrard; The Three Lions have had the luxury of selecting world-class operators. Crucially, there’s always been competition for places, and that’s no different now ahead of the 2021 European Championships. With Jack Grealish, James Maddison, and Mason Mount to choose from, England’s number-ten spot has plenty of suitors. But, who should Gareth Southgate start during the summer competition? 

Quality of Teammates is Worth Considering 

In their own right, each of the above players has immense quality. Each individual has proved himself capable of playing in the English top-flight and to an extremely high standard. However, the likelihood is that Southgate can only select one to start at EURO 2021. With an abundance of world-class attackers, including Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, and Raheem Sterling, the England manager will be seeking a creative influence to open up space in midfield. At the time of writing, Aston Villa captain Grealish has averaged 3.6 chances created per 90 minutes in the Premier League throughout the 2020-21 campaign. By comparison, Mount’s total sits at 2.8, while Maddison’s is 2.4.

Although this doesn’t paint the whole picture, few can dispute the quality of Grealish’s teammates compared to those of his fellow countrymen. That arguably makes his creativity totals even more impressive. Not only that, but the Birmingham-born midfielder also tops the charts regarding ball recoveries and ground duel success with 5.1 and 62.75 percent, respectively. He would therefore help The Three Lions in transition as well as offering that much-needed creativity.

Fighting for Their National Team Spots

There’s a level of expectation that Southgate’s team should reach the latter stages of EURO 2021. This pressure may influence the manager’s decision in his midfield dilemma. Currently, Mount has more international caps than both Grealish and Maddison. He’s also made those opportunities count, scoring three goals in 13 appearances. That said, if Southgate wishes to get natural leadership on the field, Grealish is perhaps the more logical option.

Statistically, Maddison may be the better option off the bench. According to Understat, he averages 0.14 more goals per 90 than Grealish and takes 0.82 more shots each game. In terms of impact, a player of the Leicester midfielder’s calibre would undoubtedly boost England’s chances of winning the European Championships. As such, potential Three Lions success represents an intriguing betting option. Prospective bettors can take advantage of available free bets at platforms like 888 Sport, bet365, Sky Bet, and many more. Sky Bet, for example, provides new users with £20 in free bets upon betting an initial £5 wager. With markets covering EURO 2021, such offers may appeal to England fans – particularly with such a wealth of talent to choose from.

The Ideal Problem to Have

Going into the European Championships, few managers will share Southgate’s creative selection issue. On paper, each player offers something different, giving the England manager much to ponder. Although Grealish’s stats make for better reading, it’s clear that Southgate rates Mount’s work ethic and off-the-ball movement. That said, whoever is selected, England have a realistic chance of winning EURO 2021.

Is Sergio Ramos the Best La Liga Defender of All Time?

After swapping Sevilla for Real Madrid in 2005, Sergio Ramos has never looked back. At the time, Los Blancos paid £23 million for the six-foot defender, and few can argue that that hasn’t proved to be a bargain. To date, the Camas-born defender has played 507 games in La Liga for both Madrid and Sevilla combined. But where does Ramos rank among the all-time great defenders of the Spanish top-flight? Well, let’s consider if he’s the best. 

Boasting an Impressive Record 

Concerning appearances, Ramos is closing in on a place in the all-time La Liga top-ten rankings. According to Silly Season, Andoni Zubizarreta tops the list with 622 matches played between 1981 and 1998. In the Spaniard’s position, Fernando Hierro, who played for Los Blancos and Real Valladolid, made 497 appearances. Although a defender, there’s far more to the 34-year-old’s game than keeping clean sheets. Across his first 507 games in the Spanish division, he’s found the back of the net 74 times and provided 31 assists. Although it’s not all about goals, by comparison, Hierro scored 105 goals and created a further nine. 

Regarding the Spaniard’s trophy haul, few can match his achievements. Domestically, Ramos has four La Liga titles and two Spanish Cups to his name. The full extent of his triumphs, however, extend beyond the Spanish top-flight. Internationally, Madrid’s captain has twice won the European Championships and clinched the World Cup in 2021. Moreover, after his fourth Champions League title in 2017-18, Ramos become the first player in the sport’s history to captain a side to three consecutive successes within the competition. 

Numerous Contenders for the Crown 

While nothing will diminish Ramos achievements in La Liga, other players also have a case regarding the league’s best all-time defender. From a trophy standpoint, Hierro won the same number of Spanish titles as Ramos, but one less Spanish Cup. Furthermore, the battle between Madrid and Barcelona also exists within this discussion. With six La Liga triumphs, two Spanish Cups and six Spanish Super Cups to his name, Carles Puyol undoubtedly rivals Ramos. 

Additionally, it’s impossible to overlook Ronald Koeman. Although the Dutch defender only played 192 games for Barcelona, he somewhat changed football’s outlook. During his six-year spell at the Nou Camp during the late-80s and early-90s, the Zaandam-born sweeper scored 67 goals. As a result of his contributions, he won four consecutive Spanish titles and was named Footballer of the Year in 1987 and 1988. Now, the 57-year-old manages Barcelona, and, as of March 4th, his side are 10/3 in La Liga betting to win the title in 2020-21. 

Longevity Over Impact? 

As good as Ramos has been, he hasn’t revolutionised football in the manner as Koeman. However, there’s no reason to say that’s the most decisive factor in this discussion. From a playing standpoint, Koeman had more in his locker. That said, Ramos will hang up his boots with more trophies to his name. Because of that, it’s not unreasonable to say that the 34-year-old is the best La Liga defender of all time.