England made some surprising changes prior to their final group-stage match at Euro 2016 and it could come back to haunt them

English National TeamLee Smith/Reuters

Let’s face it: The English national team has always struggled when it’s come to putting together great performances in pressurized situations. But they’re riding a high after beating Wales last week, which makes manager Roy Hodgson’s decision to make numerous changes to his starting XI quite puzzling.

According to ESPN FC, Hodgson will make six changes to the team, shaking up his midfield by replacing Wayne Rooney with Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson, while Dele Alli will make way for Arsenal’s Jack Wilshire. He also is replacing both full-backs, with Kyle Walker and Danny Rose being replaced by Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Betrand.

These changes will have effects that are yet to be seen, because none of the new players have hit the pitch during this European Championship.

However, Roy Hodgson is also making two changes that have proven results as Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy, the men responsible for both goals in England’s 2-1 victory over Wales, will replace Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling in the lineup. These two changes, on paper at least, are the two smartest of Hodgson’s changes simply because Sturridge and Vardy have produced tangible results while Sterling and Kane have failed in that regard.

In the end, the changes are huge because England still needs a win in their final group-stage match to win the group and set up an easier opponent in the knockout stages. A loss could mean a matchup with Germany or Spain, which could mean near-certain doom for England.

That said, there’s a lot of uncertainty around the English national team going into today’s game, so it’ll be interesting to see how Hodgson’s lineup shake-up works out.

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