Dream Team World Cup gaffers would be wise to lean in to feelings of deja vu this winter.
One of the most notable trends from Euro 2020 was the success of several ambitious full-backs and wing-backs, who not only propelled their teams forward but produced shed-loads of Dream Team Euros points.
With the tournament in Qatar set to get underway this weekend, many of the same names seem well placed to thrive once again.
Sadly, Leonardo Spinazzola won’t be present after Italy’s failure to qualify but let’s take a closer look at three defenders hoping to shine on a big international stage just as they did last year.
The Man United left-back may not have been Gareth Southgate’s first-choice selection had Ben Chilwell not been ruled out with injury but as it is he’s a guaranteed starter as the only specialist left-back in the squad.
And the Three Lions boss won’t have too many complaints as Shaw was one of the best players on display at Euro 2020.
The 27-year-old provided three assists and scored in the final as England fell just short in the summer of 2021.
And he scored in his most recent international outing too, during the entertaining 3-3 draw with Germany at Wembley back in September.
Group B could be a cagey one as England have generally preferred control and solidity under Southgate while USA, Iran and Wales are all evenly matched.
If the group favourites are able to keep two clean sheets out of their first three fixtures then Shaw should have plenty of points to show for his efforts.
Remember, England defenders absolutely dominated Dream Team Euros, with Shaw topping the rankings.
The Inter Milan wing-back gave his compatriots a little scare at the weekend when he was prematurely substituted having seemingly gone down with injury but he has since declared himself ‘fit’ and believes he is ‘ready to start’ Netherlands’ first World Cup game against Senegal.
Keep your eyes and ears open for further updates but we’re happy to take him on his word at this stage.
Dumfries is categorised as a defender in Dream Team World Cup but he’s arguably the most attacked-minded asset in his position.
The 26-year-old has scored three goals and provided two assists in his last ten appearances for the Oranje.
Those who kept track of Euro 2020 would have noted how often the wing-back took up positions in the opposition’s penalty area – he registered two goals and one assist at the tournament in just four outings.
Louis van Gaal’s side were dealt a favourable group alongside Ecuador, Senegal and hosts Qatar so Dumfries could deliver clean sheets and attacking returns just as he did at the last major tournament.
Feel free to slap Denmark with the ‘dark horses’ tag this winter.
Kasper Hjulmand’s side beat France home and away earlier this year and wouldn’t you know it, they’re due to play Les Bleus again in Qatar – that Group D fixture may well play a huge part in determining the round of 16 match-ups.
Not only that, they were the joint-top performers in European qualifying.
Like Dumfries, Maehle is a wing-back who is most effective in the final third, though he operates from the left.
The 25-year-old’s stats at international level read like that of a winger – he’s scored nine goals and provided six assists in 31 caps!
Three of those goal involvements came at Euro 2020 as he helped Denmark reach the semi-finals.