Tuesday , April 20 2021

Southgate sees exciting clash against Croatia



Gareth Southgate is hoping for a thrilling matchup as England, which is always improving, to overcome Croatia in the World Cup semifinal and reach the final of the League of Nations.

Wembley will stage the third meeting of the countries in just 130 days, in a fascinating meeting of all the winners on Sunday.

The win ensures progress for the next summer's League of Nations finals and a semi-final, while the defeated team will be relegated from the first division after an exciting first round.

A full house will greet the teams at the end of Group A4 when England have a chance to avenge their 2-1 defeat by Croatia in the World Cup semi-final in July.

"We've obviously played twice in the last few months and we know their style of play, we know their preferences, the areas they build," said Southgate, having overseen the 0-0 0 draw for locked in Rijeka. month.

"We know areas that we think we can try to explore and are really two teams, both games after 90 minutes were ties, I think there were periods in both matches, where each team has the advantage."

"We have to put together all things tomorrow and make sure we will support the last performances, which were really healthy, and end the year from a rising England perspective."

This was certainly a year for England, who reached the World Cup semi-final for the third time and is reaping the fruits of Southgate's youth confidence.

"I think we have learned from all the experiences we had," said the former defender as he reflected on the changes since the semi-final defeat to Croatia.

"We've added a little more depth to the cast, in terms of some younger players coming up, more competition for places. We've had a little system change, which also had something different, so we have some flexibility in how you can play, so we're always improving.

"I think in those five games you've seen since the summer, what we did not do was sit on our laurels and said," Okay, we're happy with what he did in the World Cup and that's it for the year and we look forward to it European Championship.

"We wanted to keep improving and I think the players showed that mentality too."
Southgate cares little about permutations on Sunday

"We want to win the game, that's as simple as that," he said – and downplayed suggestions that Ivan Rakitic's absence could be an incentive for his team.

The head of the Three Lions also denied that Croatia's effort in Thursday's 3-2 win against Spain could be an advantage.

That was the same result that Slaven Bilic's men triumphed 11 years ago at Wembley, where Steve McClaren was labeled "Wally with Brolly" when the Three Lions lost the Euro 2008.

"I remember Slaven making a fantastic impact with the team," Southgate said.

"Some of the players who are still playing for them were out there, so that's why we have a lot of respect for many of these senior players in particular.

"But this game has no influence on tomorrow's game. We have a whole new team, a whole new mindset.

"We are trying to break the barriers and play differently, a different style and we are improving all the time, so we are looking forward to tomorrow's challenge."

Joe Gomez and Luke Shaw return to contention Sunday after losing Thursday's 3-0 win over the United States due to injury – a match when Southgate made a round with an eye on that captivating duel.

"I think we have proven ourselves throughout the year to be two of the best teams in the world this year," added the England coach.

"At the moment, Croatia have the advantage that defeated us in extra time in the semifinals. We have great respect for them, their players, their coach, their mentality.

"But we are also convinced that we are improving and we are learning all the time and people can see how hungry we are to succeed, so we have a great motivation before tomorrow's game."


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