Monday, 11 December, 2017

England get lucky but Gareth Southgate urges caution

FA chief executive Martin Glenn has given Southgate a vote of confidence ahead of next year's World Cup FA chief executive Martin Glenn has given Southgate a vote of confidence ahead of next year's World Cup
Domingo Copeland | 03 December, 2017, 02:02

England will open up against Tunisia on June 18.

That will be followed by a meeting with Panama in Nizhni Novgorod, 400 kilometres east of Moscow, on June 24.

Belgium are 10 places ahead of England in the world rankings, but both teams went unbeaten through qualifying and their encounter on paper is one of the ties of the group stage.

"Tunisia takes me back to Marseille", the 47-year-old said, "one of the best days of my life, playing my first game in the World Cup finals for England, an incredible atmosphere and I remember the colour of it, the Beatles music playing before the game".

"We knew that the maximum journey would be a couple of hours and we couldn't be in three different time zones anyway, the way it was all prepared", Southgate said in Moscow.

"It is interesting to be starting slightly later, with what that means at the end of the season".

Southgate claimed a relatively late introduction to the tournament, coming five weeks after the final Premier League match, could also play into the hands of his young team. "It could help. We've got to get that period of training and recovery and freshness right".

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Southgate, though, was quick to recall their failure even to qualify from their group at the 2014 World Cup, and their pitiful defeat against Iceland at Euro 2016 in France.

When asked about England's chances of winning the tournament, World Cup victor Gordon Banks said: "If they start straightaway, getting some results, playing pretty well, then they'll stand a chance".

If England make it into the last-16 they will play the team which finishes first or second in Group H: Poland, Colombia, Senegal or Japan.

He added: "It would be easy to say there is a certain round and level but the reality is we don't know".

"Gareth will be telling the lads, 'We need to be super professional going into them two games, ' he said". The last two tournaments - Costa Rica went through in a group with us and then Iceland knocked us out.

With all this considered, it's now high time we had a peek at what England's players (might?) be wearing as they take to the field in Russian Federation.

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