Gareth Southgate says England players ‘nowhere near level they’ll be capable of’

Gareth Southgate says England players ‘nowhere near level they’ll be capable of’

With a place in the World Cup final at stake, a first for Croatia and second for England, the semi-final tie is set to be a nervy one. Those victories at a time of political chaos, Southgate suggested, have had a wider impact back home.

"In November, we played Brazil and Neymar was in the side", Southgate said when reminded that his team would face a genuine world-class performer in the midfielder.

"We came here to enjoy our football and we're enjoying the journey". We're starting to see through the age groups some success because of that.

"He was a constant threat to Sweden, of course he hasn't scored the goals he would have liked to have scored but for myself and the players he has been a crucial part of the way that we have been playing", he said.

"We have made several pieces of history in the tournament and we're just looking to keep breaking those barriers down. Hopefully we'll go out there and implement our plan".

"So we're excited about the future but we also want to make the most of the opportunity we have tomorrow".

England's matches so far in Russian Federation have attracted huge television audiences at home and wild celebrations, with affable coach Gareth Southgate and his vibrant young squad capturing the hearts of a nation.

Sales of said waistcoat have rocketed as fans stock up on this summer's must-have item.

Harry Kane Odds on for the Golden Boot
Wilkinson was immediately better at football than Beckham, showing the then Manchester United midfielder up dreadfully. In any case we feel good, safe and confident.

"We are really proud of the support that we are receiving". We can feel the energy and feel support from home and it's a very special feeling, a privilege for us.

While Croatia possess arguably the best central midfield pairing in the tournament in the shape of Real Madrid's Luka Modric and Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic, Southgate's language does not indicate he is about to bring in Eric Dier as an additional defensive midfielder alongside Jordan Henderson.

But Zlatko Dalic's side have quality in every area of the pitch, from Danijel Subasic in goal to Mario Mandukic up front. They are a step away from a final showdown at a FIFA World Cup with the strongest contenders in Spain, Argentina and Portugal shown the door in the first stage of knockouts and defending champions Germany out in group stage itself.

"I've played against Modric a few times: he's a world-class player, one of the best I've played against".

Southgate added: "For a country whose population is small they have produced some incredible footballers".

"We don't have to shift from what we've been and what we've been doing because we can cover those players from within that system, albeit you know they can produce moments that you've got to be even more aware of".

The squad fly out to the Russian capital, Moscow, on Tuesday afternoon for their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years.

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