Tuesday , March 21 2023

Southgate aims to end the year of England to remember Croatia's revenge


Gareth Southgate has provoked England to end its "brilliant year" in a memorable fashion, hitting the World Cup, which conquered Croatia in Wembley, to reach the National League Finals on Sunday.

Southgate's side faced expectations earlier this year, reaching the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1990, where they beat Croatia after extra time in a grueling clash.

The manager of England has created a vibrant young group that revived the country's relationship with a national team that was far less rooted for their serial subordination.

"It was a brilliant year. Whatever happened on Sunday, we have had a number of breakthroughs and we have achieved remarkable results and good performances and many new players bled," Southgate said on Friday.

"He gave us a real depth to the team and the competition for places."

Although England's World Cup run ended with a heart of suffocation in Moscow against Sunday's opponents, the momentum of the tournament was carried over this season.

Now England can win a vengeance in front of Croatia at their Wembley concert.

"We were very eager to go out of the World Cup as soon as possible," Southgate said.

"I think everyone wants to go on another stage and get to a semifinal from a group that is as tough as in that competition.

"So it's a great game for everyone to wait."

If England defeats Croatia, it will win the group and will progress to the final of the new competition – which offers the chance for Euro 2020 qualification – as well as the demotion of Croatia.

Meanwhile, a victory for Croatia would take Zlatko Dalic's men into the semifinals and will send England to Liga B, and a draw will send current group leaders Spain to the knock-out stage.

England can also be relegated to a score draw and Croatia will drop one level if it finishes empty.

England warmed up for Sunday's clashes, defeating the United States 3-0 in a friendly Thursday, which doubled as a farewell to Wayne Rooney, who made a final appearance as a substitute.

– Confident Croatia –

Southgate has called a less experienced part than usual with Lewis Dunk, Callum Wilson and Jadon Sancho, who took the opportunity to impress.

But Southgate will remind Harry Kane, Jordan Henderson, Kyle Walker, and Raheem Sterling in front of Croatia.

"We have two days to prepare, so this was one of the reasons why I played the team I did," he said.

"We know pretty much everything we need to know about Croatia, the most important being their wish.

"Coming to a full house at Wembley, we have big players who will be able to enjoy this challenge and we have to enjoy this challenge as well."

Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic will lose the match after the Barcelona star has returned to his club due to unspecified injury.

But Tin Jedvaj, whose ending goal helped Croatia to a 3-2 win over Spain this week, insists his party is confident in causing more misery in England after coming back to deny the three lei, 1966.

The two countries also drew 0-0 behind closed doors in Croatia last month and Jedvaj says England should not expect a light walk at Wembley.

"In Russia, we have proven that we can fight them without problems and that they are no better than us," he told UEFA.com.

"We might even be favored despite playing, we are England, but we think we can win and end the group stage."

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