‘play like that at the World Cup and you’ll be out in the groups’ June 7, 2022 – Posted in: Soccer

Gareth Southgate has been warned England’s recent performances would see his side ‘out in the groups’ at a tournament, but the Three Lions boss insists it’s perfect preparation.

A very late Harry Kane equaliser from the spot earned England a point away against Germany in the Nations League with a 1-1 draw coming after a worrying defeat to Hungary.


Kane was there to fire in from the spot

And Southgate has plenty to think about


And Southgate has plenty to think about

The Euro 2020 finalists haven’t quite been at their best in the post-season fixtures, with just a point in their June matches leaving them bottom of a group that also contains Italy.

Former England youth prospect and talkSPORT host Darren Ambrose was less than pleased with what he saw, and offered Southgate a stark warning.

“If this was the World Cup in the summer, we’d be out in the groups,” he said. 

“Saying you’re tired, we’ve got a huge squad of talented players, so utilise the squad.

“I don’t understand why he doesn’t make subs a little bit earlier when you’re losing, [Raheem] Sterling and [Bukayo] Saka, not their greatest games today. 

“Why not change it earlier, try and get back into the game sooner? If we got back into the game sooner we’d have a chance to maybe win.

Southgate’s negativity has been called into question


Southgate’s negativity has been called into question

“Harry Kane, delighted he got his 50th goal, I’m not saying take him off, but Tammy Abraham… What’s he got to do to get on the pitch? 

“1-0 down against Hungary he doesn’t come on, 1-0 down today he doesn’t come on, leave Kane on but change the formation, play two up top, he just doesn’t change it enough.

“[Mason] Mount plays because he has a defensive responsibility and Southgate can trust his defensive game.

“I’d rather play [Jack] Grealish in there, and it’s not against Mount, he’s a great player but if you’ve got two deep lying midfielders why do you need a midfielder in front of them that’s more defensive than attacking?”

Much like at Euro 2020, fans still yearn for Grealish


Much like at Euro 2020, fans still yearn for Grealish

England are seen as one of the favourites for the winter World Cup in Qatar, with the Nations League providing Southgate with a chance to tweak his options ahead of the tournament.

And the performances against Hungary and Germany have done just that according to the manager, who told talkSPORT what his squad learned from the adversity.

He explained: “If we want to be a big team, you have to respond to defeats. If you’re in a tournament scenario, you’re in big trouble. 

“So we built that scenario for them. Of course, once you go behind, that’s the ultimate test. 

Southgate felt a test against Hansi Flick’s side was exactly what was needed


Southgate felt a test against Hansi Flick’s side was exactly what was needed

“I thought the performance through the 90 minutes was pretty good. We showed moments where we got the other side of their midfield and looked really dangerous.

“But the quality of our passing let us down. There were times we could release people and didn’t make the right pass. There were times we were going back to the goalkeeper, the detail on the pass wasn’t right.

“The other side of our game wasn’t quite right, we were passive for the build up to their goal. 

“But I thought the response was brilliant. We created more than enough to deserve something. 

“There’s a ball that flashes across the box at 1-1 that Harry [Kane]… you’re expecting him to score. Given the type of game, the quality of the opponent, being away from home – there were a lot of positives.”

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