The Three Lions outplayed France for much of their meeting in the quarter-finals in Doha three months ago, but still came up short when it mattered
England’s quest to win a first major tournament since 1966 starts afresh on Thursday as the Three Lions’ Euro 2024 qualifying campaign begins with a testing trip to champions Italy. Southgate might have sounded a warning this week about the declining number of England-qualified players playing regularly in the Premier League, but he admitted that is a worry for the long term given the array of talent available to him currently.
For all the progress made under Southgate, though, victory over Germany in the last 16 of Euro 2020 remains his only knockout win against one of the major nations in international football. The Three Lions outplayed France for much of their meeting in the quarter-finals in Doha three months ago, but still came up short when it mattered.
“These are the sorts of games where we have to show we can go to these places and win,” said Southgate on the prospect of facing Italy in front of an intimidating atmosphere at the Estadio Diego Armanda Maradona in Naples. “That is the next step for us as a team.” England fell short on penalties against Italy in the Euro 2020 final on home soil and failed to beat Roberto Mancini’s men in two clashes in the Nations League prior to the World Cup.
“That is the big challenge we have got. To go to a World Cup, everyone wanted to be there and the fight for places was immense, the hunger was there and it was clear. Now you have to start again,” added Southgate. “I know exactly where our most senior players are with that challenge: they are ready. The [Jordan] Hendersons, the Kanes, they set the tone for that sort of mentality that is going to be needed.”
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