Victory over Spain another landmark moment for England, says Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate believes Englandâs thrilling 3-2 win away to Spain represents yet another barrier broken for this young team, but cautioned against comparing it to the 5-1 away to Germany in 2001 â" because of what happened afterwards.
The victory in Seville was a rare away win against a big nation since that famous night in Munich 17 years ago, and the manager stressed the importance of such âreferencesâ and positive experiences.
His England have already made a virtue of banishing the countryâs recent football ghosts, having finally won a penalty shoot-out and ma de it to a semi-final for the first time in 20 years during Russia 2018.
That World Cup was still missing a truly convincing attacking performance as well as a competitive victory against a top side, and Southgate felt Seville was especially relevant for how it brought both.
âI think itâs a great reference point for them,â he said. âThey progressed through a lot of barriers in the summer. First knock-out win in a decade. First penalty shoot-out win. The next barriers were, OK, weâve got to start knocking these top teams down.
âI think especially for young p layers itâs important you have real positive experiences. You can go into a team as a youngster and suffer defeats and suffer difficult nights and that becomes a bit of a reference for you. So itâs important they feel that firstly they can play against the top teams, that they can enjoy their football, that they can enjoy on the back of the summer enjoyable experiences with England.
âWeâve won matches like this in the past, but maybe not played quite in the same style as the team did tonight. There are young ones coming through who will see that and see what weâre trying to do.â
It was the adventurous manner of the performance and how they challenged a vaunted op position side that brought the comparisons with Germany 2001, but Southgate offered an important caveat: it mattered little at the 2002 World Cup, as England never quite built on it.
âThe problem with that is Germany went on the World Cup final and we did not get that far, did we? I was just focusing on the game. I get the reference and it is difficult for the players to fully understand what they have done because Spain have had such a run without losing and had real momentum with the new coach. He is top and the way they play is absolutely top. Our organisation and the way the players worked without the ball and their compactness, cutting off the angles to prevent the passes was really excellent.
âWe wonât get carried away because we werenât perfect tonight. We let two really poor g oals so there are areas we could get better and we could have scored more if some of our decision-making had been a little bit crisper. There is always room for improvement but tonight they should really enjoy it because it is a special night for them.â
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