Southgate urges England to play without fear

Southgate urges England to play without fear

Gareth Southgate has called on his team to play with no fear and create history by becoming the first England men’s side to reach an overseas tournament final. 

The 1966 World Cup and Euro 2020 finals were both held at Wembley, but Wednesday night’s showdown with the Netherlands represents an opportunity to reach Berlin for a shot at winning the Henri Delaunay Trophy. 

England boss Southgate, who will keep faith with Harry Kane on Wednesday night despite the striker’s poor form, said: ‘We’ve listened to the challenges over the years and used them as motivation to break new ground. 

‘We’ve never been to a final outside our own shores. These are opportunities to make a difference and that’s how we have to look at it. We don’t want to be burdened by what’s happened before. We have got to use this opportunity to change history as a motivation, and that’s how the players see it. It’s about their moment now, nothing that’s gone on in the past. None of that is their fault or their concern.’ 

Amid criticism of England’s performances and Southgate’s tactics throughout the Euros, the manager insisted team spirit was stronger than ever. ‘This group of players have really come together well over the last three or four weeks,’ he said. ‘We’ve spoken about (playing with fear). When you sense that feeling, you need to confront it. It’s no use hoping it will go away.

Gareth Southgate has advised his players to go into Wednesday’s clash and play without fear

England's freer-flowing performance against Switzerland set up their Dortmund semi-final

England’s freer-flowing performance against Switzerland set up their Dortmund semi-final

‘I had to correct how the players were viewing things. Maybe it was the expectation. Maybe it was a lot of external things as well. But now they’re very much in a, “What’s achievable, what’s possible?” mindset.’

Centre back Marc Guehi, who was suspended for the quarter-final against Switzerland, is pushing for a recall in place of Ezri Konsa.

Luke Shaw is fit to start but Kieran Trippier is hopeful of keeping his place on the left. And Kane will continue up front, despite concerns over his form and fitness.

‘I feel like I’m getting better and sharper as the games go along,’ the captain said yesterday. ‘Ultimately it’s just down to me performing. I’d love nothing more than to score a couple of goals and get through to the final.’

The Netherlands’ plans were hit on Tuesday when their train to Dortmund was cancelled, leaving Ronald Koeman’s squad stranded on a station platform in stifling heat. An emergency flight was booked to depart at 8.20pm, meaning the Dutch arrived several hours late and missed the opportunity for a session at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion.

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