Sunday, 26 May, 2019

Southgate expects youthful England to cope with Croatia's empty stadium

Barcelona’s game with Las Palmas was played in an empty stadium because of unrest in Catalonia Barcelona’s game with Las Palmas was played in an empty stadium because of unrest in CataloniaALBERT GEA REUTERS
Cary Erickson | 12 October, 2018, 08:16

Croatia were punished after a swastika was marked on their pitch before a Euro 2016 home qualifier against Italy.

"We'll see if England are better than they were in the World Cup, they have a lot of the same players but also some new ones and some injuries".

Southgate has selected two teenagers - Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho and Chelsea's Mason Mount, now on loan at Derby - in his squad, while Leicester's James Maddison has been called up for the first time.

The newly-crowned FIFA Best Men's player accused the media of failing to give Croatia the recognition they deserved in the build-up to July's 2-1 extra-time victory in Moscow.

England take on Croatia in Rijeka on Friday night just 93 days on from last-four heartbreak in Russian Federation as Dalic oversaw a 2-1 extra-time victory. There's no-one in the squad here who we wouldn't put in the team. "It's hard to play without fans but it is what it is and we need to adapt to that".

"It's not experimentation, it's players we believe in".

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England boss Gareth Southgate has shown his players a video of Barcelona's recent behind-closed-doors La Liga game against Las Palmas to help their preparation.#. It was a unusual experience, really, being in such a bubble then coming home to see how everyone got behind us back home.

"But for a match situation, in an worldwide, very different. I guess we effectively do that every day of our lives - we play football in front of a handful of people watching, so it's not totally unique", Southgate said. "That's how I felt". For them, not to have the encouragement of what is an incredibly passionate support will be very different for them.

"This is an important game especially after Spain", said Modric.

Croatia finished as World Cup runners-up after losing the final to France and Southgate is expecting another stern examination from Zlatko Dalic's team. Kovacic, Rakitic and Modric.

"But it's important for us, we want to play as well as possible to achieve a good result".

"These big matches against top teams we're learning a huge amount from".