England cannot just write off World Cup


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No limit on England expectations – Southgate

England manager Gareth Southgate says his side “cannot go to a World Cup and not try to win it”.

The draw for next summer’s tournament in Russia takes place from 15:00 GMT on Friday, with the Three Lions in the second pot of seeded teams.

It will be Southgate’s first major finals in charge of the national team.

“We’ve got to attempt to win each game, be as prepared as we can be, and see how far we can go,” the 47-year-old told BBC Sport.

“Of course, a lot of these players are going to peak in two to four years’ time, but we can’t just write off the tournament. I don’t think anyone in England would accept that.

“We can’t go to a World Cup and not try to win it.”

  • England’s best and worst scenarios in Russia
  • All you need to know about the World Cup draw

England have not won a knockout game at a major tournament since the 2006 World Cup in Germany, when they were beaten in the quarter-finals by Portugal during Sven-Goran Eriksson’s reign.

At last year’s European Championship, England’s failure to make it past the last-16 stage cost Roy Hodgson his job as manager.

“Our last two tournaments have been a disappointment,” said Southgate, who took over following Sam Allardyce’s short-lived spell in charge last year.

“We’ve got to remember where we are starting from with this group of young players. But equally they’re fiercely ambitious, everything is ahead of them and it’s not for me to put a limit on their expectations.”

Who is Southgate desperate to avoid?

A tough scenario for England in Friday’s draw, which will be shown live across the BBC, would see them drawn in the same group as five-time winners Brazil, seven-time Africa Cup of Nations champions Egypt, and Serbia.

An easier draw, on paper, would see them in a group with Poland, Iran and Panama.

England know they cannot meet Spain in the group stage, but Southgate is not focusing on who he would like to avoid.

“It’s not that the draw is irrelevant but you can worry yourself silly thinking who you are going to play. We have got to be prepared to play everybody,” he said.

“In the past we have become unstuck against teams we’d be expected to beat perhaps, and at times we have played really well against teams that might be seeded higher than us.”

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Travelling fans don’t need ‘special precautions’ for Russia 2018

How will England acclimatise in Russia?

Spread over 1,800 miles, 12 stadiums across Russia will host the 64 matches that comprise the 2018 World Cup.

Southgate confirmed England will be based in Repino, which is about 50km from St Petersburg, no matter what happens in Friday’s draw.

“The longest flight is three hours, we do that on a bus journey from St George’s Park for our games at Wembley, for us that’s neither here nor there,” said Southgate.

“Of course with any venue you never get absolutely everything you like but feel that’s the best option for us.”

Southgate earned 57 caps for his country between 1995 and 2004, and said he is able to draw on his experiences of playing at three major tournaments.

“Under both Glenn Hoddle and Kevin Keegan there was a relaxed environment,” said the former Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough defender.

“There is enough tension around tournaments anyway without the manager adding to that. It’s important for the players to feel relaxed on a day-to-day basis. You are trying to maintain some normality around the bubble that is the World Cup.

“That’s not easy, but I think we have a good culture within the team, a group of players who enjoy each others’ company.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/42189878

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