Southgate seeks Spain scalp

Gareth Southgate accepts England’s record against sides like Spain is ‘non-existent’ but warns they are out to change that.

Southgate’s England host Spain in a Nations League opener at Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening, just two months after they defied the odds to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia.

“We want to test ourselves against the best,” quotes the manager as saying at a Press conference.

“We weren’t hiding from those fixtures in friendlies but our record against top teams in competitive games is non-existent.

“It is not impressive, bar Argentina in 2002 [in the World Cup group stage]. It is very rare since 1970 we have beaten those top teams.

“Ideally over the next couple of years we want to get a record of beating top teams. Over the summer you’re looking for results.

“Now it’s about improving as a team, improving the way we play, improving the tactical detail of how we play and testing ourselves over the next few months against some really top teams.

“For us now, the summer is finished. It’s about the next step and the next challenge. Sport doesn’t stand still for anybody.

“I know the players are of the same mentality – they’re of an age where the next thing is the most important thing.

“It’s great there is this excitement about international football again. One of our ambitions over the last year or so has been to get back that connection with the supporters.

“It’s a much better environment for the players, to feel that warmth and that goodwill.

“A year ago when we qualified [for the World Cup] there were paper aeroplanes on the pitch and we were thinking, ‘What are we doing here?’.”

Tags England Gareth Southgate Spain UEFA Nations League
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