• World Cup 2022

Gareth Southgate sets England a new World Cup target

Gareth Southgate, England
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The 1966 world champions will face their greatest challenge of this year’s tournament in title holders France this weekend.

England manager Gareth Southgate has set his side a target of ending their barren record against strong teams.

A 3-0 win over Senegal in the last-16 last weekend booked England a quarter-final date for Saturday with France. The defending champions are undoubtedly the biggest challenge Southgate’s side will face in Qatar so far.

England don’t exactly have a great record against top teams in major tournaments either. They lost to Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and ended up second-best to Italy at Euro 2020 after losing the final on penalties, despite home advantage at Wembley.

“We’ve made quite a bit of history over the last four or five years, not all of it good, but that’s the great challenge,” Southgate said in a press conference.

“When you go back through the tournaments, you do see the teams that have knocked England out. We haven’t been able to do that [win an away knockout against elite opposition] so that’s the next test for this team.

“We have a lot of experience of these moments and they know that they’ve had to win games in different ways; they’ve had to come from behind in big matches.

“What we talked about against Senegal was keeping the relentless pressure going, not sitting back when we were ahead, making sure that we kept the intensity of our game. We’ve got to do that now against the world champions.”