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England ready to handle expectations at Euro 2024 says Southgate

Published : Monday, 4 December, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 280

HAMBURG, DEC 3: England manager Gareth Southgate said he was confident his side could handle the expectations that come with being one of the favourites to win Euro 2024 after they were given a kind draw on Saturday for the finals.

They were drawn to play Denmark, Slovenia and Serbia in Group C at the tournament next June, where they will be bidding to finally claim a first major title since the 1966 World Cup.

Third in the latest FIFA world rankings, England are currently seen as the leading contenders to win the Euro along with France, the team that edged them out of last year's World Cup in the quarter-finals.

"We are third in the world rankings this week. We have been in the top five for five years, so consistently they have produced performances, so I think they are used to that," Southgate said of his team, who topped their Euro 2024 qualifying group ahead of Italy without losing a game.

"They have that expectation. They are used to playing in big matches together and individually, so we are excited and all looking forward to the tournament."

Under Southgate, England reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and lost the final of Euro 2020 on penalties to Italy, before their 2-1 defeat by France in the last eight in Qatar a year ago.

That match was on a knife-edge and could have ended differently had Harry Kane not missed a late penalty.

However, there is confidence that England might now be better equipped to go all the way in Germany next June and July given the current form of Kane at Bayern Munich and Jude Bellingham at Real Madrid in particular.

"We are very happy to have those players. We feel that the squad has been building for a long period of time and that England were going to be competitive for the foreseeable future," Southgate said.

"If you are continually in those latter stages, then most teams that win, that is what they do, they go close and they get there."    �AFP

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