Gareth Southgate: ‘England have a brilliant opportunity to reach quarter-finals’

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Gareth Southgate: ‘England have a brilliant opportunity to reach quarter-finals’

Gareth Southgate has admitted that England’s game against Colombia is an immense opportunity for the Three Lions to make amends for their poor record in knockout rounds of the World Cup.

England will face Colombia on Tuesday night at the Spartak Stadium, with the winner facing Sweden or Switzerland in the quarter-finals.

England have won just two World Cup knockout games out of their last eight, and Southgate is aware that his side must capitalise on the opportunity to progress further in the competition.

“For this team, this is a brilliant opportunity to go beyond where more experienced teams have before them,” said Southgate in a press conference.

“The lads have got the chance to write their own stories. The thing I want more than anything else is the players to continue to attack the tournament as we have. That shouldn’t change now we are in the knockout phase. If anything we should feel freer. It is a game we are really looking forward to, the sort of match you want to be involved in. It is going to be a fantastic evening.

“We have to focus on the game tomorrow. We have a very difficult opponent, a very good side who we respect. We’ve got to concentrate on our football, playing in the style we have throughout the tournament, playing with the same mentality, and make sure we show the resilience and play with the freedom that we have up to this point.”

Several major upsets have already occurred in the tournament so far, including the shock exits of Spain at the hands of Russia and Germany’s rock-bottom finish in Group F.