Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Gary Neville challenges Gareth Southgate's squad to build on World Cup achievements

ENGLAND FAN Gary Neville challenges Gareth Southgate's squad to build on World Cup achievements
Melinda Barton | 12 July, 2018, 13:27

The World Cup in Russian Federation has thrown up some stunning twists, turns and shocks, so it's perhaps fitting that its final game will feature the smallest nation to appear in the last stage of the tournament since 1950.

Harry Kane will likely come home from the World Cup with the Golden Boot as the tournament's top scorer and a burnished reputation as a feared forward.

From one group of Lions to another, this is exactly the type of breakthrough that fans in Detroit are patiently waiting and hoping for.

But Daniel Sturridge, who was left out of Southgate's 23-man squad, has issued a defiant response to the naysayers by reiterating that England ought to be applauded for what they accomplished in the past month.

Samuel Umtiti headed in the only goal in a 1-0 semi-final win over Belgium in St Petersburg yesterday morning (Singapore time), consigning the Red Devils' "golden generation" to another bitter defeat.

The Croatians become the smallest nation to contest the World Cup final since Uruguay, who won the tournament in 1950 when the nation had a population of around 2.4 million. It will be a really hard task to assess everybody over the next 24 hours and get them mentally back to where we want them to be for a game like that, but that will be the challenge. They should have turned up, it's the semi-final of a World Cup. There will in time be positives to take, it's very hard now to put that into context, it's a bit too soon, really, because I think you have to suffer the result a little bit. "I can't ask any more than what the players and staff have given".

"England we're proud of you, that's all I've got to say". We can knockout games and we can get to semifinals but the next step is to go one further.

Modric, who will on Sunday lead Croatia into their first ever World Cup final, suggested his team had set out to prove a point after noting unfavourable views aired by critics prior to Wednesday's match.

The Daily Express has a picture of Southgate and England players applauding the fans after their Croatia game.

"A lot of those players haven't even experienced success with their clubs, so what they've done is brilliant".