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UEFA Euro 2024: Gareth Southgate Admits Huge Competition Ahead of Final Group Game

Written by Oluwaseun Oyediji

The head coach of England’s senior men’s national team, Gareth Southgate is feeling the pressure of winning the team’s first ever title since 1966.

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The former defender spoke with the media on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s final group game against Slovenia where they had to win to top the group and qualify for the Round of 16.

With four points after two games, it hasn’t been a perfect start to their campaign.

“We know that we can win the tournament and also knew that Spain, France, Germany, Portugal, you can look at these squads with their players,” Southgate told journalists during the pre-match press conference.

“If you look at Croatia who had to win on Monday to stay in the tournament. That is the level of this competition. It is incredibly high.”

While admitting that there is huge competition in other teams if they are to win the title.

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The Three Lions finished second at Euro 2020 after a penalty loss to Italy and will need to go one more to take the title home.

"We don't change our objectives and to do that we knew that we must find a different level to what we have shown so far. I am expecting that we do that." He continued.

"Phil Foden played in lots of positions for us. We know we need to create more as a team. Our discussion is whether we have a team that is winning, with the right mentality, and working together to get results. It is not about individuals. If it is all about individuals, we will never succeed."

The team has been open to criticism from fans and home media. Southgate isn't bothered with that and it focused on the task ahead.

"The great thing about being on this job for a long time is that I have managed to realize how to manage myself in the best way. A few years ago, I would have read things, and listened to things, it would have saddened me and taken energy from me. Now, I can't put myself in it because it makes me lose focus and what is important. We are trying to look at how to improve things and be composed in what we are trying to do and we are determined to progress.

"Every other national team coaches are experiencing the same thing. I have seen that with other coaches. That is the modern world. The journey with the media and social media is a different environment. If you don't open yourself to it, it can't affect you." He concluded.

Meanwhile…

Arsenal star, Declan Rice also spoke on the role of media in any football team coupled with huge expectations of attempting to win England's first title in decades.

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"The media say what they had to say. We are the ones who have to go out there and do our best which we have done. I think in the second game we didn't do that quite well.

"The expectations out there are huge. While I was the captain of Westham and now with Arsenal, I like to encourage teammates that they can do better on the pitch. The quality they have can change the game. I think the more you think like that as players the more comfortable we can be on the pitch."

The women's national team won their first-ever title in 2022 while the men hope that will propel them to the title.

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