GUIMARAES – England manager Gareth Southgate insisted he cannot treat Sunday’s Nations League third-place playoff against Switzerland as a “practice match” with tens of thousands of fans having travelled to Portugal to support his side.
Southgate labelled those fans that caused trouble in Porto on Wednesday night ahead of Thursday’s 3-1 semi-final defeat to the Netherlands an “embarrassment”.
However, the England boss said he had a duty to those that have travelled without causing problems to put on a performance against the Swiss.
“We lost an important game on Thursday. We’ve got thousands of fans here and we have to make sure our performance is one that gives them something back,” said Southgate on Saturday.
“Every time we take the field, we are learning. No England international is a practice match.”
Defeat to the Dutch was the second time in a year England have lost a semi-final after losing out in the last four of the World Cup in similar circumstances to Croatia as they let an early lead slip away.
However, Southgate rejected comparisons between the two games and believes England’s determination to stick to their gameplan of playing out from the back is a sign of progress, even if it did cost his side dearly.
John Stones and Ross Barkley gifted away possession on the edge of their own box for both the Netherlands’ goals in extra-time.
Yet, Southgate pointed to England’s best move of the game in Guimaraes that led to Jesse Lingard’s goal being ruled out by the finest of margins for offside after a VAR review, which started with Stones’ pass from deep inside his own box.
“We certainly did not stop trying to play out the other night, whether we did it effectively is another case in point,” added Southgate.
“The errors we made were not because we were trying to play out from the back, they were errors in decision making.
“When we played out and played well, the move for the disallowed goal started on our byline, the move for the (Marcus) Rashford chance in the first half, we played right through the thirds of the pitch.”
Southgate is expected to be without Ben Chilwell, Jordan Henderson and Marcus Rashford due to injury and could make many more changes.
Harry Kane is likely to return as captain in place of Rashford after starting on the bench on Thursday.AFP