Gareth Southgate saw his young England team destroy Ukraine 4-0 and he now believes that they now have the confidence and belief to go all the way, after being eliminated in the semi-final at the World Cup.
The surprising star of the show, Arsenal’s young star Bukayo Saka had to miss some training time through injury, but Southgate is now confident that he will be fit for the big game against Denmark. “He should be fine,” Southgate said told Goal.
“He did declare himself available for the [Ukraine] game but we’d not really had the chance to see him on the pitch and working at the level we felt would vindicate that decision.”
England have never reached a Euros Final before, but he doesn’t think his team will be feeling nervous going into the semi-final. Southgate has so many young talents to choose from it must be a nightmare picking the starting XI as some will have to be disappointed but is full of positives ahead of the game.
“We’ve knocked off so many hoodoos or perceived barriers already and I feel like this group of players will feel this is just the next challenge,” Southgate continued.
“I guess the interesting part for us is we won’t feel totally satisfied if it’s just a semi-final… whereas maybe three years ago although there was massive disappointment after the semi-final there was a feeling we’d come a long way. Now we’ve replicated what we did there, but that won’t be enough to fulfil the group. That’s a positive sign.
“The other thing that is so positive, these young players, 18, 19, 20, 21, they’re getting more experiences of England that are positive and enjoyable and they’re feeling what it can be like to be in an England shirt and have fun and win matches and have a relationship with the fans that is positive.
“That’s so important for a generation to come. We’ll get more out of their talent if we can keep that relationship with the fans.”
No one expected Arsenal fans to have much interest in the Euros, with Saka not even expected to make the final cut, but luckily Southgate made the right decision and the Gunner has had a big influence on the competition already.
And now we may see him holding up the trophy next week. Good luck England and good luck Saka!