Gareth Southgate says he understands Wales’ attitude towards England because he lives in Yorkshire
Gareth Southgate has said that he understands Wales’ attitude to playing against England because he lives in Yorkshire.
The England manager says that people in Yorkshire “feel the same about the rest of England” as Wales does.
But he said that the animosity between the two teams was nothing more than a “sporting rivalry”.
“Well, basically they’re here and we’re right there!” he said with a smile. “There’s not a lot more I can say than that, really.
“It’s like any two countries whose borders are next to each other.
“There’s a competitive rivalry. For me, it’s a great sporting rivalry. It’s no more than that.
“That feeling might not be mutual, but I can understand that as well. I live in Yorkshire. They feel the same about the rest of England, so that’s where we’re at.
“It’s going to be a fantastic atmosphere in the stadium and we’re really looking forward to the game.”
England are assured of progress to the last 16 should they avoid a four-goal defeat to Wales, whose hopes hang by a thread after drawing with the US and losing to Iran in heart-breaking fashion.
But Gareth Southgate said that there would be no local of motivation to succeed on his players’ part.
“We want to win football matches,” the England boss said. “We have got to balance freshness with stability, so that’s always a decision you’re making when you’re picking a team.
“We’ve got a chance to win the group with a positive result, so there’s a lot for both teams resting on the game.
“There’s no game where there isn’t pressure on either team and really our performance is the key.
“We played well with the ball in our first game, scored a lot of goals. The second game was tougher for us, we defended really well.
“Now we want to put both elements of the game together.”
England head into the match as favourites against a Welsh side looking for their first World Cup win since 1958 – and first against their neighbours since 1984.
“They obviously have some world-class players who can produce moments of brilliance and have done for a long time with their clubs, with their country,” Southgate said. “They have a good spirit, they have a good organisation.
“We know the quality of the Ukraine team they beat to get to these finals and we know that they seem to have additional motivation to play against England from what they’re saying.”
Among those comments were those from towering Wales striker Kieffer Moore, who this month said he would love to knock out England.
“He’s entitled to say whatever he wants leading into a game,” Southgate said when the former England C international’s comments were put to him. “I’d be amazed if he didn’t feel that way.
“We’ve got to just focus on what we’re about, preparing for the game in our normal way.
“We’ve got to bring our quality to the game and composure and play with tempo that makes our team really difficult to play against.
“So, it’s pointless us focusing on what is said before the game. We’ve got to go on the pitch and play well.”
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