Southgate: “Football matches aren’t played on balance sheets”

England manager Gareth Southgate says his side look “in a different place” and he expects a strong performance from them in today’s quarterfinal against Switzerland.

The Three Lions haven’t hit their stride yet at EURO2024, needing extra time to get past Slovakia in the round-of-16 after a difficult group stage in which they only won one game (though they did top Group C).

Switzerland were the only team to take points off hosts Germany until their elimination to Spain last night, and knocked out defending champions Italy in the last round.

What did Gareth Southgate say?

Reflecting on his side’s performances so far, Southgate said: “You obviously want to play well as a team, your ambition is to play as well as you possibly can. Every team wants to excite, every team wants to score goals. We’ve played opponents who’ve made it very difficult for us, and as we’ve seen in some of the results they’ve had in subsequent games they’ve given other teams problems as well.”

“There’s been a lot of expectation on the team… I feel that the team even in training now look in a different place mentally, they look more fluid, and I’m expecting us to play well tomorrow.”

“Football matches aren’t played on balance sheets or by data. They’re played on grass by human beings, and it’s about what you do on the day. We know what we’re capable of, we know that in the last couple of games there’s been signs that that’s coming – to go behind in the game against Slovakia was a really enormous test.”

(Photo by Frederic Scheidemann – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

“I was full of admiration for the way they kept their nerve, the way they kept playing, trying to create good opportunities. In years gone by we might have gone really direct in those moments, lost our composure.”

However, he did add: “We’d like to have created more clear chances… We know we have to be better.”

“Switzerland have been excellent, there’s no doubt that they have a great spirit, they have some very good players, they have a clear way of playing that has caused a lot of problems for other teams.”

Southgate will take charge of his 100th game on Saturday – but there is no time for celebration, and if his pre-tournament conversation with BILD holds true, it could be his last game in the England dugout if the Three Lions don’t reach the semifinals.

“I’m very proud, but it’s the least important statistic of the week. The only thing that matters is that it’s the quarterfinal and my complete focus is on trying to get my country into another semifinal. I’m sure in years to come I’ll look back on that and reflect with great pride but right now it’s the last thing on my mind,” he told reporters on Friday.

“We have to deliver tomorrow, we have to be ready to go until the very last minute again, dig deep in the moments you have to, to win these big matches. They’re highly motivated guys and they can see the possibility of a semifinal.”

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