England are not where they want to be and find themselves preparing for a match which no team wants to play in after Wednesday night’s semi-final loss to Croatia.
Boss Gareth Southgate finds himself readying his England team for Saturday’s third-placed play-off with Belgium in St Petersburg.
“The honest thing is it’s not a game any team wants to play in,” Southgate said.
“We have two days to prepare. We will want to give a performance of huge pride. There’s no question about that. It’s always there every time we wear the shirt of our national team, we want to play with pride, we want to play well and win.”
Southgate, part of the England team beaten in the semi-finals of Euro 96 when he missed the decisive penalty against Germany, reflected with pride and optimism on Russia 2018.
“For these players, many have come of age on an international stage and I couldn’t be prouder with what they’ve done,” Southgate added.
“But I’ve said all along we’re not perfect, we’re not the finished article. There’s a long way for us to go.”
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What’s on tomorrow?
It is match day minus one, rather than two, as England prepare to play Belgium for a second time this tournament. Defeat to Belgium in the group stages gave England an “easier” route in the tournament. Changes will be expected, but Southgate has already outlined his determination to win the game. The England boss and players will face the media for their final pre-match media commitments of Russia 2018.