Southgate warns England ahead of Croatia match

England manager Gareth Southgate has said that his team will lose to Croatia if they play like they did against USA last night. England defeated USA 3-0 at Wembley last night thanks to goals from Jesse Lingard, Trent Alexander-Arnold and debutant Calum Wilson.

Wayne Rooney played his final international match and came on as a second-half substitute for Lingard.

After beqting USA, England play a crucial Nations League match against Croatia at Wembley on Sunday. Croatia defeated Spain 3-2 at Zagreb last night to register their first win of the Nations League. Spain end their Nations League Group with 6 points while Croatia and England have 4 points each.

Sunday’s match will determine who will qualify for the Nations League Finals with all three teams standing a fair chance of qualification. Spain’s 6 points are enough to assure them of being in League A of next edition’s Nations League. The match between England and Croatia is a winner-takes-it-all game as the winner will qualify for the Nations League Finals while the loser will face relegation to League B of next season’s Nations League.

Despite winning convincingly against USA, Gareth Southgate believes that England need to improve ahead of Sunday’s game at Wembley. He said, “I didn’t like us without the ball as much. At times we pressed really well, but at times they got through us too easily. At the end we didn’t play with discipline, we were caught in transition and we were wide open. If we do that on Sunday, we will lose.

We haven’t had that discussion because Wayne gave a really nice speech at the end of the game and I didn’t want to rain on his parade but I will be making that point clear over the next couple of days. If we want to be a top team, we cannot just get to 3-0 and play with the ball and not without it and not play with intelligence. If we’re going to ruthless we have to do that right the way through the game.

Croatia have shown not only their quality but their resilience to win [against Spain] in the 93rd minute. It’s brilliant, it sets up a really good finish to the year here [at Wembley]. I think it was already a sell-out crowd and it’s a game with plenty riding on it, which is the sort of test we want.

We’ve got two days to prepare. That was one of the reasons we played the team we did tonight. We will look at their game from tonight just to see how they approached it against Spain but we know pretty much all there is to know about Croatia.”

Their desire and mentality is brilliant and we know tonight will have given them a huge boost. They will look forward to coming to Wembley. We know the game at home to them without a crowd was as difficult for them as it was for us. But coming to a full house at Wembley they will have big players that will relish that challenge. We have to relish that as well.”

England’s previous match against Croatia ended in a 0-0 draw but England were the superior team by far. However, the win against Spain has given Croatia a major confidence boost and they’ll give England a tough fight.

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