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'We've got to nail it' - Southgate believes 'mentality' will be key as England prepare for France World Cup quarter-final challenge

15:54 GMT+4 10/12/2022
Gareth Southgate England 2022
Gareth Southgate has urged his England players to be up to the challenge of Saturday's blockbuster World Cup quarter-final against France.
  • England face France in quarter-final
  • Southgate stressed right mentality needed
  • Feels team has matured from 2018, Euro 2020

WHAT HAPPENED? England are yet to beat an elite-level nation in the knockout stages of a major tournament away from home soil, and the Three Lions boss stressed the need for maturity gained from experiences in 2018 and at Euro 2020. Southgate underlined that the tactical preparations were in place to face holders France, but highlighted the importance of mastering the mental side of a game of such magnitude.

WHAT THEY SAID: “The biggest thing is going to be our mentality,” the England head coach told reporters. “We’ll be tactically prepared. But on these nights you’ve got to have men that stand up and take on the challenge. That’s the bit we’ve got to prove. We’ve had some outstanding nights and the next game is always the most important. It’s against a good level of opponent, one we’re ready for.

“One, if you’d asked me four years ago were we quite ready, I’m not sure. Now I feel differently and that’s because we’ve got evidence over a long period of results. Historically we have always talked well, but the evidence wasn’t there. Now we’ve got more evidence and we’ve got to nail this type of game now.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Before Southgate took over, England had won just six knockout matches between 1968 and 2016. Between 2018 and 2022, the current Three Lions boss has the same amount of wins to his name, although he will be hoping to add to that in Saturday's match in Al Khor. England are joint-top scorers in Qatar along with Portugal but face the sternest test of perhaps Southgate's entire career, coming up against a France side which boasts a prolific partnership up front.

IN THREE PHOTOS:

DID YOU KNOW? Saturday's quarter-final will be the first meeting between the two nations in the knockout stages of a major tournament (World Cup or European Championship).

WHAT NEXT? A win for England will set up a semi-final against either Morocco or Portugal who play earlier on Saturday, which would be Southgate's third successive last-four appearance at a major tournament.