England’s World Cup squad arrived at their base in Qatar on Tuesday night to begin preparing for the tournament.
Southgate’s 26-man squad met up at St George’s Park on Monday before flying out to Qatar on Tuesday.
England flew on a plane called ‘Rainbow’ – noteworthy given the host country’s oppressive laws and treatment of LGBTQ+ people – and touched down in Doha at around 8 pm local time.
Argentina’s Wednesday night splash
Lionel Messi was on target as Argentina warmed up for the World Cup with a 5-0 rout of the United Arab Emirates.
Manchester City forward Julian Alvarez opened the scoring after being teed-up by Messi in the 17th minute before Angel Di Maria netted a quick-fire brace.
Messi then struck his 91st goal for his country. Joaquin Correa added a fifth on the hour mark as one of the favorites for the tournament in Qatar played their final match before the Group C opener against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
Niclas Fullkrug’s debut goal was the only one of the game, giving Germany a 1-0 victory over Oman in Muscat.
The 29-year-old Werder Bremen forward was set up by Chelsea’s Kai Havertz to score with 10 minutes remaining.
Borussia Dortmund forward Youssoufa Moukoko, at 17 years and 361 days old, became Germany’s youngest debutant since 1954.
Croatia edged out Saudi Arabia and won their only match during the 2018 World Cup Wednesday night, as they’re headed home after a semi-final run.
Andrej Kramaric’s late winner finally settled the cagey contest, but he only replaced debutant Toni Kroos in injury time.
Sven on Southgate
Despite leading England to the World Cup semi-final four years ago and winning the Euro 2020 final, Gareth Southgate has come in for criticism. Criticism is seldom just, yet he played a pivotal role in England’s success.
But Erikksson, however, insisted: “It was a fantastic show he did. You shouldn’t complain.
“Some people sometimes call Fabio a little bit on the defensive, but he’s constantly improving. I think he will do even better at this World Cup.”
“Is he too defensive? No. It’s not that easy. There are three group games in a week, very important games. On paper, it might look easy, but if you don’t win the first game against Iran, the pressure will be enormous.”
“But then it’s the United States; they’ll fight too. There are born fighters, you know! And then there’s Wales – tough opponent.”
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Sven loves Kane
Harry Kane was all but the vital cog in their qualification for the World Cup, and I believe he may be the key to success. Former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson believes that.
The young, dynamic attacking options of England’s squad – Phil Foden, James Maddison, Bukayo Saka, and Jack Grealish – will be tested against some top-notch opposition in Qatar.
But England and Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane said during the World Cup, “if we want to win, it’s about everyone doing their job. That means taking our performances up a level and being mentally strong.”
“Harry Kane is going to score the goals,” says Eriksson. “He’ll be the one we hope to get our goals, and if he’s in good shape, England will be able to pull it off.”
England can accomplish the task if the rest of the players are fit and at their best. But if Steven Gerrard feels up to it, they can easily do it.
Southgate has a lot of options when it comes to selecting his team. He has plenty of players to choose from, and they are all good enough to make the starting lineup.