Gareth Southgate warns England of 'direct' Brazil

Sunday 25 May 2014
Southgate has warned his players to expect a more direct approach from Brazil
Gareth Southgate has warned his players to expect something of a surprise when they line-up against Brazil on Monday night.

The Three Lions take on the South Americans in their second game of the Toulon Tournament and part of the squad’s preparation involved telling Southgate and his staff what they expect to face from the Brazilians.

England v Brazil

The Toulon Tournament
6.30pm, Monday 26 May 2014
Stade Louis Hon, St. Raphael
Live on BT Sport

 


And they were shocked when they were shown exactly what is likely to lie in store for them when they come face-to-face in St. Raphael.

"I spoke to the players and asked them all what they thought about the game, because it’s the one that they’re looking forward to the most," explained Southgate.

"They all said flair and skills, and I’m not saying there isn’t a bit of that, with full-backs flying forward but there is a lot of big, diagonal balls into the forwards, who are big and ready to knock people about.

"So they’re not what you might have expected and they have been quite direct in their games so far.

"The perception is that South American football is all flair, but actually, they get it up there to four forwards and then they flood bodies forward.

"They’re strong, athletic and they’re quick. They don’t mind breaking the play up and they go to win. 

England Under-21s observe the national anthem before playing Qatar in Toulon.

England are preparing to face Brazil in their second game in Toulon

 

"But if we played a lot of the balls they do, that I’ve shown to the lads, people would think it’s an old-style English back-to-front with two strikers challenging.

"The key for us is that we’re not playing against Pele, Ronaldo or Romario, it’s their group of U20s against our group of U20s."

Southgate played against Brazil himself in 1997, when he was part of the England squad which won ‘Le Tournoi’, ironically on French soil a year before the '98 World Cup.

The Brazil team that day contained a strike force of Ronaldo and Romario, at a time when Southgate readily admits he was "distracted by reputations." 

But the former Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough defender quickly learnt that the tradition of chasing players to swap shirts after a game was never something he liked to place too much emphasis on.

And he would encourage his players now to take up a similar mindset at an early stage in their own careers.

Highlights of England's win over Qatar last week

 


"I never wanted to give an opponent a psychological edge by letting them know that I was desperate to get his shirt, so I have a cupboard full of full-backs and defensive midfielders," joked Southgate.

"But I was never chasing people around, as they’ll know they’ve got you because you don’t think you’re as good as he is as you want his shirt - the psychology of that is important really.

"We’re not tourists here, we’re not souvenir collectors and the best feeling will be to beat them."

One thing which the head coach is looking forward to though, is seeing his players really challenged by their opponents.

After a season which has been spent largely trying to break down defensive-minded nations in their Euro qualifiers, Southgate knows that Brazil will give his side a real test.

England Under-21s boss Gareth Southgate speaks to the press at St. George

Southgate is looking forward to the challenge his side will face against Brazil

 

"We’re enjoying the different challenges here, as we’ve had the same challenges so far this season," he admitted. 

"So who we play isn’t of any relevance, it’s that we’re going to play a team who are going to come at us and can we defend or hit them in a different way?

"They will press us more and we’ll have to beat the initial press and then go and attack them, so it’s a different challenge.

"It’s a game to look forward to because it’s a proper game of football, which we haven’t really had this season.

"There will be different problems for defenders and more opportunities for us to work at.

"But if we’re going just to swap shirts or look at what they do, well forget all of that, because we’re there to win a game of football and break down some barriers of perception."

By Nicholas Veevers in Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer, France