Southgate: 'We want to be positive' in Euros play-off

Tuesday 14 Oct 2014
Gareth Southgate's side take a 2-1 lead into the second leg in Croatia
England Under-21s boss Gareth Southgate says his side will be approaching Tuesday’s Euro decider in a positive manner.

The Three Lions take a 2-1 lead into the second leg of their tie with Croatia in Vinkovci, following Friday’s win in Wolverhampton.

Southgate knows that if his players can avoid defeat in the second game then that will be enough to take them into next summer’s Euro Finals in Czech Republic.

Croatia U21s v England U21s

UEFA Euro U21 Championship
Play-off second leg
5pm (BST), Tuesday 14 October 2014
Stadion HNK Cibalia, Vinkovci
Live on BT Sport

But given the footballing nature and attacking instinct within his squad, the head coach believes in going out to play in the same manner as they have done throughout the campaign so far.

"We want to be positive," said Southgate.

"We think we’ve got good players and a good attacking threat.

"We controlled the game at home and we’ve got to have the ambition of doing that here as well.

"Obviously, Croatia will be lifted by their home support and they know they performed really well at our place so there’s a bit of work to be done and I’m sure we’re going to be tested in every department.

"But we feel confident that we can do the job."

All 21 players in Southgate’s group trained at the Stadion HNK Cibalia on Monday evening after travelling from St. George’s Park earlier in the day.

Both Michael Keane (hamstring) and Will Hughes (ankle) have been given the all-clear after assessment and treatment of knocks picked up in Friday’s game at Molineux.

And Southgate expects changes from Croatia, whose senior team beat Azerbaijan by 6-0 on Monday night in nearby Osijek with a number of the players on duty still eligible for the Under-21s.

England U21s prior to kick-off against Croatia

The England team which started in the first leg last Friday


"It’s been difficult to piece their team together because they’ve made a lot of changes in the last few months," he revealed.

"And it could be the same on Tuesday as they’ve got a couple of players named in the senior squad who are due to play for the seniors and may move down to the Under-21s.

"But we have to be prepared for every possibility and focus on what we’re about.

"We’re a possession-based team who want to control matches with an attacking threat and we’ve got to do that in the game."

With a sell-out crowd expected in Vinkovci, there should be a lively atmosphere for the match and Southgate knows his players will have to be prepared for that.

But with the prospect of a spot in the Finals at stake next summer, there is a great prize at the end of it if England can produce as result against a strong Croatian outfit and a passionate home crowd.

"That’s something which we’ve spoken about as a group leading into the game," added Southgate.

"These are the scenarios that we’ve got to get right and we did that in the first game.

"We talked about possible things that might happen in the first game and we were well prepared so it will be the same for Tuesday.

"We want to qualify, that’s what we’re aiming for and hopefully we can do that tomorrow night with the win and secure our place in the Championships next year."

England Under-21s boss speaks about the secong leg in Croatia.


By Nicholas Veevers Content Manager - FA Owned Channels in Vinkovci, Croatia