Five talking points from England's pre-World Cup quarter final press conference

Friday 06 Jul 2018
Gareth Southgate (left) and Harry Kane answer questions in a press conference in Samara

England manager Gareth Southgate and captain Harry Kane spoke to the media ahead of the Three Lions’ World Cup quarter final against Sweden.

And here are five talking points from the pair’s press conference in Samara:

One game at a time

England are just one win away from a first World Cup semi-final appearance since 1990 – and fans across the country are on the crest of a wave.

But Southgate and Kane tried to temper the euphoria and insisted they are not looking any further than Saturday’s last-eight clash.

Sweden v England
  • 2018 FIFA World Cup
  • Quarter final
  • 3pm BST, Saturday 7 July
  • Samara Stadium, Russia
  • Live on BBC One
Southgate said: “We came into this tournament as the least-experienced team. We’re one of the youngest teams in it but we’re an improving side who want to make history.

“We’ve already [achieved] our first knockout win in [12] years, first win in a penalty shootout at a World Cup [and the] highest number of goals scored in one game.

“We want to keep making that history. We’re hugely ambitious but there’s nothing in our mind other than tomorrow’s game.”

Kane added: “We’re not thinking about being world champions. We’ve still got a long way to go. This is the second half of the tournament.

“This game tomorrow is going to be massive. We’ve done great up until now but it’s just another step we’ve got to overcome. We’re just looking forward to the challenge.”

Penalty pain eased

England’s win over Colombia was their first-ever World Cup penalty shootout success – and breaking that hoodoo is a huge relief to the current crop of Three Lions players.

Kane explained: “We’ve had so much heartache as a country in knockout games and penalty shootouts. So for us, a young, inexperienced team, to overcome that, to get through the penalty shootout is massive.

“It will just give us huge belief if we’re in that moment again.

“We know this game could go all the way to penalties and at least we’ve got that in the bank now. We know we can come through the other side.”

Stubborn Sweden

Sweden are one of the tournament’s surprise quarter finalists, but having beaten France and finished above the Netherlands in qualifying, dismissed Italy in the play-offs and finished above holders Germany in the group stage, Janne Andersson's side have certainly earned their stripes.

They may not have a star player in the mould of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but their strength lies in their team ethic.

Southgate celebrates after England's win over Colombia

Southgate explained: “They’re a very strong team. Their team always has a strong identity and better players than people sometimes give them credit for.

“They are obviously a very strong side and one that we will have to play really against to beat.

“The ‘goals against’ record in their qualifiers, in their friendlies and in this tournament tell you how well organised they are.

“The organisation of the team is the key in that. The team work together to limit opportunities and they defend their box really well. We know the challenge we face.”

Kane said: “Defensively they are very strong, very compact. They have had some great results and that’s all down to [the strength of their] team.

“I wouldn’t say they have got loads of individuals that stand out. The best thing about them is that they stick together on the pitch.

“We know it’s going to be a very tough game so we have to be very focused.

“They have had a great tournament so far and they are strong in all parts of the game.

“People will say that we have better individuals [than Sweden] and we play for bigger clubs but in tournament football that doesn’t matter.”

Kane is the top scorer at the World Cup with six goals

Proud as punch

The Three Lions’ run to the last eight has prompted scenes of celebration not seen in England since Euro 96.

Social media is awash with videos of jubilant fans proudly and vociferously backing their team in Russia – and Southgate and Kane want to give them even more to shout about.

“If we can continue to excite everybody at home and make them proud, as the players have done up to now, then that’s a rewarding thing for us all,” said Southgate.

Kane added: “After the games we always see the videos going round on social media.

“I was one of those fans getting drinks thrown over him, jumping about and going wild not too long ago.

“It’s what we want. We set out to make the country proud and we feel like we’ve done that so far.

“We want to keep seeing those videos. Hopefully we can [win] tomorrow and we’ll see a few more. That’s what it’s about; it’s about bringing the whole country together and seeing them enjoying it like they are is massive for us.”

Band of Brothers

Public sentiment towards this particular England squad is extremely positive. Results on the pitch are a key driver, but it’s seemingly the atmosphere within the camp that has really captured the imagination – something the skipper is very proud of.

He said: “We’re like family. We spend a lot of time together and we get on very well.

“I spoke before the tournament about the togetherness but we always want to prove it on the pitch. We’ve done that so far and that’s just made us even stronger.

“We have worked so hard, so to come through the [Colombia] game makes us even more proud of each other.

“I look at them like my brothers and we’d do anything for each other.”

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By Glenn Lavery