‘We left everything out there’, says England manager Southgate

England head coach Gareth Southgate, comforts his players after their World Cup exit. (AFP)
Updated 12 July 2018
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‘We left everything out there’, says England manager Southgate

  • England rue the fact they did not cash in on first-half dominance
  • 'We have to be proud of what we’ve achieved.'

MOSCOW: Manager Gareth Southgate said England “left everything out there” after falling to an extra-time defeat by Croatia in the World Cup semifinal on Wednesday.
England were hoping to reach a first World Cup final since 1966, but let an early lead slip to lose 2-1.
“I think in the first half we were really good and maybe we could have got another goal,” Southgate told ITV.
“I can’t ask for more from the players. I think knockout football is about fine margins and when you have good spells against fine sides you need to take your chances.
“Tonight we weren’t quite there but we will learn from that. We left everything out there.”
Southgate said the players were deeply disappointed, but that his young team could achieve great things in the years to come, with the European Championship just two years away.
“It’s impossible to say anything to make the players feel better at this moment in time,” he said.
“We have to be proud of what we’ve achieved. I don’t think anyone could have given any more.
“Players had run out of steam but that’s partly their age — they’re still physically maturing. Croatia have hardened warriors whose understanding of big matches at times came to the fore.
“The players have to go through big matches and experiences to become a team that can win. They have to use this experience for benefit and I know that what’s happened over the last few weeks will make them a stronger team.”


Harry Kane looks set to claim the Golden Boot as the World Cup’s leading scorer, but the Tottenham star rarely looked like adding to his six goals against Croatia.
“I think he’s given absolutely everything for the team,” Southgate said of the 24-year-old England captain.
“I think now is the time for us to be strong as a group and take the time to reflect on the performance a little bit over the next couple of days.
“He’s captained the team brilliantly over the tournament and I can’t ask for more from him.”
It was England’s best performance at a major tournament since Southgate was part of the team that reached the semifinals at Euro ‘96.
England arrived at this World Cup with the least experienced squad in terms of caps, but Southgate said the agony of losing was just as strong despite surpassing limited expectations.
“We all feel the pain of the defeat. Did we expect to be in this position? I don’t think realistically any of us did,” he said.
“But when you’ve got to this point, and we’ve played as well as we have, you want to take those opportunities in life.”
“There will in time be a lot of positives to take,” he added. “It’s very hard to put that into context and a bit too soon really, because I think you have to suffer the result a little bit. It’s too easy to move on quickly.”
England will return to their Repino base near Saint Petersburg ahead of Saturday’s third place play-off against Belgium, a repeat of their final group match.
“The honest thing is it’s not a game any team wants to play,” Southgate admitted. “We have two days to prepare and we’ll want to give a performance of huge pride.
“Of course it’s going to be a really difficult task over the next 24 hours to get everyone mentally back to where we want them for a game like that. That will be the challenge.”


Why Juventus could prove to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s toughest, most rewarding challenge yet

Updated 20 July 2018
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Why Juventus could prove to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s toughest, most rewarding challenge yet

  • Portuguese superstar has moved to Italian giants in deal worth nearly $120 million
  • Ronaldo scored 450 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid

LONDON: Love him or loathe him, you have to admire Cristiano Ronaldo’s character.
At a time of life when lesser mortals are lured by big paychecks to the likes of Qatar or China, the mercurial Madeiran has opted for what will be his biggest challenge yet at Juventus.
His career over the last decade has been played out under the cloud of the never-ending debate — “Ronaldo or Messi; who is better?”
Thankfully, that circus was quietened somewhat at the recent World Cup. Some flashes of pure brilliance aside, neither player made a big enough impact to lead their respective teams to glory and Messi’s wait for an international trophy goes on.
And, while both players are undeniably in a league of their own, the fact Ronaldo does have a European Championship title under his belt will always tip the argument toward the Portuguese — especially for those who measure greatness in statistics and trophies.
In fairness, Ronaldo’s statistics are mind-boggling. His stint at Manchester United, where he cut his teeth and started to show his potential as a great of the game, was instrumental in the club winning three Premier League titles and their third European crown. His staggering 450 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid saw him become the Spanish giant’s record goalscorer on his way to winning everything under the sun.
But the Premier League and La Liga are leagues in which attacking footballers flourish. With the dawning of wall-to-wall TV coverage, they have both been transformed to entertain the billions of people who tune in every week — and in this day and age, goalscoring superstars win you fans, not defenses.
The art of defending has all-but disappeared and the culture of building a spine through a team has slowly but surely been eroded away. Nobody wants to watch an engrossing, absorbing, end-to-end goalless draw anymore — it is all about 6-5 thrillers.
But not so in Italy.
Serie A, for all its scandals and fall from grace since its heady days of the 1990s, is still an extremely difficult league to win. It is a league in which fans and managers place great emphasis on defending, on building teams from back-to-front (not the other way around) and on the mentality of “you cannot lose if you don’t concede.”
Granted, Juventus have walked Serie A for the past seven seasons; it is to be expected from one of the richest clubs in the world. But rarely have they won it at a canter. Never once have they scored anywhere near 100 goals in a season to win it — unlike Manchester City in last season’s Premier League, or Barcelona and Real Madrid almost every season in the same period.
And not once has Serie A’s top-goalscorer reached the dizzying heights Ronaldo (and Messi) hit in La Liga season after season, nor has it always been a Juventus player claiming the golden boot.
This all points to a monumental challenge for Ronaldo. On paper, he should not find it as easy to score goals in Serie A and with the marked improvement of Napoli, Roma and Lazio recently, nor will it be an easy ride for Juventus to claim an eighth scudetto in a row this year.
So, while Messi prefers to stay in one country and within his comfort zone of the defense-shy Spanish league, if a 30-something Ronaldo succeeds in Italy — or, better yet, guides Juventus to the European glory the fans crave so much — it would be his most remarkable achievement yet.
And it would put the tiresome debate over who is the greatest ever to bed, once and for all.
No contest.