DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Their World Cup head-to-head recordas England manager Gareth Southgate duly noted, is for the United States.
That’s correct. The Americans beat England 1-0 at the 1950 World Cup and the teams played to a 1-1 draw in 2010.
Their next game is next Friday in Qatar, and Southgate was telling his players to go out and finally get one back.
“Have we ever beaten the States in a major tournament?” Southgate asked during his pre-game press conference. “No, I didn’t think so. So we have to try to make history tomorrow.”
Southgate also poked fun at England’s reputation for building expectations as they seek their first World Cup since their only tournament win in 1966.
“We’re good at that,” Southgate said. “We are good at speaking highly of ourselves as a nation on the basis of very little evidence. So what we have to do is perform on the field. We know we’re going to play against a highly motivated team.
“But we have great respect for our opponent. We know a lot of players from our league. We have to do our best. The risk is that we think because we played well the other day we can just get into the next game.”
The England team should get a boost if striker Harry Kane is available for the Group B game. Kane, the top scorer at the 2018 World Cup, failed to score in the team’s first 6-2 win over Iran but injured his left ankle.
“Harry is fine,” Southgate said. “It would be a brave decision to leave him out of the starting XI (lineup).”
England should also have Harry Maguire back after the defender left the opening game blurry.
At the moment he is trying to focus on the World Cup and not on the upheaval at Manchester United.
“I’m here with England,” said the defender. “I’m playing at a World Cup – the biggest tournament in the world. It was easy for me to keep distractions away. I’m totally focused on winning every game I play for my country.”
A lot has happened at his club since Maguire flew to Qatar with the rest of the England squad. Team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo has had his contract terminated after an explosive interview in which he criticized manager Erik ten Hag, the club’s owners and some players. News was quickly followed that the Glazer family is ready to put United up for sale as they seek outside investment.
“Yes, obviously there’s a lot of talk going on at the club at the moment,” Maguire said, “but I’ve been totally focused on England and that’s my priority.”
Maguire, whose poor form at United saw him dropped by Ten Hag, has been a key figure in England’s success in their last two tournaments – reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and the final of last year’s European Championships, which they lost on penalties against Italy.
“Obviously it’s a great privilege to be selected for your country,” said Maguire, who will make his 50th international appearance against the United States. “It is the pinnacle of any football career to play for your country in major tournaments, especially World Cups. It’s the biggest tournament in the world.”
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