DESTINY IN SOUTH­GATE

Sunday Express - - EURO 2020 DRAW - From Steve Bates in Bucharest

SE­COND PLACE could be just the ticket for Eng­land next sum­mer – to smooth their pas­sage towem­b­ley glory. The Three Li­ons were handed a friendly draw, with Group D games against Croa­tia and the Czech Repub­lic and one of four play-off hope­fuls – Scot­land,

Is­rael, Ser­bia and Nor­way.

But if Gareth

South­gate’s stars top their sec­tion they face a round of 16 clash with world cham­pi­ons

France, reign­ing Euro kings Por­tu­gal or tour­na­ment spe­cial­ists

Ger­many in Dublin.

Fin­ish­ing se­cond, though, gives Eng­land an eas­ier route and they would face the run­ners-up of Group E, which in­cludes Spain, Swe­den and Poland.

South­gate isn’t a fan of tac­ti­cal plot­ting to engi­neer a cushier route – and he in­sisted last night his play­ers want to storm through their group to build vi­tal mo­men­tum.

“I think ev­ery­one went through that in Rus­sia,” he said. “It was a bit like do we want to be top seeds for this draw. In the end, we want to win ev­ery game we play and have con­trol of our destiny, then for­tune will take you wher­ever it takes you.

“You need a strat­egy of get­ting out of the group – there are three games, not one.

“The two teams we know in Croa­tia and the Czechs, we have had good results and poor results against them.

“It’s noth­ing to be com­pla­cent about but ev­ery­one not drawn in Group F (the ‘Group of Death’) will be pleased about that!

“But Croa­tia atwem­b­ley is a bril­liant open­ing game for the fans and the play­ers.”

South­gate was a player in 1996 when Eng­land hosted the tour­na­ment and were beaten in a semi-fi­nal penalty shoot-out by Ger­many.

And he wants to tap into the wild sup­port Eng­land fans whipped up 24 years ago.

“We can’t ask our fans not to get ex­cited or en­joy them­selves. This is a sum­mer to be cher­ished and en­joyed.

“We are at

Wem­b­ley. We want to make Wem­b­ley some­where teams fear com­ing.we do that by the lev­els of our per­for­mance and the at­mos­phere.”

Eng­land have the chance of­world Cup re­venge over

Croa­tia whose fans taunted South­gate and his stars by singing ‘It’s com­ing home’ in

Rus­sia.

But boss Zlatko

Dalic reck­ons it could be Eng­land’s year.

“Eng­land now is a fan­tas­tic team,” he said.

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