Gareth Southgate won’t be trying to sell the UEFA Nations League as an equal to major tournament success but says his England squad can learn the “winning habit” if they hoist a trophy this week.
The Three Lions, World Cup semi-finalists last summer in Russia, face the Netherlands in a semi-final on Thursday evening, with the winners to meet hosts Portugal on Sunday.
Cristiano Ronaldo fired a hat-trick against Switzerland on Wednesday as the Portuguese came through that test as 3-1 winners.
For Southgate and England, the Nations League Finals offer a chance to grow the confidence they gained last summer in Russia, and while he’s got no qualms about the pecking order of international success, the manager knows it is important that his side does well this week.
“We know the batting order is the World Cup then the Euros, but now we have a new competition and we want to be in the habit of starting to win things,” said Southgate.
“It is time for us to try and challenge for some trophies and this represents a great chance to show how far we are building as a team. It’s remarkable how far we have come, but we still have a long way to go.
“It would be massive for all of us in England to start winning trophies and winning big matches. This is the habit we want and the expectation we want to create.”
England are favourites at 2.40 for their clash with the Netherlands. Ronald Koeman’s side are 3.00 and the draw is 3.20.