Southgate not really relishing playing behind closed doors


Date published: Sunday 7th October 2018 12:01

Boss Gareth Southgate wishes England could face hostility in Croatia instead of stadium silence. There is a middle ground, you know, Gareth?

The Three Lions head to Rijeka on Friday in the Nations League with the game being played behind closed doors.

Croatia are being punished by UEFA after a swastika was burned onto the pitch ahead of their Euro 2016 tie with Italy in 2015.

It is the first time England have played Croatia since the heartbreaking 2-1 World Cup semi-final defeat in July and Southgate would prefer a rough reception.

He said: “In some way I’d like our players to be experiencing going there with the stadium bouncing and Croatia reminding us of what happened in the summer.

“I could then say to the players go and deal with it, but we haven’t got that. We’ve got a different sort of experience and we’ve got to make sure we apply ourselves in the right way.

“I think the lads will still know they’re playing for England. In some venues in the past their would have been smallish attendances, you just have to adapt and adjust.

“The quality of the opponent is really high so we will have enough of a challenge. My preference would be for a full stadium but that isn’t the case so we adapt.

“It’ll be the first time I’ve ever been in a game like that, it will be a very different feel, unique.”