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Winning Euros is no easier than World Cup, insists Southgate

6:21 PM EST 11/17/19
Gareth Southgate England 2019
The Three Lions may have sailed through the qualifying phase, but their coach is still unsure about their chances against the continent's top teams

England manager Gareth Southgate believes his side are heading into Euro 2020 in better shape than they were before the World Cup, but insists winning the competition will be just as difficult.

Southgate's England secured Euro 2020 qualification with minimal fuss, winning seven of their eight matches and scoring a whopping 37 goals.

Eleven of those goals have come in their past two matches, with Thursday's 7-0 demolition of Montenegro followed up by Sunday's comfortable 4-0 triumph away to Kosovo.

England, who reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, secured their spot at next year's tournament on Thursday, and Southgate is impressed by the standard his players are at, but he is not sure how they will fare against the top contenders.

"What we don't know, because we haven't had those tests more recently against the top eight or 10 [nations], is exactly how we're going to cope in those moments, and to win the European Championship is, at the moment, no easier than the World Cup," he told reporters on Sunday.

"The final four at the World Cup were all European and you've got to add Spain, Germany, Portugal and all the others into that. It's a really high-level tournament."

Southgate appears to have settled on a first-choice front trio of Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling, with the former pair netting in both matches this week.

Sterling returned to the starting XI on Sunday after being dropped as a result of his spat with Joe Gomez and, while he was somewhat below his best, he set up Rashford's strike with a driving run and pass.

"I would say that we're definitely further ahead than we were heading into the Russia World Cup but we made massive strides in this period [between the end of World Cup qualifying and the finals]," he added.

"We've got to make sure that to get the level of performance next summer, we have to improve in the way that we did over that spell.

"I think the team have belief, for sure. You can see the confidence. They don't come into these matches worrying about what might go wrong. They've got the confidence to control games with possession and they know they're going to score goals.

"We've got to have some confidence about what we're doing. That said, we've got a lot to keep improving on and we know that. None of us are complacent in any way.

"We keep pushing the players for the fine details of the game all the time and they want that. They're hungry for that, which is a really good sign for us.

"Our forward players and I mean, Raheem [Sterling], Harry [Kane], Marcus [Rashford] are so exciting to work with. Then, with the younger ones that are supporting that.

"They thrive from each other, they create for each other, they are all scoring goals – which wasn't the case 18 months ago, particularly for Marcus and Raheem, but they work so hard for the team. That's, for me, the biggest thing."