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Southgate: England Must Elevate Performance to Achieve Euros Goal

England manager Gareth Southgate remains committed to his objective of winning Euro 2024, but acknowledges that the team must significantly improve when they face Slovenia on Tuesday.

Despite securing four points from their first two games, England’s performances in a 1-0 win over Serbia and a 1-1 draw with Denmark have been heavily criticized, falling short of their pre-tournament favorite status. “We’ve always known we are one of the teams that can win the tournament,” Southgate stated in a pre-match press conference. “We haven’t changed our objectives. To achieve that, we have to show a different level than what we have so far.”

Under Southgate’s leadership, England has reached a final, semi-final, and quarter-final in the last three major tournaments. However, this has not shielded him from criticism after a lackluster start to a tournament many hoped would end a 58-year title drought.

“I don’t think the performances over the last two matches reflect how we’ve played over the last few years,” Southgate added. “We’ve had a short period where we’re not performing at the level we want to. Our performance will have to speak for itself. It’s important to answer the questions, but ultimately, I will be judged on the way the team plays. I understand and am comfortable with that.”

Slovenia, having drawn their first two games, need a result in Cologne to keep their hopes of reaching the last 16 alive. England’s Declan Rice emphasized the threat posed by Slovenia striker Benjamin Sesko, who was linked with Arsenal before extending his contract with RB Leipzig. “I have watched Slovenia and they have been really good. They have strong, fast players. The main talking point is Sesko—he’s been a massive target for clubs around Europe,” said Rice. “They are going to come at us and try to win and shock the world.”

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Captain Harry Kane responded to critics, including former England striker Gary Lineker, who he felt overreacted to the team’s struggles. Kane pointed out that neither Lineker nor former captain Alan Shearer won anything with England.

Southgate has distanced himself from media coverage during the tournament to focus on preparing the team. “A few years ago, I would have read and listened to things,” he said. “Now, I cut myself off to maintain focus. It allows me to be composed and improve the team.”

Southgate is expected to make at least one change from the Denmark match, with Conor Gallagher likely replacing Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield. Although Luke Shaw joined team training for the first time in Germany, he is not yet fit to feature at left-back.