Gareth Southgate on World Cup exit & gameplan vs France

Jack Gallagher
Southgate has discussed the defeat to France
Southgate has discussed the defeat to France / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Gareth Southgate has discussed England's World Cup quarter-final exit to France, stating that the game 'was exactly' what the Three Lions had prepared for.

Southgate's England played well on Saturday night but ultimately succumbed to a 2-1 defeat after Harry Kane missed a late penalty.

Speaking to Sky Sports one day after the heartbreaking loss, Southgate said: It's a really strange feeling because the end of a tournament is so stark. Everyone's packing everything up, you go through years of preparation and then there's that feeling - there's the feeling that we were so close and there was a level of performance that I was so happy with.

"There's the disappointing feeling that we could've gone on and done more, and yet I really have very few regrets about the whole thing. So yeah, emotionally, it's a rollercoaster.

When asked how the squad is doing after the defeat, Southgate replied: "They're flat really. The things I've just spoken about they know, they know they played well. Of course in sport it feels so binary, winning and losing, but when you're coaching a team and when you're working with a team you've got to take a different view to that.

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"The way they've progressed and the way they've developed individually, the challenges they've overcome as a group, the group of players who haven't necessarily started many games have been absolutely phenomenal. I think sometimes people think that we just talk about that in order to try and keep people happy but it's the reality of what we have here.

"We've now got some very young players who have a lot of big match experience already, and the core of a group who are going to be together, and be together, for a long while.

Southgate also took the time to give his thoughts on how the game played out and how a '30 second period' proved to be the difference between the two sides:

"The game was exactly as we prepared for it. We knew that we were likely to have more of the ball, we know that France, a lot of the time, will wait and they want to hit you on counter-attacks so positionally you've got to be so disciplined.

"We were for the majority of the game, we didn't get that totally right all the time but, for the majority of the game, we got the right balance. A 30 second period can turn your life upside down.

Despite the defeat, the England manager hailed his squad's ability to fight their way back into the game after going behind early on:

"It's why, when we went behind, that they had the character to come through. It's a game where you're a goal behind, the opposition are dangerous on the counter, I think without a doubt a few years ago we could've been overwhelmed in a game like that but we rode that period and we really dominated the second half especially.

"That comes from the spirit that's there and, in a moment like today where some individuals will be particularly hurting because they will feel the responsibility - they shouldn't feel that way, we've been through too much as a team.

"Ultimately we've fallen short, I can't get away from that and I also have to accept that but we're feeding at the top table of world and European football consistently now and if we're in that place [with the] depth of the squad we've got then that's exciting and important for England."