England’s Gareth Southgate warns of dangers of ‘intriguing’ World Cup draw | World Cup 2022
For Gareth Southgate, the moment of danger in the World Cup draw came when Lothar Matthäus reached the second ball in pot two. England were already settled in Group B and everyone knew the ex-Germany captain could pull out his own nation to make things quite spicy.
Southgate must have felt scrambled. His mid-afternoon flight from Heathrow on Thursday had been delayed by eight hours, meaning he landed in Doha at 8.30am on Friday, “which was good because my first meeting was not before nine o’clock,” the England manager said. with a smile. Now he could feel a note of real tension. And then it happened because Matthäus unrolled a sheet bearing the name of the United States.
Shortly after, the 1990 World Cup winner put Germany with Spain and, if Germany coach Hansi Flick tried to look impassive from his seat at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre, it was certainly a bit of a battle. Danke, Lothar.
Southgate were close to securing another favorable draw, with the impression hardening when Iran emerged as England’s third opponents. The fourth will be Wales, Scotland or Ukraine, depending on what happens in the final European qualifiers, scheduled for June, although everyone is mainly thinking of the end of Russia’s insane offensive against Ukraine.
“This game is going to be very emotional, whoever it is,” Southgate said. “We all know where our thoughts go with Ukraine and we have to see if they are even able to play or not. of tournaments recently. They become unique games. The form is totally out of the window.
Spain and Germany agree with Japan. Argentina, Mexico and Poland will face Group C. And there is danger in Group H, which includes Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia and Cameroon.
At the very least, Southgate knew it could have been much worse, even if his side had led some of their luck by getting into the first seed pot – a legacy of their runs at the previous World Cup semi-finals and Euro 2020 final. For these tournaments, Southgate’s side had secured good draws in the group stage before the later stages opened up for them. The third time is the charm.
“It’s intriguing, isn’t it?” said Southgate. “Because we never played against Iran and then the United States… I met Gregg Berhalter [the USA manager] a lot recently, so we had good discussions and he improved them considerably. This is one of those groups where you think some of the ties are potentially trickier than just ranking. It is always a danger.
England defender Kyle Walker was a bit more direct in his assessment. “You must be happy with the squads we have drawn,” said Walker, back in England. “I hope it won’t bring any surprises. I’m happy with the teams.
Nobody was unaware that the draw took place on April Fool’s Day, with all the problems associated with hosting Qatar. And the ceremony certainly took on a surreal twist from the start when, under migraine-inducing ultraviolet lights, the official mascot was revealed – a small, white-flying, floating ghost.
La’eeb (an Arabic word meaning super talented player) inhabits a parallel virtual world, where the mascots of the previous tournament also live. The big screens showed La’eeb traveling there with a virtual version of RedOne, Fifa’s creative entertainment director. There was polite applause at the end of the section.
Southgate’s headache involves the sharp turnaround between the Premier League season break on November 13 and England’s opener against Iran, which will take place on the opening day of the tournament – the November 21, although Walker again took a positive line.
“Over the past two years, we’ve adapted to playing every three days,” Walker said. “Going to the World Cup a week after the last Premier League game works in our favour. We still have the rhythm. We know each other very well so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Southgate said Fifa rules state that teams must be in Qatar five days before their first game, so it probably made sense to fly “reasonably early” because “we know there is not much you can do during the first two days’ after the league ends. “The players are still recovering,” he added. “So we could eliminate all of that…otherwise you lose two days of training, potentially, [at the other end]. We’ll pretty much check for injuries and fitness – that’ll be key. It’s a problem? Well, it would have only been a different day or two if we had started later. We know we have to be very well organized on this. This could mean that you might have a few players kicked out of the first game for this reason.
Southgate has confirmed that he will be pressuring the Premier League not to stage massive games on the weekend of November 12-13. “We had these conversations quietly in the background,” he said. “I’m sure if they can help, they’ll try to help.”
Berhalter, whose young and athletic American team is ranked 15th in the world, said he contacted Southgate after being given the manager’s job in December 2018. It was a time when the nation was in shock after the failure of Russia’s world qualification. Chopped off. Previously, they had made seven consecutive appearances at the tournament.
“I contacted Gareth because of the similarities,” Berhalter said. “I was taking over a young team and I had seen what he had done. There was always a bit of difficulty playing for England and they were at a difficult point [when Southgate took over]. He changed the culture. England will be the favorites for most games, but we understand that. My players are fearless. They don’t look back.