Hard work brings hope as England bid to keep dream alive

Yolanda Curtis
July 8, 2018

England trained in Repino on Friday morning before flying to Samara in preparation for their quarter-final meeting with Sweden.

That leaves perhaps the most wide-open World Cup of modern times heading towards the final week, and England manager Southgate has called on his team to take advantage.

That was somewhat overshadowed by Colombia equalising from the resulting corner but Pickford got his moment in the limelight with a shootout save as England triumphed on penalties. "The players know this and it is just an extra boost for us in terms of motivation".

No less than three England players were named in an XI devised of those who had surprised La Gazzetta dello Sport in this tournament, Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire and Kieran Trippier those who made the cut.

Travelling England fans' expectations skyrocketed after the Three Lions blasted their way into a first World Cup semi-final in 28 years.

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They are indeed and Southgate, who so often appears more of a supportive teacher than an authoritarian manager, deserves the plaudits he is receiving for nurturing that growth.

Yet, for a country with a rich tradition of goalkeeping greats, there were huge doubts over who Gareth Southgate would select between the sticks in Russian Federation.

Joe Hart started for Southgate in qualifying, but paid for his poor form in a season on loan at West Ham to miss out on the squad completely.

"I go back to the fact that it isn't about me, it's about the whole group".

"We don't have renowned, world-class players yet but we've got lots of good young players who are showing on the young stage that they can be courageous on the ball, try and play the right way, have shown some mental resilience".

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He said: "It's going to be hard". Even at 0-0 and 1-0 you could not see them scoring.

This afternoon a good number of England players "showed up" playing at their best, namely goalkeeper who was voted by many observers as a possible "man of the match" candidate. But the giant Chelsea stopper later clarified that he too is a big fan of Pickford.

"I never mocked his height, he is a great goalkeeper".

"I think England are definitely a good side", admitted AC Milan fan Michelangelo".

"They can give hope to them and, like I said the other day, we're not a team where we just turn up and we're waltzing around strolling around and we've got an entitlement". The lines and goal height are the same.

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