England national team head coach Gareth Southgate insists he’s relishing the prospect of competing in the inaugural UEFA Nations League semi-finals.
A stunning comeback victory against Croatia at Wembley towards the end of last year saw the Three Lions book their place in the final four, where they have been drawn against Netherlands.
European champions, Portugal will play Switzerland in the other semi-final, with England seeking to win their first major trophy since winning 1966 World Cup.
The Nations League was initially criticised by club managers but, according to Southgate, the tournament has been a massive lift to international football.
“I think it’s a bit early to judge on a broader scale but it’s been a huge success in terms of the quality of the matches, the excitement of the matches,” Southgate told UEFA, as quoted by FourFourTwo.
“[Without the Nations League] we would have been into a period of early qualification for the European Championship and probably more friendlies within that spell. And I think, on the back of a World Cup, that would have been very difficult for a lot of teams in terms of the motivation and the desire.”
“So I can only speak from experiences, but the players were excited by the games, the supporters were excited by the games, the level of the opposition meant there was high motivation and then [came] the drama of the group. There was so much jeopardy within the group that we were anywhere from place three, two, one throughout the game with Croatia. And that again added to the excitement of the occasion.”