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Southgate Feels the Heat as England Preps for Quarter-Final Clash

As England prepares for their Euro 2024 quarter-final showdown against Switzerland tonight, all eyes are on Gareth Southgate and his underperforming squad. The pressure is mounting on Southgate, who will manage England for the 100th time amid calls for a tactical overhaul.

Despite navigating through to the last eight, the Three Lions have stumbled through their campaign so far. With only one victory out of four matches achieved within the standard 90 minutes, the squad, which boasts numerous high-performing club stars, has yet to deliver consistent results on the international stage. However, a potential historic moment still looms for Southgate’s men in Germany.

Phil Foden, celebrated as the Premier League Player of the Year for his pivotal role in Manchester City’s title win this season, expressed his concerns this week. Foden has found himself out of position, moved to the left-wing to make room for a Real Madrid counterpart. This adjustment has reduced the offensive threat down England’s left flank, especially as Foden tends to drift inside. Furthermore, Southgate’s strategic decision not to include a naturally fit left-back, despite Luke Shaw’s efforts to overcome his injuries, has been called into question.

“I feel sorry for Gareth,” Foden admitted to reporters. “We [the players] have to be leaders. In games where we could have rallied together, we failed to find solutions on the pitch.”

England stands as the highest-ranked team remaining in the comparatively less challenging side of the draw. If they manage to oust Switzerland in Duesseldorf, they will face either Turkey or the Netherlands in the semi-finals.

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. However, the Swiss, having convincingly defeated reigning champions Italy 2-0 in the round of 16 and held Germany to a 1-1 draw during the group stages, present a significant challenge.

The upcoming match is pivotal for Southgate’s career, with many believing that failure to adapt his tactics could see him end his tenure at exactly 100 matches. The criticism will be especially harsh given the pool of talent at his disposal, which many argue has been underutilized. Southgate has already faced backlash, including being targeted by fans hurling beer cups after a tedious 0-0 draw against Slovenia in the group stages.

Adding to the tension, midfielder Jude Bellingham has been handed a suspended one-game ban following a controversial celebration against Slovakia in the prior round. Fortunately for England, Bellingham remains available for the quarter-final against Switzerland. UEFA, Europe’s football governing body, announced on Friday that Bellingham would be fined 30,000 euros ($32,477) and suspended “for a total of one UEFA competition match for which he would be otherwise eligible for violating the basic rules of decent conduct.”

As Bellingham’s fate hangs over the team, the England squad is acutely aware of the need to rise to the occasion. The stakes are high, and the eyes of football enthusiasts worldwide will be riveted on Southgate and his team as they endeavor to progress further into the tournament.

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