As reported by The Telegraph and Sky Sports, England will attempt to keep the ball rolling with their UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying campaign when they prepare to face Bulgaria. Logically speaking they should get the job done fairly easily, but it’s difficult to write things off quite so easily.
In terms of what to expect from the game, though, maintaining your expectations is the most important thing – as well noted by manager Gareth Southgate in the programme notes.
One step forward
“The seeding for Euro 2020 will be decided by your record in the qualifying campaign so every game is important,” he said.
“If you look at the other groups, there’s some teams with a 100 per cent record, but we really have to take it a step at a time. We’ve got two home matches this month which we want to take maximum points from and that will only be a consequence of what we do throughout the week and then delivering the performances.
“We believe that we’re now a group who are ready to push ourselves on. We’ve gone from a team that had certain expectations and needed encouragement, but we’re now firmly established in the top ten of the world rankings after our results over a two-year period and there’s still lots of room for us to grow as more young players are coming through.
“We now have qualification in mind and we’ve got to make sure that we’re taking care of that to ensure we’re in the Finals of what will be a very exciting tournament across Europe next summer.”
“I really enjoy going to watch all the different tactical set ups, as well as checking on the form of all our players. It does mean that there may be some players who are left out of the squad, purely because they’ve just not had the opportunity to play for their club yet.”
Building a legacy
“That means there will be others who come into the squad and have a chance to force their way in, so there may be one or two younger players who haven’t necessarily been with us before. That competition for places is great and we want to see it like that, making it difficult to pick a squad, before we even get to picking the team.”
Alas, above all that chaos and noise there is a very simple objective for England: win convincingly, and give themselves some breathing space at such an early point of the campaign. There is a long road ahead before football can even begin to think about coming home, but this qualification period is going to serve as the next step in attempting to achieve that goal.
Bulgaria are plucky but in reality, the Three Lions should be easing towards a fairly comprehensive result. If they can’t secure that then the questions will inevitably come, as Southgate continues to ponder over what could turn out to be a selection headache.
Then again, maybe we should all just be enjoying the ride.