England coach Gareth Southgate has stated that the first knockout round with Colombia is the Three Lions biggest game in ten years.
Southgate said he was ready to accept any criticism that would come with the loss to Belgium. however, after making eight changes, he said he had achieved his "primary goal" by resting his players.
"This was a game we wanted to win, but the KO is the biggest game for a decade for us, and we had to make sure that our key players were preserved," Southgate said.
"Sometimes they have to look at the larger picture and make decisions that could be criticized in some areas, but everyone understands – in the dressing room and in the group ̵
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He added, "We do not like losing and do not want to lose games, but the main goal of the evening if we had hung up on Harry for 10 minutes and somebody raked his ankle, that would have been ridiculous.The co-game is the most important.
"Of course we have a responsibility to the fans, and the support in the stadium was absolute tonight outstanding. The support and encouragement from home was brilliant. But if you are a leader and a manager, you have to make decisions that are right for your group to reach the main goal.
"Sometimes these decisions are criticized, I understand that, but only one person makes that decision with all the facts and a tournament: physical, medical, tactical in favor of the group."
"I am completely satisfied with the decision. Sometimes you have to make decisions for the big picture. "
Southgate said he had no fondness for who his team would go against in the last sixteen, even after Japan was surprised by finishing second in Group H and now beating Belgium while England faces Colombia 19659002]" Me I think it's a game we can win, but it will be a fantastic challenge for us, "he said." Some outstanding single players, but we feel like a team that is improving. I think we showed tonight that we can still reach levels. "
" We know where we are, how flawless we must be to play against the best teams. "