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Gareth Southgate hails the ‘great sporting rivalry’ between Wales, England

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Gareth Southgate has taught his players many things during six years as England manager and last night he handed down a lesson in both history and geography about the ‘Battle of Britain’ against Wales.

The Three Lions face Robert Page’s side in the final round of Group B games in Qatar with British bragging rights at stake at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.

Wales must beat England if their first World Cup in 64 years is to continue into the knockout stage, after drawing with the USA and losing to Iran.

Any ‘Battle of Britain’ gets the juices flowing for both sets of fans of the sides involved, although England boss Southgate had to step in to explain the magnitude of the encounter to an overseas journalist on the eve of the game.

Asked to explain why the showdown was so big, to laughter, Southgate gestured with his hands to indicate: ‘They are here and we are here.

‘It is like any two countries whose borders are next to each other. There is a competitive rivalry.

‘For me it is a great sporting rivalry, that feeling might not be mutual but I live in Yorkshire and they feel the same about the rest of England.’

Jordan Henderson claims England want to do their talking on the pitch against players they know so well from the Premier League and Championship.

Torquay-born Bournemouth and Wales striker Kieffer Moore said he ‘couldn’t wait’ to knock England out before the finals.

‘We don’t need extra motivation,’ said Liverpool midfielder Henderson, who is set to start in Al Rayyan tonight, possibly in place of Jude Bellingham. ‘We will do our talking on the pitch, perform well and focus on what we’ve got to do.’

Southgate cautioned against wholesale changes after the USA draw with England not yet definitely through.

He is expected to tweak his team tonight but it will not be a repeat of the eight changes he made in the final group game against Belgium four years ago.

He added: ‘It is not about giving caps out. Players will be disappointed if they’re not playing and if we have other camps throughout the year we try to give minutes when we can. In a World Cup, you can’t be thinking that way.’


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