England has made massive strides in recent years and reaching the final of the European Championship for the first time in their history would represent an exciting opportunity for the young team coach Gareth Southgate said on Tuesday. England who plays Denmark at Wembley on Wednesday last played in Euros semi-finals in 1996 at the same venue where they were knocked out when Southgate missed a penalty in a shootout against Germany.
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Since Southgate took over as manager England has reached the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup and the Nations League and though the 50-year-old is not looking to avenge that miss he has urged his team to go one step further. It’s not about what it is for me it’s about what it is for the players all of the staff and the country Southgate told journalists.”
“We don’t have as decent a history of football as we sometimes want to trust and these players are constantly evolving and breaking down barriers. We have broken down barriers in this tournament and we have tomorrow. There is another opportunity to do so. We have never reached the final of a European Championship so we can be the first player who is interesting to everyone.”
Southgate said Denmark’s changing forms during the game would be a challenge but said he believed England had talented players who could adapt to different systems. Over the last three years, we’ve always been flexible with our strategy and we always have to try to choose the right approach for the opponent Southgate said.
“Denmark has changed during the game. They have fluidity and choice and we need to realize that during the game. I think the players are aware of that and we have players who make good decisions on the field. They have experience in developing different systems and they know how to fight that systems. We understand our playing patterns and that means there is consistency in the way we operate.”
England will pay tribute to Christian Eriksen ahead of the game after the Danish playmaker survived a cardiac arrest in last month’s group opener with Harry Kane saying his former supporter Turnham team-mates have always had a place in his heart. Chris and I are good friends. Kane says it would be sad not to see him
Adding he had been in touch with Eriksen in the days that followed. He’s been a big part of Denmark’s victory over the years and of course, it is a terrible thing that happened to him. The main thing is that he’s doing well and improving well.
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USMNT forward Ricardo Pepi’s breakout season
After half a season to adapt to the Bundesliga and with a new coach, and on the horizon, FIFA World Cup stars are seen lining up for the breakout campaign for Augsburg’s USMNT forward Ricardo Pepe. The 19-year-old made his name with his hometown club FC Dallas in 2021 by scoring 13 goals and two assists in 31 MLS matches.
That prompted Augsburg to pull off a major coup by winning the race for his signature in January this year handing him a four-and-a-half-year contract while 15th on the table at the time hopeful he could help fire them to safety. As a teenager on his own in a foreign country, however, Pepi needed time to adapt to the new language culture and playing style.
As such, the fact he was unable to register a goal or assist in 11 appearances and four starts should be viewed against that backdrop as a period of finding his feet placing the foundation for future success. Having had half a spell to adapt to life in the Bundesliga and with a new coach at the helm and the FIFA World Cup on the horizon the stars look to be aligning for Augsburg’s USMNT forward Ricardo Pepi to have a breakout movement.
The 19-year-old made a name for himself with hometown club FC Dallas plundering 13 goals and two contributions in 31 MLS appearances in 2021. That prompted Augsburg to pull off a major coup by winning the race for his signature in January this year handing him a four-and-a-half-year contract while 15th on the table at the time hoping he could help fire them to security.
As a teenager on his own in a foreign country, however, Pepi needed time to adapt to the new language culture and playing style. As such the fact he was unable to register a goal or assist in 11 appearances and four starts should be viewed against that backdrop a period of finding his feet laying the foundation for future achievement.
And there is each reason to believe that victory is just around the corner for Pepi. The new 2022/23 spell represents a fresh start for all players but especially so at Augsburg with a new head coach on the touchline.
Enrico Maaßen is the man in the hot seat now the 38-year-old taking over after Markus Weinzierl stepped down at the end of last season after securing the team’s survival with two games to spare. It may be Maaßen’s maiden place as a top-flight first-team head coach but Augsburg deliberately gave him a three-year agreement as a sign of the trust they have in him.
“We have been following Enrico’s development with actual attention in recent years said Stephen Reiter Augsburg’s director of sports. He is a young coach who is hungry for success and wants to improve. And they have shown that they can support him. We are sure that he will develop the team with an interesting football brand.”
That confidence appears well-placed as the tactician previously guided the Borussia Dortmund U23s to the Regionalliga West title in his first season in charge, before overseeing a ninth-place finish in the third division in 2021/22. Not only that but the fact Maaßen was schooled in Dortmund’s coaching cradle means he is aware of the benefits of giving brilliant teenagers like Pepi a chance.
At BVB he worked directly with the likes of Steffen Tigges who moved to Cologne over the summer Ansgar Knauff is now on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt having helped the Eagles win the UEFA Europa League and Lennard Maloney is now at Bundesliga 2 side Heidenheim. All of which bodes well for Pepi ahead of the Qatar Football World Cup in November.
Nothing sharpens a player’s focus like a singular determination to be included in a FIFA World Cup squad and the Texas native goes into the campaign doubly motivated. Pepi was not named up to Gregg Berhalter’s team for the team’s friendlies and CONCACAF Nations League fixtures in June.
When asked about PP earlier this year, Berhalter said he was asked to play a little differently for Augsburg. When he is on the field. he is creating the possibility of running behind the backline, which is no more than service. And we hope to get some more service in the penalty box and give them a little help when they play. So [his club’s lack of goals] is my concern but I’ve talked about it at length.
“He’s a goalscorer and that comes certainly to him. And that’s something we need him to refocus on clear his mind and focus on doing the small things getting in good positions because if he gets in good positions, we’re comfortable he’s going to score.”
With fellow forwards Andi Zeqiri and Alfred Finnbogason leaving Augsburg this summer, the way is now clear for Pepi to make the position something that will undoubtedly catch Berhalter’s eye. And Coach Union will pay special attention to the Bundesliga after the arrival of Jordan ‘Pefuk’ Sebachieu in Berlin. The powerful forward is also trying to consolidate his place on the roster of the American Football World Cup.
An interesting confrontation is taking place with Pepi as the two front runners of USMNT are bidding to compete with each other. Peppy can be more intrigued by the way his compatriots flew from MLS clubs to Germany. This is the story of Borussia Mچnchengladbach’s defender Joe Scallie. The New Yorker arrived in Germany in January 2021 but spent the first six months with the reserves.
It was this time last year when taking benefit of damages to players in his position that Scally began to thrive in the first team and eventually start himself on the side. Pepi then is primed to follow a like pattern especially now with a full preseason behind him to understand his new coach’s tactics. After all, as the well-known sporting adage goes form is temporary class is permanent.
And Pepi has a class in abundance. Still, just 19 he’s too good not to come good ultimately and he finally got off the spot for Augsburg with his first goal in the team’s 5-0 pre-season win over TSV Schwaben Augsburg. Three goals and three assists in 10 senior international caps tell their own story while you don’t get voted as the 2021 MLS Young Player of the Year for nothing.
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