England host Brazil at Wembley on Tuesday night in what some are considering a glamour international friendly. Not Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate though.
With both nations having already booked their places at the World Cup in Russia next summer, this ultimately should be seen as a serious test to try out tactics and different personnel to get the best idea possible of what will work in eight months time.
Naturally though, given the nature of it being a friendly and with a return to club football ahead at the weekend, it’s only natural that it may lack the same intensity as a competitive encounter would have.
One thing that Southgate evidently won’t settle for though is his players being overawed by the occasion and being too busy being distracted by a star-studded Brazil side as he has called up a number of young stars.
Recalling a scenario during his Middlesbrough days when former teammate David Wheater clamoured to get Thierry Henry’s shirt, Southgate revealed that he wasn’t impressed with the youngster while he also jokingly had a pop at himself.
“I said, ‘Right, okay, where do you think that leaves you when you play him again next time? Because you were waiting to get his shirt, it’s given him a sense of, ‘Oh, okay, you’re just a young one’. You are either going toe-to-toe with these guys or we are just here for the tour’,” he is quoted as saying by The Express.
“I’ve got a wardrobe full of shirts at home and I think they’re all full-backs because it wasn’t high on my list of priorities to go and swap.
“By the way, there are a load of full-backs saying, ‘I’ve got f***ing Gareth Southgate’s shirt’, so I accept that works both ways!”
Some may argue that Southgate is being a little too nit-picky, but there is a strong argument to back up what he’s getting across.
While teams must always show respect to each other, showing too much is a problem, and England will surely want to use this as an opportunity to make a statement that they’re serious contenders next summer, while the younger group will be battling to get a spot in his final squad not coming along for the experience of playing against Brazil.