England secured top spot in Group B with a 3-0 over Wales on Tuesday night – and now the pressure builds as they face France in the quarter finals.
Gareth Southgate’s men impressed in the opening game against Iran with a 6-2 victory, however, the Three Lions boss and his players faced scrutiny after the 0-0 draw with the USA as they lacked any sort of attacking threat in the game.
As England enter the knockout rounds, there is certainly pressure building on Southgate’s men as this is one of the most talented sides we have seen since the supposed “Golden Generation” and Southgate has faced criticism from fans and media suggesting that despite reaching a World Cup semi-final and Euro final, he perhaps should’ve done better and won at least one competition.
For most of this England squad this is their first World Cup, with over half of this current side not being present in Southgate’s 2018 side. Perhaps the lack of experience in major international tournaments could prove costly for England.
With Saturday’s game against France approaching, sports psychologist Shane Creado describes how the younger players such as Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden will cope with the pressure ahead of the big game: “There is a lot of pressure, but also the gift of youth is that urge to prove something, the reason they’re in the England squad and in the World Cup is because they do well under pressure and they’ve trained themselves to do well under pressure.”
Regarding outside pressure from media and fans, Shane said: “There’s also internal pressure because players from different clubs, competing clubs, there are young players playing with guys they looked up to growing up, and the older players also need to prove to the younger ones – but the gift of experience helps them in playing under pressure. Coaches and senior players need to rise up and take the younger players under their wing and lead by example both on and off the field”.