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Too late for Earth

LONDON: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has backed England to win Euro 2024 if they follow his club’s route to continental glory. Guardiola finally guided City to their first Champions League crown last season after a number of near misses earlier in his reign. The Spaniard feels Gareth Southgate can do the same with England following their own painful failures on the brink of silverware.

England were beaten in the European Championship final by Italy on penalties at Wembley in 2021, lost the World Cup semi-final against Croatia in 2018 and were beaten by France in the 2022 World Cup quarter-finals. “They are really good. It’s not just the talent of the strikers, it’s the whole package, the whole group and Gareth knows perfectly what he has to do,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.

“So I have the feeling, everyone has the feeling, that the England national team, (from) the last events - the World Cup and European Championship - they make steps, they are on the verge, they are really close. They lost a final, got to a semi-final. When you arrive at these stages every two years, it’s going to happen. It’s quite similar to us, we were close, and in the end we lifted it.” Guardiola believes the English passion for football, which has often weighed heavily on their players at tournaments, will prove a more uplifting factor this time.

“I see the reaction when they play European Cups or World Cups, people go crazy on the streets. They go crazy for the national team,” Guardiola said. “That proves how proud they are and, at the end of the day, as a football player, that is the best, your country is proud of what you are doing for your country, and the way you are playing, reaching the last stages. “Just believe it. If they believe it, they can do it. Believe it, believe it, they can do it.” City forward Phil Foden could have a key role to play for England after an outstanding season at club level.

The 23-year-old’s performances were recognized as he was named the Football Writers’ Association men’s Player of the Year on Friday. Guardiola believes Foden, who has progressed through the club’s youth ranks to become one of their most important players, could go on to become one of City’s greatest ever. “This club has a long, long history. You can’t forget what happened with the players who played at Maine Road, like everyone knows. I think the club has been built with many, many top-quality players,” he said. “But I have the feeling if he continues his career until the end here, and continues that level, he can be one of the best, that’s for sure.” — AFP

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