England fell short when they lost to Croatia in the World Cup semi-final – now Southgate believes the Three Lions are ready to take care of some unfinished business.
The England manager admitted to feeling a mixture of emotions after his side took the lead in Moscow in July only to suffer defeat in extra-time.
Now at least there is a chance to make amends by beating the same opposition – with a place in UEFA Nations League semi-finals up for grabs for the winner, while Spain will progress if the match ends in a draw.
“It’s dead simple really,” said Southgate. “We go to a semi-final and that’s all we will focus on and everything else… We just go for it.
“There’s no point in hedging our bets that we might do this, we might do that or we need a 0-0.
“We want to send our fans away with a performance that excites them and we have a chance to get through what has been a really strong group, so for me we just focus on going for the win.
“We didn’t get over the line in the summer and we want to try to prove that we have learned from that and have improved from the summer.
“We play a team which we hugely respect with real competitors and warriors.
“Croatia will feel they have another gear to go to after the 0-0 draw in Rijeka. They will relish the occasion and will relish having to come to Wembley and be up against it.
“That’s the way their mentality is. We have to make sure we are spot on in the way we play.”
Indeed, midfielder Jordan Henderson said: “Yes, it is win or bust but that is what we want – we always want to win, no matter who it is against.”
After ending a 22-year wait for England to get to semi-final by reaching the last four in July, Southgate now has a chance to secure a berth in another semi-final just four months later.
Certainly that is his entire focus despite the threat of being relegated out of the top tier in the very first running of the new tournament.
Luke Shaw and Joe Gomez both trained yesterday after missing out on the 3-0 win over the USA in Wayne Rooney’s final international.
Gomez is expected to start in place of the injured Harry Maguire in the only change to the team that faced Croatia in Rijeka in October.
Meanwhile, Jordan Henderson believes that England are now better equipped to overturn Croatia than they were at the World Cup and has urged his team to use the memories of their heartbreak in Russia in their win or bust match tomorrow.
Henderson, who watched from the sidelines as England warmed up with a 3-0 win over the USA at Wembley on Thursday, said: “We have reacted really well after the World Cup.
“It would have been easy to just think, ‘yeah we had a decent World Cup’ and go through the motions.
“But the first camp when we were back, we knew we had a lot to improve on to go further in tournaments, to get to finals, to win competitions.
“We knew we had a decent World Cup but we could have done better. That is what has spurred us on to keep going.”