England may not have won the World Cup in Russia, but Eric Dier believes they did win respect.
Gareth Southgate’s side arrived at the tournament with modest expectations but outlasted the likes of Germany, Brazil, Argentina and Saturday’s Nations League opponents Spain to reach the semi-finals.
It was the Three Lions’ first appearance in the final four since 1990 and there was also a cathartic penalty shootout win over Colombia, with Dier converting the decisive spot-kick in Moscow.
The Tottenham midfielder claims their efforts laid down a new marker but must continue living up to their own standards – starting at Wembley.
“We’re a more respected team now, after the World Cup, but the hardest thing now is to maintain that respect,” the Tottenham midfielder talkSPORT and BBC Radio 5Live.
“There’s a a real stability at the moment. I think the manager wants that in the squad, stability and for everyone to feel like they’re part of something.
“That being the case we’re eager to build something. Even though our World Cup was so positive we still feel like we need to prove ourselves against the very best teams.
“Spain had a difficult World Cup but they’re still one of the best footballing nations and we want to compete against the best and beat the best.”
Dier has a reputation for being one of the squad’s more clear-minded thinkers, rated by Southgate as tactically astute and with a continental grounding from his formative years in Portugal.
It is, then, something of a surprise to find out he is still coming to terms with the impact of England’s campaign.
“I don’t even know if it has sunk in yet to be honest,” he said.
“Football moves so fast, it wasn’t long after the Premier League had started again and now we’re four games in and back on international duty.
“It’s kind of crazy. Being with England again and with the atmosphere there will be at the next two games, the first time playing in England since the World Cup.
“I’m sure leading up to those games we’ll really feel the effect it had. During the World Cup it was difficult for us to understand what things were like back home, hopefully we can feel a bit of that on Saturday and on Tuesday (against Switzerland) as well.”
Germany head coach Joachim Low has admitted France will be favourites when the two giants of European football meet in Munich on Thursday for the first game of UEFA’s new Nations League tournament.
The sides had widely contrasting experiences at the World Cup this summer, with Low’s 2014 champions meekly retreating after the group stage, while Didier Deschamps’ men marched all the way to glory in Moscow.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Low said: “The world champions are here tomorrow, we are not favourites, we lost the World Cup in the first round.
“Of course, we’ll do everything we can to beat France but it’s a process, the European Championship in 2020 is the key and that’s where we are aiming.”
Given the huge success he has enjoyed since taking over from Jurgen Klinsmann in 2006, Low has not faced demands for his head but many German fans have suggested the 58-year-old should axe this summer’s failures.
Those calls, however, have largely been resisted, with his squad for France and next week’s friendly with Peru containing only five players not in Russia.
“We have analysed what happened and you need a mix of experienced players – guys like (Mats) Hummels, (Jerome) Boateng, (Toni) Kroos and (Thomas) Muller,” he said.
“Maybe they didn’t perform as they would have liked but they’ve showed over a long period how good they are. Don’t forget, we won 10 qualification games.
“Of course, we need to get the ball rolling again but we don’t need to turn over every stone and start everything again.”
Low also rejected suggestions Germany should scrap its possession-based game and copy France’s counter-attacking style.
“We’ve been really successful for the last eight years, it would be nonsense to change our style completely,” he said.
“At the World Cup, the risk level was too high, we played too offensively. We have looked at all the data from 2010, 2012, 2014 and so on and we had a better balance then in terms of possession.”
Luke Shaw has returned to the England fold after his recent performances with Manchester United.
The left-back suffered a broken leg back in 2015 and it’s been a long road back from injury.
He discusses the match against Spain to come and more in the video below.