Old Rivalries renewed as England face Germany in Last 16. Euro 2020 is being played in 2021 with Free Live Streaming on BBC iPlayer and ITV Sport. Need an England Euro 2020 Football VPN?
For most of Wednesday night, as Group F played their last games, it looked like England might have lucked into a potentially easy path to the final. Hungary, followed by Sweden or Ukraine, followed by one of the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Denmark or Wales. England would be strong favourites if pitted against six of those teams, and would be narrow favourites against the Dutch, especially as that game would be played at Wembley. Will England Euro 2020 end in glory?
🏴 England vs Germany 🇩🇪
📺 Free Live Euro 2020 Streaming on BBC One + Catchup on BBC iPlayer
📅 29 June 2021
⏰ 1700 BST
That path disappeared when Leon Goretzka smashed the ball past Peter Gulacsi to send Hungary home and push Germany into a round of 16 match-up with their fiercest rivals. This will be the 33rd official meeting between the two countries, with both teams having won 13 games with six draws. It sounds like it’s been very even, until you look at the history of games between them at major tournaments.
Obviously the sides met in the 1966 World Cup Final and England won 4-2 behind a Geoff Hurst hat-trick. Four years later, Germany gained revenge by beating England 3-2 in the quarter-finals of the 1970 World Cup. In 1982, they met in the second group stage and drew 0-0 though Germany would win the group and go on to lose to Italy in the Final. The next meeting came in 1990, when Sir Bobby Robson led his team-mate to the World Cup semi-final where England suffered penalty shoot-out heartache at the hands of the Germans, who defeated Argentina in the Final.
Six years later, Football was coming home. Euro 96 was a fantastic tournament, and England played some fantastic football. It seemed like things were lining up in their favour and it became clear that whoever won the semi-final contest against Germany would go into the final against the upstart Czech Republic as strong favourites. Germany were missing first choice strikers Fredi Bobic and Jurgen Klinsmann, who’d been ruled out through injury, and didn’t have an established goalscorer available to them on the night. It was the best chance England were ever going to have to end 30 years of hurt. England came within inches of victory but Paul Gascoigne couldn’t quite stretch his leg enough to reach Alan Shearer’s shot cum cross. England would again go out on penalties, with current manager Gareth Southgate missing the crucial spot-kick.
England gained some revenge by beating Germany 1-0 at Euro 2000 in the group stage but since both sides were eliminated at that stage of the competition, they likely didn’t celebrate it too much. In the last meeting between the two, at the 2010 World Cup, they faced off in the quarter-finals and Germany spanked England 4-1, but the result was not without controversy. With Germany 2-1 up and England in the ascendency, Frank Lampard lobbed Manuel Neuer and his shot hit the crossbar before bouncing down at least two foot behind the line. The spin on the ball caused it to bounce up again and hit the bar a second time before dropping into Neuer’s grateful arms.
They have played four times since then, all in friendlies. Germany have won two, England have won one and the other was the last game, played in 2017, which ended in a 0-0 draw. Germany’s fifty year domination in the knock-out stages of major competitions will weight heavy on the mind of an England team that has not played particularly well through three games.
The 1-0 win over Croatia was largely a case of the team who was the least bad on the night winning out. Scotland outplayed England and were very unlucky not to get a win and though the first half against the Czech’s was promising, the second was abysmal. Perhaps the pressure of playing at home isn’t helping but the biggest issue has been the dreadful form of Harry Kane.
Kane has a history of not performing well at international tournaments. He was a dud in 2016, poor at the 2018 despite his Golden Boot attained with goals against Tunisia and Panama. Penalties and tap-ins might win you a shiny trophy but they don’t win football matches and against Colombia, Belgium and Croatia, Kane failed to turn up. He’s been terrible though three games, and was even hauled off early against the Scots.
Kane hasn’t been the only poor performer, Declan Rice hasn’t impressed and neither has Phil Foden. Raheem Sterling has been arguably their best player while the much-maligned duo of Jordan Pickford and Tyrone Mings have massively over performed their typical form and helped England keep three clean sheets. The Rice situation in midfield is compounded by the injury and lack of form that hamper Jordan Henderson. Henderson played his first competitive game in four months when he came on against the Czechs and we’ll just say that he was poor and made those around him distinctly worse, to be kind to him.
Bakayo Saka looked like a potential match-winner in his appearance against the Czechs, far outperforming Jack Grealish for whom the mainstream media had been crying out. Saka made a strong case to start against the Germans over Foden, but Southgate is likely to revert back to those he has hung his hat on before.
There’s been plenty of speculation about what team England will play. What individual players, what system, what shape. The consensus seems to be a back 5 to “keep it tight, it’s Germany after all” but this is far from a vintage German team. Manuel Neuer remains the first choice keeper 11 years after getting lucky with Lampard’s lob but isn’t the goalkeeper he once was. Mats Hummels is well past his best but is important from an organisation and leadership point of view at the back, while neither Mathias Ginter nor Antonio Rudiger are what one would call top class.
Joshua Kimmich is a world class operator no matter where he plays and with him at right wingback and the excellent Robin Gosens at left wingback, it’s clear where most of Germany’s threat will come from. The central midfield pairing of Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan has not worked in this tournament, both are brilliant as individuals but together they lack dynamism and mobility. Leon Goretzka will be bang on the door, demanding a starting spot and may well get it over Gundogan.
Upfront is where Germany swing between the brilliance of their performance against Portugal and the flatness of their showings against France and Hungary. Serge Gnabry suffered a stop-start injury plagued season and doesn’t look comfortable as a number 9, Kai Havertz flashes brilliance but is inconsistent and though Thomas Muller may still be the most intelligent player in the game, he’s not the player he was during his prime. The back-ups, Leroy Sane and Timo Werner, are both well out of form and neither has done anything so far to deserve a starting role.
England could go and attack them. They’re vulnerable at the back, hit and miss upfront and can be slow-footed in the middle of the pitch without Goretzka. A brave team selection from Southgate could see England capitalise on those issues and expose them. But that seems unlikely. More likely is 5-4-1 or 5-3-2 and hoping for some joy off a set-piece.
The easiest way to watch the England Euro 2020 football live from from anywhere in the world is on BBC Sport and ITV…
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