Live match preview – England vs Germany 29.06.2021

Live match preview – England vs Germany 29.06.2021


England vs Germany. Two famous foes, two modern footballing histories inextricably linked.

From Gazza’s tears and penalty pain – Gareth Southgate knows all about succumbing on spot-kicks – to ghost goals, England’s meetings with Germany always deliver drama, often court controversy and, when it comes to knockout football, usually end in defeat.

England have lost four times to Germany in major tournaments since the 1966 World Cup final.

The Germans are, in fact, unbeaten in their last seven games at Wembley and have not lost a competitive game there since the triumphant July day that still looms large in England’s consciousness after decades of hurt.

England Germany graphic

But ahead of Tuesday’s last-16 tie at Euro 2020 – a game that will be the 33rd meeting between the old rivals – Southgate has told his England players to write their own history.

“This team have put down lots of historical performances in the last couple of years, made their own history, made their own stories and this is how they should view this game,” Southgate said.

“It’s an opportunity. We’ve only won one knockout match in a European Championship as a country, so they’ve got a great chance to go and be the first team since 1996 to do that.”



AP - England training




0:45

Gareth Southgate says players get remembered for delivering in big games, like England’s last-16 Euro 2020 game against Germany

The fixture’s formidable past should not weigh heavy on the class of Euro 2020; after all, 12 members of Southgate’s squad were not even born when Germany beat England in a penalty shootout in a Euro ’96 semi-final at Wembley 25 years ago.

But opportunity knocks. England boast the sort of attacking talent that means usual hope and hype feels more legitimate, even if Southgate has prized defensive solidity so far. Germany have been inconsistent and are in transition, as Joachim Low approaches the end of a 15-year reign.

“It’s a major national moment for this country,” said Sky Sports’ Gary Neville in his big-match preview. “The lads will not have another moment like this in their international careers. There isn’t a second chance. Go and take it.”

The England camp may have tempered talk of a grudge match but the stakes are high, the game a test of cautious tactics that have so far divided public opinion.

However England set up, Jamie Carragher is braced for a familiar, nerve-shredding feeling.

“There isn’t much between the two sides… I think it’s going to penalties!”

Questions for Southgate: Formation key to midfield puzzle

Southgate has plenty to ponder in terms of set-up and personnel as he seeks to clear a significant hurdle.

In a 4-2-3-1 formation, Southgate might be inclined to start Declan Rice alongside fit-again Jordan Henderson as No 6s and keep Jack Grealish in a roaming No 10 role, with licence to switch with the wide forwards.

The defensive midfield pairing would also work in a more pragmatic 3-4-2-1 system, which would match Germany, but eliminate an attacker and likely leave only one vacant wide spot up front, to join Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling.

Meanwhile, if Mason Mount is given the nod to start against Germany after his isolation under Covid protocols, then Southgate could revert to the 4-3-3 system – where Mount has typically started on the right of a three-man midfield.

Neville wants England to switch to a back three.

“It concerns me playing with a back four, thinking how we’re going to get out to their wing-backs,” he said. “I thought we really struggled against Scotland getting out to them. If they control the game at Wembley it becomes a lot more difficult game.”



England's Harry Maguire (left) and John Stones in discussion during the UEFA Euro 2020 Group D match at Wembley Stadium, London




0:52

Sam Allardyce feels switching from a back four to a back three could have advantages for England against Germany, provided Southgate’s players are ‘comfortable’ with that system

Which full-back pairing: Shaw or Trippier, Walker or James?

Kyle Walker and Luke Shaw have clocked the most minutes at full-back for England at the tournament but there has been widespread criticism regarding a perceived tactical instruction to limit forays into opposition territory.

Ben Chilwell is also self-isolating (PA)
Image:
Ben Chilwell could also be available to Southgate

Interestingly, in terms of creating chances and successful passes in the final third, Shaw and Reece James exceed every other player in the squad – bar Grealish for the latter.

But Walker’s unrivalled pace is a priceless commodity, while Southgate will also be looking at which left-back would best challenge Germany’s dangerous wing-back Joshua Kimmich on the night.

Stick with Grealish and Saka?

Jack Grealish defines a ‘talisman’ for Aston Villa, but he also possesses exceptional close control, which drew a league-high 110 fouls in the Premier League last term, some 22 more than any other player – a staggering statistic when you consider he missed a third of the season through injury.

GREALISH

If you look closer, in terms of creating chances per 90 minutes, Grealish belongs to a ruling class of two: the only player to register superior numbers last season was Kevin De Bruyne.

So, the national clamour for the Villa skipper to start for England has substance. Indeed, it took the 25-year old merely 12 minutes to notch his first assist after starting against the Czech Republic.

GRAPHIC
Image:
The pass maps reveal Jack Grealish’s give-and-go style in the attacking third and Bukayo Saka’s forward-thinking approach in deep and advanced positions

However, Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka stole the show against the Czechs, with his lung-bursting runs injecting much-needed forward impetus after England’s notable sluggishness moving upfield in the first two games.

Indeed, the graphic below highlights how both players have been Southgate’s most progressive players so far – in terms of dribbles and distance with the ball – along with Marcus Rashford, who has notched only 58 minutes to date.

Kane conundrum – and what’s happened with set-pieces?

Upon the completion of the group stage, Kane ranked 43rd in the tournament with five shots. Incredibly, only one of those has been on target. Collectively, England have mustered only five shots on target. The numbers are damning.

GRAPHIC

The chart below highlights only Sterling, Kane and Mount have produced any kind of firing output to note – but Kane’s expected goal figures and calibre suggest the Tottenham striker is due to break his duck.

England currently have the worst goal ratio in the competition with 0.67 goals per game. Conversely, Germany are a whisker off free-scoring leaders Denmark and Italy, with two per game.

The Three Lions are renowned for their prowess from set-pieces under Southgate, but that knack has failed to materialise this summer. England are now one of only four teams left in the competition yet to score from a set-play.

The flip side: Will the reserved approach pay dividends?

Yes, England have scored the fewest goals out of the remaining teams at Euro 2020 – but they have also shipped the fewest. In fact, Southgate’s side are the only team yet to concede at all.

This approach is epitomised by England’s deep defensive line, which averages on a par with France and Belgium, while Spain and Germany typically play eight metres or more higher up the pitch.

As the graphic below reveals, the switch to a 4-2-3-1 from a 4-3-3 against the Czechs produced only minor alterations in the final average positions. In fact, England have seemingly sunk progressively deeper with each game.

GRAPHIC

However, clean sheets win tournaments – penalties aside – and England are well on course in that department. Meanwhile, the numbers behind Kane’s goal drought and the growing emphasis to feed the Spurs striker suggests Southgate’s pragmatic approach could well pay dividends.

Tactical analysis: Germany’s strengths and weaknesses

Germany celebrate at Euro 2020
Image:
Germany survived a topsy-turvy final night in Group F to book an England showdown

England are favourites to beat Germany in the last 16 and end the hoodoo of having never managed a knockout victory over their greatest rivals in a major tournament since 1966.

England are ranked higher in the FIFA rankings (fourth vs 12th); they are in better form than Germany (eight wins and a draw compared with four wins, two draws and three defeats); and Southgate’s team will be backed by the vast majority of the 45,000 fans inside Wembley.

Germany have won one, drawn one and lost one in finishing second in Group F, and the tournament statistics would tell you they have been far from consistent.

Rob Dorsett analyses the strengths and weaknesses of Germany ahead of the clash at Wembley.



Thomas Muller, Germany




0:39

Germany’s most-capped player Lothar Matthaus says England will need to be wary of dangerous Thomas Muller, who is crucial to Germany’s success

Team news: What do we know already?

Phil Foden
Image:
Phil Foden could come back into the England fold against Germany

England: Southgate is considering a recall for Manchester City forward Phil Foden – and Sky Sports News understands it is a real possibility that Mount could make a striking return to the starting 11.

Foden was left out of the matchday squad for the final group game against Czech Republic as a precautionary measure due to his yellow card but he looks set to win the battle with Rashford and Jason Sancho to start alongside Kane and Sterling.



AP - England training




4:23

Jess Creighton has all the news from the England camp as they prepare for their huge last-16 game against Germany at Wembley

Ben Chilwell and Mount have been forced to train away from the rest of the camp ever since they came into contact with Chelsea team-mate Billy Gilmour, who tested positive for coronavirus after the Scotland game. But both players have been included in tactical team meetings via Zoom and it seems Southgate is seriously considering including Mount from the off.

The history… ’66, Gazza, penalties and ‘ghost goals’

World Cup final, June 30 1966, Wembley – England 4-2 West Germany (AET)

England secured their only major trophy and Geoff Hurst became the first player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final. Martin Peters, Helmut Haller, Hurst and Wolfgang Weber had scored and at 2-2 the game went into extra-time. In the
first period a shot from Hurst struck the crossbar and when referee Gottfried Dienst could not decide if the ball had crossed the line it was left to linesman Tofiq Bahramov who indicated it had. Hurst completed his hat-trick late on to
secure World Cup success for England on home soil.



preview image




0:35

Jamie Carragher uses the latest computer technology to examine whether Geoff Hurst’s famous World Cup final goal actually crossed the goal line

World Cup semi-final, July 4 1990, Turin, Italy – Germany 1-1 England (AET – Germany win 4-3 on penalties)

The game which helped define the career of England midfielder Paul Gascoigne, who started crying after receiving a booking that would have ruled him out of the final. But England did not reach the showpiece after suffering a shootout defeat to the eventual champions. Gary Lineker had levelled the game after Andreas Brehme’s opener. Lineker, Peter Beardsley and David Platt all converted from the spot in the shootout, with Brehme, Lothar Matthaus and Karl-Heinz Riedle replying for Germany. But when Stuart Pearce missed and Olaf Thon scored it was left to Chris Waddle, who skied his effort over the crossbar and consigned England to a painful defeat.

European Championship semi-final, June 26 1996, Wembley – England 1-1 Germany (AET – Germany win 6-5 on penalties)

More penalty agony for England. Alan Shearer’s opener was cancelled out by Stefan Kuntz, while Gascoigne went close to a golden-goal winner in extra-time. There was some redemption for Pearce and Gascoigne who both converted in the shootout, while Shearer, Platt and Teddy Sheringham were also on target. But when Southgate’s effort was saved by Andreas Kopke, Andreas Moller scored to send Germany through to the final.

2002 World Cup Qualifier, September 1 2001, Munich – England 5-1 Germany

One of the highlights of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s England reign and Michael Owen’s international career came in Munich but there were few signs of what was to come when Carsten Jancker gave Germany a sixth-minute lead. Owen drew England level before Steven Gerrard put them ahead on the stroke of half-time. Owen netted again shortly after the break and then completed his hat-trick before Emile Heskey got in on the act to complete the rout.

World Cup last 16, June 27 2010, Bloemfontein, South Africa – Germany 4-1 England

A match that will be remembered for its controversy as Fabio Capello’s England were soundly beaten. Germany surged into a two-goal lead inside 32 minutes through Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, before Matthew Upson’s header reduced the deficit. England finished the half strongly and Frank Lampard lobbed Manuel Neuer with the ball bouncing in off the bar. But the referee did not award the goal and Germany killed the game on the break, with Thomas Muller’s double sending them into the quarter-finals.

What the England manager is saying this time

England boss Gareth Southgate: “Something we have spoken about over the last four years is that this team doesn’t carry the baggage from previous eras, many of them weren’t even born when many of those things happened and it is an irrelevance for them.

“It’s a real opportunity to progress to a quarter-final, albeit against a team with pedigree and experience.”

The players’ verdicts: Bring it on!

England midfielder Declan Rice: “What is there to fear really? They’re great players but it’s a game of football. It’s going to be a real battle out there but one that we’re going to be up for and we’re really positive and ready for.”

England forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin: “We as a group are definitely not underestimating the challenge that we’ve got and the quality that they have. They always tend to play a certain way, they’re well-oiled.”

Germany forward Kai Havertz: “This is a special game for me. We’ll do everything we can to win. Of course, you have to be prepared and after training you sometimes take a penalty or two…”

Germany winger Robin Gosens: “I’ve never played at Wembley and I’m really in the mood for it. Of course that [the lack of German supporters at the stadium] is a shame but for us it’s additional motivation. It’s great when the whole stadium is against you. We will do everything we can to ensure that the English are as quiet as possible in their own stadium.”

The pundits’ preview: Carra, Neville, Redknapp, Smith

Sky Sports’ Gary Neville:

“It’s so special to play Germany at Wembley. It’s a major national moment for this country. The lads will not have another moment like this in their international careers. There isn’t a second chance. Go and take it.

“I’ve got faith in Gareth and his staff that he’ll have prepared them really well. They’ll be ready for it. We’ve kept clean sheets, this is the game of our lives, we’re at home and I’ve got a feeling we’re just going to nick it.”

Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher:

“Germany are better than some of the things I’ve read in the press in recent days would suggest and England are going to have to perform a lot better than they have done. They’ve been OK defensively but with the ball it hasn’t been great. This is a step up in class and England will have to improve on the group stage to win the game.

“I think it will go to penalties, there isn’t much to pick between these two teams and it’s a 50-50 game. After going to penalties and winning in their last two tournaments, hopefully that will help England believe they can do it again.”

Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp:

“No matter what happens now, let’s have a go. Let’s go out swinging punches rather than playing too safe. Let’s go and show what we are capable of and give the team the opportunity to go and prove that.

“I personally cannot see how we can’t play Grealish. Part of playing for England and for your country is whether you can handle giving the ball away. Can you want the ball at all times? Can you make something happen?

“I genuinely feel it’s a 50-50 game. With home advantage at Wembley, we should look at this as a brilliant opportunity. We have got much more to come. Germany have stumbled into the last 16 whereas we have been pretty calm about it so I see us winning this game.”

Sky Sports’ Alan Smith:

“If we can get past Germany, the draw looks a little kinder than it might have been. But facing Germany is a huge challenge for England. England had a very comfortable passage through the World Cup to the semi-finals where eventually they came unstuck against Croatia.

“If we can clear this hurdle against Germany, then it will give everyone a great deal of confidence. Obviously, Germany are not as strong as they have been at times, but even so, to beat them would be huge from a morale point of view.”

The view from Germany: ‘Fans expect to win!’

“I think the Germany fans will be expecting victory – that’s the German tradition, to do it when it matters the most! The German side likes it when they play against a team that wants to play football. Hungary built up a concrete wall. But everyone here thinks that England will want to play football – and that could give Germany a chance.”

What’s the feeling in the Germany camp? How will they set up at Wembley? And could Jamal Musiala start?

Speaking on the Sky Sports Football Euros podcast, Sky in Germany’s Uli Kohler gives us the lowdown on Joachim Low’s side ahead of Tuesday’s huge match.





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