England are yet to get started but Germany are nothing to be scared of

England haven’t set the Euros alight but chaotic, desperate Germany are NOTHING to be scared of… after a hit and miss start for Joachim Low’s men, this is a rare chance for the Three Lions to get one over their old rivals

  • England have nothing to be scared of ahead of facing a desperate Germany side
  • Germany endured a chaotic group stage and only just qualified for the last-16
  • It is hard to escape the feeling that England will rarely have a better chance
  • A game against this Germany team certainly should not scare the Three Lions
  • Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here

Twenty five years ago as England’s players sought to kill time ahead of their Euro 96 semi-final with Germany, Gareth Southgate was dragged to a Sex Pistols gig in central London by Stuart Pearce.

This week at England’s Covid secure training compound at St George’s Park, the musical entertainment was more sedate. As Southgate’s players ate some BBQ food on Wednesday night, the rather genteel singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran was the special guest.

Footballer’s musical tastes have changed a lot in a quarter of a century and so indeed have their freedoms. What has not changed much is the feeling of a meeting between England and Germany.

Jack Grealish (right) and Phil Foden (left) cut composed figures during England training

Jordan Henderson described it on Thursday as a ‘special game’ but it will only really be so if England were to win this time. With that in mind, it is hard to escape the feeling that they will rarely have a better chance.

England have not lit a fire under Euro 2020. They will need to produce some more fluent football at some stage if they are to win this tournament. However, their performances have been free of the unpredictability, uncertainty and occasional chaos that have characterised Germany’s efforts so far.

Chasing the game late on against Hungary on Wednesday in Munich, Germany had six forwards on the field. Two of them — Leroy Sane and Timo Werner — were playing as full backs. Coach Joachim Low had become desperate.

Anything can happen in the closing stages of a game that is not going your way. Any team can have a bad night. But for the Germans there has been too much of that in recent times. In November last year, Low’s team lost 6-0 to Spain. In April, they lost 2-1 to North Macedonia. At home.

England and Gareth Southgate experienced heartbreak against the Germans at Euro 96

Germany endured a chaotic group stage and only just qualified for the last-16 of the Euros

Their 1-0 opening defeat to France in this tournament was to be expected but the 4-2 win over Portugal that followed provided numerous clues about the true personality of this German side.

Impressive as their surging wing-backs Robin Gosens and Joshua Kimmich were when Germany moved forwards, there was an uncertainty at the other end typified by the lumbering Mats Hummel. 

The Borussia Dortmund defender, recalled from the wilderness for this tournament, has never been fast but now looks as though he is dragging an invisible bag of sand behind him. The quicker of the England forwards — players like Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka — will have taken note.

‘They have world-class quality in every position,’ was another Henderson soundbite from yesterday but for the first time in many years that is an opinion open to question.

Germany were bad in Russia three years ago as they failed to progress beyond the group stages of the World Cup and some who watch Low’s team regularly say they have not improved an awful lot since then.

Germany were bad in Russia three years ago as they failed to progress past the group stages

So England should go in hope to Wembley next Tuesday. For a while it seemed as though there may be a benefit to finishing second in their group. Some theory that turned out to be. Had Southgate’s team not beaten the Czech Republic they would be heading to Copenhagen to play Spain and, if successful, on to St Petersburg for a likely last-eight clash with France.

As it stands, England’s run to the semi-final (rather presumptuous, granted) may require victories over Germany at home and Sweden in Rome. What is beyond dispute is that England find themselves on the right side of the draw just as they did in Russia 2018. A game against Germany certainly should not scare them and Henderson made the right noises, even it was all terribly diplomatic.

‘Overcoming the penalty shoot-out in the World Cup last time was a big thing mentally for everyone,’ said the Liverpool captain. ‘I think we’ve shown over recent years that there’s a lot of that in our game now, how we manage games, how we see games out, how we always keep going right until the very end.

‘So I do feel we’ve improved with that and that’s going to be a big thing on Tuesday. We still give Germany a lot of respect. They are still a top team with world-class players and it will be a tough game for us. All the lads will be really excited about a really big game to see where we are as a team and where we can get to.

It is hard to escape the feeling that England will rarely have a better chance to beat Germany

‘We’ve been good defensively and very solid. We would like to have scored a few more goals but we have been winning games, keeping clean sheets and we topped the group. So there is still a lot of positivity.’

It may be a little early to say that boring, pragmatic Germany have been replaced by boring, pragmatic England. At some stage of this tournament, England must grow. But strangely that may not have to come next Tuesday. More of the same may be enough.

In Germany on Thursday the mood was cautious. Daily tabloid Bild — rarely found wanting on days like this — declared Wembley ‘our favourite stadium’ and it is the case that the Germans have not lost there since 1975. But turn another page and there was something a little more representative.

‘We are through,’ said the headline. ‘But nobody knows why…’ 

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