Toni Kroos has retired from international football after Germany's defeat to England at Euro 2020, declaring: "I want to concentrate fully on my goals with Real Madrid."
 

Gareth Southgate's refusal to bow to public pressure and pick an attacking England team has earned the respect of former manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Southgate has guided the Three Lions to the last eight at Euro 2020, reaching this stage with their first knockout tournament win over Germany since 1966.

But the manager's team selection has been the source of scrutiny.

Not since the 2018 World Cup semi-final against Croatia has Southgate named an unchanged side, a run of 34 consecutive matches seeing at least one alteration.

Despite this tinkering, the England boss has consistently named starting line-ups that have underwhelmed supporters.

Jack Grealish has started just seven of those 34 matches – and only one at the Euros – while Jadon Sancho, limited to six minutes so far in this campaign, is also not among the 12 players to have clocked 1,000 or more international minutes in this period (915).

The subsequent defensive solidity has paid off, however, for a team now versed in both a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-3.

England have kept six straight clean sheets, beginning a major tournament with four in a row for the first time since winning the World Cup in 1966.

Eriksson, England manager from 2000 to 2006, knows all about the difficulty of satisfying fans while selecting an effective XI.

He famously sought to find a way to fit Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard into the same side and has been impressed by Southgate's resolve.

"Now you have to respect that because that's not easy," Eriksson told Stats Perform. "I know it's not easy.

 

"It's not easy in a club, but when you have a national team like England, everybody has an opinion. And if you don't win, you have 60 million managers or coaches telling you what you should have done.

"But the problem always in football is that, as a manager, you have to decide what to do, how to do it before the match, not after. So, I respect Southgate very much.

"You know how it is: now he is up in the sky, flying, and that's fair, that's good. But it was a little bit of a defensive team he put it out to start with – and if that had gone wrong, he would have been very, very much criticised.

"He won, he had [it] right and the decision he took was right. That's important."

Ukraine are next up and, given they are considered more straightforward opponents than Germany, calls will grow again to bring in Grealish, Sancho or Phil Foden.

"I don't think Southgate needs any advice from anyone – and he will not listen to it," Eriksson said.

But he added: "I think it's going to be very important for England that they can open up, and if you ask me, yeah, I would put in one more attacking guy, maybe, who can do things one against one.

"I think that will be important for the Ukraine game.

"But anyhow, whatever formation Southgate uses, England will win that game. I can't see any other result than that they go through."

Joachim Low will now have the opportunity to "process a heavy heart" following Germany's Euro 2020 exit but his successor Hansi Flick does not have the luxury of time.

Germany were knocked out of the European Championship with a 2-0 defeat to England at Wembley in the last 16 on Tuesday.

It was a result that brought Low's reign, which saw him guide Die Mannschaft to World Cup glory in 2014, to an unceremonious end.

Flick will now take over after winning seven trophies in an 18-month spell at Bayern Munich, which included a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble in 2019-20.

And Low is happy to hand over responsibility to the national team to his former assistant, having led Germany at seven major tournaments in his 15 years in charge.

"You can imagine what the mood was like [after the game]," Low told his final media conference as coach. "I spoke to the team and many of those working behind the team, they've been in my life for a long time, the players and the support staff. And, of course I spoke to the team and we said goodbye this morning.

"I haven't planned what I'm doing next, I just have to digest what's happened. It helps to have time to process a heavy heart and we'll see what the next few weeks bring.

"After 15 years, of course, I'm happy to pass the baton on to another coach. There were some amazing experiences that I had, there were lots of qualifying matches and tournaments that were amazing and I think, with a bit of time, I will get a sense of perspective on it."

National team director Oliver Bierhoff, meanwhile, made it clear Flick will be under immediate pressure.

Germany return to action in World Cup qualifying in September with games against Liechtenstein, Armenia and Iceland.

They will be expected to prevail in each of those matches but have work to do after a shock defeat to North Macedonia back in March left them third in their qualifying group with six points from three games.

And Flick will be under no illusions that he needs to quickly turn that situation around and secure qualification for next year's World Cup in Qatar.

"As Germany it will always be our ambition and our inspiration to be at the forefront, we've got good players," Bierhoff said. "What we didn't manage to do this time was to have a certain continuity to get that into our game.

"Now Hansi Flick is going to do what he can, the aspiration will be to qualify easily and aspire to win [the World Cup].

"I think he's going to be able to work really well with the team, we're going to sit down in the days to come and go through the plan.

"We're going to be talking about what kind of football he wants to play, we want a team that has a clear identity. He doesn't have a lot of time."

Flick may use those favourable opening games as a chance to re-establish Germany's incisiveness.

Only three teams across Europe's top five leagues (Atalanta 437, Napoli 434 and Barcelona 417) created more chances from open play than Bayern's 415 in 2020-21.

By contrast, Germany's total of 25 from four games was below the average for Euro 2020 of 28.96. England have managed just 18 from open play in the tournament, but the Three Lions' ability to create chances and convert them when it mattered was ultimately the decisive factor in bringing an end to Low's reign.

Thomas Muller has expressed the pain he is suffering after missing a golden opportunity in Germany's 2-0 Euro 2020 defeat to England.

Muller fired wide with only Jordan Pickford to beat when Joachim Low's side were 1-0 down with nine minutes to go in the round of 16 tie at Wembley on Tuesday.

The Bayern Munich forward had his head in his hands after that costly miss with time running out for Germany to stay in the tournament.

Harry Kane doubled England's lead with a header five minutes later and Muller cut a deflated figure when he was substituted in stoppage time.

Muller failed to score in the tournament after being recalled from the international wilderness by Low, managing only one shot on target in four games and missing his only big chance.

The 31-year-old opened up on his miss in a social media post.

 

"There it was, that one moment that you will remember in the end, that brings you sleep at night. For whom you work, train and live as a footballer," he posted on Instagram.

"That moment when you have it in your own hands to bring your team back into a close knockout game and to send an entire football nation into ecstasy. To get this opportunity and then to leave it unused, it really hurts me. 

"It hurts for the entire DFB team. My team-mates and our coach, who all gave me the confidence to be there right then. 

"But above all, it hurts because of all the Germany fans out there who stood by us and supported us during this European Championship despite difficult omens. Thank you for your support."

After Monday saw a shock exit for world champions France and 14 goals across two games, Tuesday's last-16 ties at Euro 2020 had plenty to live up to.

But, while there was not quite as much goalmouth action this time around, there were plenty of intriguing talking points as two more sides booked their place in the quarter-finals.

First up, England claimed their first ever knockout-stage victory inside 90 minutes at a European Championship, vanquishing old rivals Germany at Wembley.

And then Ukraine needed the second-latest goal in the tournament's history to edge out Sweden in a tense battle for a last-eight berth.

Here, Stats Perform looks at the key Opta stats from another thrilling day of Euros action.

 

 

England 2-0 Germany: Three Lions break tournament hoodoo

England came into their last-16 tie knowing they would need to beat Germany in a competitive game at Wembley for the first time since the 1966 World Cup final to seal their place in the next round.

That this dismal three-match run against their rivals was finally ended owes much to Raheem Sterling, who bagged the opener to extend what has been a hugely successful tournament thus far.

The Manchester City forward has now scored 15 goals in his last 20 appearances in all competitions for England having gone 27 games without finding the net prior to this run.

His latest strike also meant he became only the second player to score each of the Three Lions' first three goals of an edition of a major tournament after Gary Lineker did so at the 1986 World Cup.

England are now 15 games unbeaten at Wembley in major tournaments and will hope to earn the chance to extend that run in the semi-finals and final this summer by getting past Ukraine in the quarters in Rome this weekend.

As for Germany, they saw the Joachim Low era end with a fifth winless game from their last six at the European Championships (D2 L3).

 

Ukraine 2-1 Sweden (aet): Shevchenko's men leave it late

Ukraine looked like they might cruise into the quarters when a dominant start was capped by Oleksandr Zinchenko becoming the fifth different City player to net at this year's Euros (a figure only matched by Atalanta).

But they perhaps did not account for Emil Forsberg grabbing his customary goal to become the first Sweden player to score in three consecutive major tournament appearances since Kennet Andersson at the 1994 World Cup.

With neither side able to add to those strikes in regulation, extra time was required for a fourth occasion in this year's last 16 – the most ever in a single knockout round at any European Championship.

However, the match would not reach penalties, with Artem Dovbyk scoring the second-latest goal in European Championship history (120 minutes and 37 seconds) to win it.

Only Turkey's Semih Senturk has managed to score later in a Euros match, doing so after 121 minutes and one second against Croatia in 2008.

As a result, Ukraine secured their place in the quarter-finals of a major tournament for only the second time (the last coming in the 2006 World Cup), while Sweden made it three knockout-stage defeats from three at the Euros (also against Germany in 1992 and the Netherlands in 2004).

Joachim Low highlighted Thomas Muller's missed chance during the closing stages as a pivotal moment in the 2-0 Euro 2020 defeat to England that brought down the curtain on his 15 years in charge of Germany.

Second-half goals from Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane booked a place in the quarter-finals for Gareth Southgate's side at a raucous Wembley.

But, after Sterling's third goal of the tournament, the Manchester City forward played a wretched pass towards his own half that released Muller.

The experienced Bayern Munich star bore down on Jordan Pickford's area and looked certain to score, only to fire wide.

"We didn't take advantage of the two great opportunities that we had with Muller and [Timo] Werner," Low said.

"It was obvious no team wanted to take too many risks, especially in their defensive work. It was expected that not many opportunities would be created.

"But you need to take advantage and be clinical if you want to succeed. The English side scored on their first opportunity and we didn't, so it was difficult.

"We would have turned the match around with the chance of Muller, but then they got their second and it was not possible to turn the match around.

"The team threw in everything but we were not clinical enough, not effective enough. The team needs to mature as a team to be more successful."

 

Low's announcement before the tournament means that such next steps will occur without him and Tuesday's reverse at Wembley saw a glorious reign limped to a forgettable conclusion.

After taking over from Jurgen Klinsmann in 2006, Low led Germany to the final of Euro 2008, the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 before World Cup glory in 2014.

A youthful Germany team lifted the 2017 Confederations Cup after another semi-final exit at Euro 2016 but they failed to get out of the group stage during their World Cup defence in Russia and Low was unable to regain momentum.

"At the moment I haven't taken any decision yet," he replied when asked about his next move.

"When I took my decision to stop after this tournament, I had different thoughts back then.

"We will see in the next days and weeks. After 15 years in this job, with all the responsibility that is involved, taking a break is necessary.

"There will be a time when you find new energy for something else. At the moment, I do not have any concrete plans." 

Gareth Southgate acknowledged his job as England manager would have been on the line had they not pulled off a 2-0 Euro 2020 last-16 win against Germany.

Reports over the past week have suggested the Football Association (FA) are keen to keep Southgate on beyond the 2022 World Cup, but he has not courted popularity with England's wider fanbase after conservative team selections throughout Euro 2020.

Those same supporters were in raptures at Wembley on Tuesday, when Raheem Sterling's third goal of the tournament and much-needed header for captain Harry Kane gave the Three Lions a stirring triumph over their old rivals.

Southgate reverted to a 3-4-3 setup to match Germany's formation, with defensive midfielders Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips stationed in front of the back three, while the likes of Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford remained unused on the bench.

Jack Grealish did emerge after 69 minutes to provide a creative spark, having a hand in both goals, with the Aston Villa man's omission from the XI another example of Southgate failing to be persuaded by popular opinion.

Speaking to BBC Sport afterwards, he acknowledged such single-mindedness comes with a price.

"You know that if you change the shape, you pick certain personnel instead of others and if it goes wrong you're dead," he said.

"We had to go about it in a way we believe. We wanted aggressive pressure all over the field. We felt that to match them up was the right way of doing that and speed in behind would cause them a problem.

"Bukayo [Saka] and Raheem, right from the start really created that jeopardy in their backline.

"We know that they were going to have moments of possession because they've got really good footballers and experienced players. But the whole team defended incredibly – the goalkeeper, right the way through.

"It was a fabulous performance, I can't give enough credit to the players."

Pre-tournament scrutiny over Sterling's worth to the England cause have been buried by weight of goals, but three laboured and scoreless group-stage outings prompted questions that Southgate was glad to see Kane answer.

"They both have to prove people wrong all the time," he added.

"Raheem has been immense for us over a three or four year period. We've got that faith and trust in him and his performances have been electric right from the start.

"For Harry, a really important moment I think. When you're a centre-forward, it doesn't matter what else you're doing in the game, you need those goals."

England’s last-16 win over Germany at Euro 2020 proved their doubters wrong as Gareth Southgate’s side seized the chance to create their own piece of history at Wembley, according to Declan Rice.

A cagey contest was finally cracked open in the 75th minute when Raheem Sterling scored his third goal of the tournament, making it 15 in his past 20 outings at international level.

Thomas Muller fluffed a glorious chance to equalise before Harry Kane doubled the lead, heading home Jack Grealish’s cross to seal a place in the next round.

England lost on penalties to Germany in the semi-finals of the 1996 edition at the historic venue – albeit it has been rebuilt since then – but Rice was delighted to play his part in a famous triumph, one that was delivered after the squad received criticism for their displays in the group stage.

"It's incredible. A lot of people looked at the end of the group stage and they had written us off," Rice told BBC Sport.

"Complaints about the performances, not scoring enough goals. You read a load of things. But, as players, you put that to the back of your minds and want to prove people wrong.

"I think today, in front of a full house, everyone had that fire in their belly to go out there and, for one, knock Germany out of the tournament and, two, progress to the next round.

"It's history. In the press conferences this week all the players have been asked about the previous games with Germany. Today we created our own bit of history, we've made the most of the opportunity on the pitch."

 

England will play the winners of the clash between Sweden and Ukraine next in Rome, with success on Italian soil then leading to a semi-final appearance back at Wembley.

For Rice, the bond within the squad has built belief that something special can be achieved, particularly with the final also taking place in London.

"We don't want to get too ahead of ourselves. Saturday, we travel to Rome for a massive game and we want to win that and progress to the semi-finals," the West Ham midfielder said.

"All I can say today, is the players, the fans, the occasion, how we were up for in the changing room... I've not been part of a team with a togetherness like this.

"We are all in it with each other, we really believe we have the quality and, with the tournament pretty much being at Wembley, we can keep progressing."

Sterling, who revealed he briefly feared his opening goal was set to be ruled out for an offside decision, made clear how pivotal Rice and midfield partner Kalvin Phillips had been to the victory, the latter regaining possession 11 times - the most by an England player in a European Championship fixture since Tony Adams (13) in 1996.

"We knew the intensity we can play at and not a lot of teams can deal with it," Sterling told BBC Sport. "The two players in midfield, Declan and Kalvin, they ate up the grass and were animals in there.

"We take it game by game, recover and focus for the next one."

England have now kept clean sheets in their opening four matches at a major tournament for just the second time, the other occasion coming when they went on to lift the World Cup in 1966.

Gareth Southgate was keen to dismiss any relevance whatsoever surrounding his moment of personal despair 25 years ago, the last time England and Germany met at Wembley in a major tournament.

But his team-sheet felt like a nod towards the kit he wore as a young, accomplished defender who erred in an-era defining moment of Euro 96 penalty shoot-out heartache.

The England XI he sent out on Tuesday was grey. Very grey. Potentially and hopefully granite like, but definitely dull.

There was no great surprise. A line-up of five defenders and two sitting midfielders had been widely floated before kick-off and the approach was of a type with England's group-stage efforts of two goals scored and none conceded in three matches.

The clarity of Southgate's game plans have been a strength of his reign and account for the goodwill towards him in the England squad. Players are rarely left scratching their heads by a manager who has their back.

But as Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Jude Bellingham and all their considerable creative gifts shuffled into position on the substitutes' bench, it was hard to escape the sense of Southgate missing a trick.

Wing-back to the future

Either side of a raucous 4-2 win over Portugal – one that persuaded an entirely sensible switch to England's wing-back system – Germany were fortunate to only lose 1-0 to France and scraped a chaotic 2-2 draw against Hungary to squeak through to the knockout rounds. They were unquestionably vulnerable.

Southgate could rightly contest that going gung-ho against elite opponents has rarely ended well during the nation's 55 years of hurt, but the start was ominous.

Slow possession from kick-off saw Raheem Sterling, one of three attack-minded players in the XI, come deep and pass to Harry Maguire. Hoof! Then another one from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

 

Defensive numbers would be a moot point if England just kept giving the ball away to technically accomplished midfielders such as Leon Goretzka, who an overrun Declan Rice hauled down for a desperate eighth-minute foul that saw him booked.

Arm-wrestling the rippling Goretzka would probably be an awful experience, but that was effectively how England engaged Germany during a first half they gradually and painstakingly shoved into their favour.

Sterling and Bukayo Saka buzzed effervescently, too often lacking support. Kalvin Phillips burnished his ever-growing reputation as he faced down Goretzka, Toni Kroos and the roving Kai Havertz, while Kyle Walker, John Stones and the excellent Maguire encouraged their team out of a defensive shell and up the field.

Pragmatism wins prizes

Southgate's template is one that necessitates half chances taken and key moments won. Jordan Pickford did his bit with a brilliant save in each half, but Harry Kane's heavy touch towards the end of the first half showed him grasping for form. Alan Shearer branded that lost opportunity "a sitter" in his role as pundit on BBC.

It is a method that won Portugal Euro 2016 and France the 2018 World Cup, with extreme pragmatism laying a foundation for attackers flecked with magic to do the rest. But Portugal and France are already out here and Kane looked a shadow of the himself, unfit to be Southgate's Ronaldo.

Drift was an inadequate description for an unremarkable second half, given everything from the football to the tension felt so heavy. Finally, Southgate turned to his bench for some of Grealish's sparkle 69 minutes in.

Sterling had started to turn towards blind alleys rather than open spaces and relished a willing accomplice as he drove in field. Kane recycled possession to Grealish, who found Shaw. There was familiar Euro 2020 punctuation to a crisp move. England 1-0, Sterling.

 

Once again the toast of his boyhood neighbourhood after his third goal of the competition, the Manchester City forward erred horribly with pass towards his own goal in the 81st minute. Thomas Muller was through, but the inevitable didn't happen.

Then a moment of salvation for Kane and his country, stooping to head home, with Grealish and Shaw again involved. Job done, demons slayed.

Perhaps we linger too much on results and let them paper over performances, but results are the strongest currency of all in tournament football. To put it in context, this was England's first win in a major knockout match over a country with a world title to their name since overcoming West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final.

Whether it's coming home or not, Southgate and his players have breached unchartered territory.

An expectation to take the game to Sweden or Ukraine in a Rome quarter-final will inevitably bring more cries against caution. But those are tomorrow's problems in Southgate's summer of Sterling.

England claimed their place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 as they beat rivals Germany 2-0 at Wembley Stadium.

Raheem Sterling grabbed his third goal of the tournament to put the Three Lions ahead from a well-worked move in the second half before Harry Kane opened his account with a late header.

Gareth Southgate's side will now face either Sweden or Ukraine in Rome as they look to match 2018's run to the World Cup semi-finals.

Germany seemed to take a partisan atmosphere at Wembley in their stride early on, making a strong start that was exemplified by Declan Rice receiving a booking for a cynical but entirely necessary challenge on a breaking Leon Goretzka.

However, the subsequent free-kick came to nothing, inviting England to improve on what they had offered up thus far and leading to something of an end-to-end half.

The hosts had two Harry Maguire headers and a Sterling strike from distance to show for their efforts, while Germany went close through Timo Werner and Robin Gosens.

But it was Kane who saw the best chance of the half, latching somewhat fortuitously onto a deflected clearance attempt but failing to get around Manuel Neuer before Mats Hummels intervened.

The half-time break seemed to benefit the Germans most, Joachim Low's side finding it far easier to prevent their opponents from playing out following the restart.

They were also creating chances, most notably in the form of a powerful Kai Havertz drive from the edge of the box that Jordan Pickford saved athletically.

But with neither side able to find the breakthrough by the 70-minute mark, both managers moved to change things with the introductions of Serge Gnabry and Jack Grealish.

And it was the latter who made the telling contribution, collecting the ball after a fine run from Sterling before teeing up Luke Shaw for a low cross that the Manchester City man side-footed home.

The goalscorer almost turned villain moments after his opener, inadvertently setting up Germany to release Thomas Muller in behind, but hit the turf in relief after the Bayern Munich man struck wide.

Grealish was on hand to make things safe soon after, swinging in a left-footed cross that Kane needed only to crouch to head home and send Wembley wild.

Thomas Muller is back in the Germany starting XI for the Euro 2020 last-16 clash against England at Wembley, with Bukayo Saka retaining his place for the hosts.

Muller only featured from the bench when Joachim Low's side scraped a 2-2 draw against Hungary to emerge as runners-up in Group F as he nursed a knee injury.

But the Bayern Munich forward has been passed fit to start alongside wing-back Robin Gosens and defender Antonio Rudiger, both of whom had been struggling with cold symptoms.

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is involved after suffering a cranial bruise, but only on the bench as Leon Goretzka partners Toni Kroos in central midfield.

Saka was a surprise starter in England's 1-0 win over the Czech Republic to top Group D and responded with a man-of-the-match display.

The Arsenal man forms a front three alongside captain Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling, who has scored England's only two goals at the tournament so far.

Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has reverted to a back three of Kyle Walker, John Stones and Harry Maguire, with defensive midfield duo Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips in front of them.

It means there will be an onus on recalled wing-back Kieran Trippier and Luke Shaw to provide thrust from the flanks.

Germany head coach Joachim Low is embracing the "captivating" history between his side and England ahead of their blockbuster Euro 2020 last-16 showdown at Wembley on Tuesday.

Low's Die Mannschaft have won the past four encounters against England in knockout matches at major tournaments, although the Three Lions beat West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final.

This will be the 13th meeting between England and Germany at Wembley. England won four of the first five such games (L1), including the 1966 World Cup final, but are winless in their previous seven against Germany at the national stadium (D2 L5).

Low was in charge when German defeated England 4-1 at the 2010 World Cup in the round of 16, while current England manager Gareth Southgate missed a penalty as the Three Lions lost 6-5 in a shoot-out at Wembley in the Euro 1996 semi-finals.

"I think all the matches between England and Germany you talk about for years after," Low said. "This is a fixture that captivates everyone. It's an all-or-nothing game for both teams.

"The excitement goes without saying I can feel the players are highly motivated and we have analysed the English side.

"We are looking forward to this great encounter and a great evening ahead."

Low has led Germany since 2006, winning the 2014 World Cup, and will finish up his tenure at the end of Euro 2020, yet he said he has barely thought about the England match being his last in charge.

"All in all I thought about it two seconds," Low said. "I don't think about it because I have so many other thoughts in my head.

"This is my passion. My whole focus is on the match tomorrow night and I hope we will succeed."

Low has a few selection headaches with injury concerns over Antonio Rudiger, Robin Gosens and Ilkay Gundogan, although he said the final decision will be made on the day of the match.

The Germany boss was also full of praise for England, including Premier League Golden Boot winner Harry Kane – who has had an underwhelming Euro 2020 campaign with no goals.

"Of course we have to be focused," Low said. "Look at Harry Kane and the level that he plays. He can score goals out of every situation.

"This is his skills, his qualities. He has all of them. He is both footed, he is very good in the air. He can protect the ball very well.

"But England also has [Raheem] Sterling, [Phil] Foden, Mason Mount maybe. They have a lot of strong offensive players, attacking players with [Jadon] Sancho as well and [Marcus] Rashford."

Germany have reached at least the semi-final in each of the last three editions of the European Championship. Indeed, since the tournament was expanded in 1996, they have reached at least the last four of the competition each time they have progressed to the knockout stages.

Die Mannschaft have conceded at least once in each of their previous eight matches at major tournaments (Euros and World Cup), since a 3-0 win against Slovakia at this stage of Euro 2016. Only once have had they had a longer run without a major tournament clean sheet, which was in their first nine World Cup matches between 1934 and 1954.

Gareth Southgate has urged England to grasp the opportunity to put the Three Lions' poor Euros knockout record behind them but does not feel the omens will have a negative impact on the team.

England have never won a Euros knockout match in 90 minutes, with four of those six games going to penalties – only one of those (v Spain, Euro 96) ended in a victory for the Three Lions.

It is a damning indictment of England's underachievement in the tournament throughout its history.

While Southgate believes his young team have a great chance to overcome such a poor record, he also feels the players should not feel any extra pressure because of it.

"It's an incredible record really," Southgate told reporters on Monday. "I think it's something we've talked a lot about as a team over last four years – this team has that opportunity [to buck the trend].

"In previous eras we've spoken about the past and baggage. There's no reason for these players to feel that way, as most weren't born when those games happened. It's an irrelevance for them.

"But it's a fantastic game to be involved in and great opportunity to progress to a quarter-final."

 

A key area for consideration before Tuesday's game is whether Ben Chilwell or Mason Mount will be involved.

Both have been isolating after being identified as close contacts of Scotland's Billy Gilmour, who tested positive for coronavirus, but they will be allowed to mix with their team-mates again from midnight on Monday.

Southgate accepts the situation certainly has not been ideal, but he thinks either player could cope if needed to start.

"They're having to travel separately to the team," Southgate added. "They have had individual training programmes this week. The only sessions they've been able to join in with is when there's not full team training. That's the basis on which we have got to make a decision.

"Clearly, it's really complicated because there's the physical periodisation that you would want for a game like this. Then there's the tactical training.

"The meetings we've had, they have to be in a separate room and dial in on Zoom. The whole experience for them, including travelling down tonight is very, very difficult.

"But they are young players who can get on with things pretty well. It's a decision I've got to take when we're looking at how they've been able to train and everything else. There's a lot wrapped up in that call."

Southgate will surely be hoping star striker Harry Kane can finally have an impact at Euro 2020, with the Tottenham forward struggling to make his mark in the group stage.

He has managed just five shots in total and only one of those was on target, with Kane on zero goals from an xG value of 1.4.

His 11 touches in the penalty area are one fewer than Che Adams of Scotland, who finished bottom of England's group – but Kane insists his performances are the least of his worries if the Three Lions continue in the tournament.

"I've always said as a striker, you go through spells, sometimes spells don't go your way," he said. "The most important thing for me is we are winning games. The first objective was to qualify, which we've done, the second is to reach the quarter-finals.

"Whether I'm scoring, the most important thing is winning. That's all I'm focusing on at the moment. However we get it done, that's our main objective and we'll do everything in our power to get through."

England will have to overcome a wretched record in European Championship knockout matches if they are to get past their old nemesis Germany in the round of 16 on Tuesday.

The Three Lions go into the match having never won a knockout game in 90 minutes at the Euros, with four of their previous six attempts ending level and two leading to defeats.

Four of those past instances went to penalty shootouts and England only progressed from one of them, against Spain in Euro 96.

That victory came at Wembley, so perhaps the locale of Tuesday's clash will at least provide England with an edge – after all, they are unbeaten in their 14 Euros and World Cup matches (excluding penalty shootouts) at the 'Home of Football'.

 

While former Germany international Stefan Effenberg suggested that all the pressure will be on England because of the home crowd, Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate senses an opportunity.

The rivalry may be weighted more towards England in terms of the significance attached to these fixtures, but Southgate was keen to impress on his players that history is within their grasp.

"It's a great opportunity for this team to make some history and give people memories of England-Germany fixtures for the future that are a little different to some of the ones they've been flooded with over the last few days, which mean absolutely nothing to them because they weren't born," Southgate said.

"The game is probably worthy of more than the second-round stage. We're playing against a very good side.

"They won't fear coming to Wembley. We'll have to play at our very best. We've got to be tactically, physically and psychologically well-prepared."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

England – Raheem Sterling

With Harry Kane faltering in the group stage, looking a shadow of the sharpshooter who is usually so reliable for Tottenham and England, the goalscoring burden has fallen on Sterling. Despite a disappointing second half to 2020-21, the Manchester City winger has scored both of the Three Lions' Euro 2020 goals, taking him to 14 in his past 19 appearances for his country after just two in his first 45 caps.

 

Germany – Kai Havertz

From an individual perspective, Havertz's first season at Chelsea was not especially impressive. Having been roundly criticised in England during 2020-21, he will surely be eager to catch the eye here, and given his start to the tournament, many would back him to do just that. He's already got two goals, though the fact his non-penalty xG of 2.7 is the highest of anyone in the tournament suggests he's been a threat beyond those two efforts. For example, the total xG of sequences he has been involved in (3.8) is bettered by only Pedri (4.6 - before Spain played Croatia) and Memphis Depay (4.4). Write him off at your peril.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Germany's Ilkay Gundogan has scored twice at Wembley, for Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League final and for Manchester City in the Premier League. He could become just the second player to score at the ground for a club side and the German national team after Per Mertesacker.

- This will be the 13th meeting between England and Germany at Wembley. England won four of the first five such games (L1), including the 1966 World Cup final, but are winless in their previous seven against the Germans at the national stadium (D2 L5).

- This will be England's 300th international match at Wembley, with this the 77th match they will have played at the new site since it reopened in 2007. The Three Lions have won 187 times at this venue (D73 L39).

- Germany have reached at least the semi-final in each of the last three editions of the European Championship. Indeed, since the tournament was expanded in 1996, the Germans have reached at least the last four of the competition each time they have progressed to the knockout stages.

- Germany have conceded at least once in each of their previous eight matches at major tournaments (Euros and World Cup), since a 3-0 win against Slovakia at this stage of Euro 2016. Only once have had they had a longer run without a major tournament clean sheet, which was in their first nine World Cup matches between 1934 and 1954.

England have not so far entertained the neutral at Euro 2020, but heavyweight clashes with Germany rarely disappoint.

The old rivals on Tuesday meet at a major tournament for the first time since the 2010 World Cup, where chaos reigned in another last-16 bout.

A stodgy England approach – not out of keeping with this year's group stage, a Rob Green error aside – gave way as the knockout phase began. The teams shared 35 shots – the only Three Lions tournament game to feature at least 17 for each side since 1998 – and England's 1.13 expected goals (xG) surpassed each of their prior three matches in South Africa.

Germany won 4-1.

 

Control is the name of the game now, though – at least for Gareth Southgate's England.

As Germany traded blows with the big boys in Group F, conceding first in each of their fixtures and extending their run without a clean sheet at a major tournament to eight matches, England kept their guard up.

The Three Lions have 15 clean sheets in 19 games, including three in three at the finals – as many as in 14 matches at the past three major tournaments combined and already more than their two at Euro 96.

At the same time, England netted just twice in Group D, becoming the lowest-scoring pool winners in Euros history.

These statistics do not suggest an exciting, attacking outlook, even if the squad list does. But criticism of Southgate will soon fade if the result goes his way at Wembley this week.

Express yourself

Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka – England's eight attacking options – registered a combined 147 goal involvements in the league in 2020-21.

It is easy to see why fans want these players to be let off the leash. Premier League Golden Boot winner Kane has had five shots, one on target and 11 touches in the opposition box in 246 minutes.

But England's rapid starts to matches have been too easily forgotten.

In each of their group games, the Three Lions hit the post inside 11 minutes. Raheem Sterling's lob against the Czech Republic was touched onto the post when it could have become England's earliest Euros goal at one minute and 47 seconds. That honour still belongs to Alan Shearer (2:14) – against Germany in 1996.

Southgate's side had at least 60 per cent of the possession in the opening quarter of an hour of all three matches. Nine of their 22 attempts came in this period.

The issue has been capitalising on this dominance, with Sterling's header against the Czech Republic the only time England have netted before the 15-minute mark.

Southgate has been level-headed in his assessment of performances so far but acknowledged his team have "run out of steam a little bit in a couple of games".

Unable to either race into a big early lead or maintain this initial frantic pace, England have settled for slowing the play instead, ensuring to avoid the sort of setbacks that saw Shearer's goal cancelled out by Stefan Kuntz on 15 minutes in 1996.

They have been successful in this regard of late, their past four wins – over the course of five matches – coming by 1-0 scorelines. Only in 1990 have England previously had five 1-0 wins in a calendar year.

Don't give it away

In the second half against the Czech Republic, with protecting a narrow lead their only apparent aim, England did not attempt a single shot.

Yet this performance stood completely at odds with the previous most recent example of the Three Lions failing to muster an effort after half-time. Against Spain in the Nations League in 2018, Southgate saw a three-goal lead at the interval almost wiped out.

 

 

England look to be able to manage games now. Even after the goalless draw with Scotland, Southgate spoke of the need to "manage the tournament as well as the game".

They have been versatile in that sense.

In the win over Croatia, England ceded 60 per cent of the possession after the restart and 81.6 per cent in the final 15 minutes, yet their opponents' six second-half chances were worth a meagre 0.3 xG combined.

That figure stood at just 0.07 xG as the Czech Republic attempted in vain to rescue a result in an uneventful second period in which England preferred to keep the ball a little more (53 per cent of the possession).

England have given up opportunities worth 0.77 xG across their three second halves. In the group stage, Spain (0.93) were the only other team below 1.0 in this sense.

Besides against Croatia, when Sterling struck on 57 minutes, England have benefited from not needing to chase a result, with their own second-half xG of 1.57 the seventh-lowest.

"We look difficult to play against," was Southgate's summary, one he will hope holds true against Germany, whose average possession percentage (64.7) far outweighs Croatia's (55.5).

With or without the ball, though, England have managed to dictate the pace of the play – and it is slow.

While averaging 4.5 passes per sequence in the first round – the seventh-highest – Southgate's side ranked last for both direct speed (0.98 metres progressed upfield per second) and directness (17 per cent of distance covered per sequence was upfield).

Crucially, the opposition were slowed, too. Only against Spain (0.87) did teams progress fewer metres upfield per second than against England (1.1), whose opponents moved upfield with a tournament-low 19 per cent of their distance covered per sequence. Croatia and the Czech Republic each fell below their averages in both metrics when facing England.

"I felt like we've been in control in the games," said captain Harry Kane, adding: "I feel like we're in a controlled place going into the big match on Tuesday."

But the worry will be whether England remain capable of responding, picking up the pace should their plodding plan fail and they fall behind.

In the 20 games that followed the 2018 World Cup, England conceded first four times and won on each occasion.

However, since then, in 12 outings, they have lost both such matches without scoring (1-0 v Denmark, 2-0 v Belgium). In Russia, Southgate's side were beaten in all three games in which they trailed at any stage.

After the Scotland stalemate, Southgate said of his reluctance to throw on additional offensive players: "If we had to chase to win, with no consequences for conceding, then you might approach it differently."

So, perhaps it might take England to concede first for fans to see the all-out attacking approach they crave. 

If that happens, though, the form book suggests the Three Lions may well end up bidding their tournament hopes arrivederci.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.