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.

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."

Is Lionel Messi's future on the verge of being resolved at Camp Nou?

Messi's contract with LaLiga powerhouse Barcelona expires this week and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked with a move.

But, if reports are to be believed, the superstar is poised to extend his long stay at Barca.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA READYING MESSI ANNOUNCEMENT

Barcelona are preparing to officially announce an agreement has been reached with Messi, according to Football Espana and Fabrizio Romano.

The superstar captain has been linked with Premier League champions Manchester City and Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain.

But Messi is now set to renew for a further two years at Barca, where the 34-year-old has spent his entire senior career.

 

ROUND-UP

City will renew their attempts to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham after Euro 2020, claims Romano. City are among a host of clubs interested in Kane, who is also reportedly wanted by Manchester United, Chelsea, Barca, Real Madrid and PSG. Spurs, however, are unwilling to sell the England star. City have also been linked with Inter's Romelu Lukaku and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

Brahim Diaz will join Milan from Madrid on loan with an option to buy, reports Sky Sport. The Spaniard spent the 2020-21 season on loan at San Siro. Milan are also interested in Alvaro Odriozola if they are unable to bring Diogo Dalot back from United.

- Gianluca Di Marzio says Arsenal are trying to sign Benfica full-back Nuno Tavares, who has also been linked with Napoli and Lazio.

- Serie A champions Inter are eyeing Franck Kessie amid his contract stalemate with neighbours Milan, according to Tuttosport.

- Tuttosport reports Arsenal are pressing to bring Italy forward Andrea Belotti to London from Torino. Roma have long been linked with Belotti, as well as Milan.

Juventus are ready to make a bid for Lille and Portugal star Renato Sanches, per Calciomercato. Milan are also interested as Juve look to prise Manuel Locatelli from Sassuolo.

- Mundo Deportivo says Atletico Madrid are interested in former Barca midfielder Paulinho. The Brazilian is a free agent after leaving Chinese outfit Guangzhou FC.

- There are two clubs trying to sign Luka Jovic from Madrid, claims Diario AS. Jovic, who returned to former club Eintracht Frankfurt on loan in 2020-21, has been linked with Milan.

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports Achraf Hakimi will complete his move to PSG from Inter, who are eyeing Arsenal's Hector Bellerin as a replacement.

Germany playmaker Thomas Muller hopes striker Harry Kane's England goal drought goes on a little while longer.

England renew their rivalry with Germany next Tuesday in a mouth-watering Euro 2020 last-16 tie at Wembley with misfiring Kane set to lead the line for the Three Lions.

Kane started all three of England's Group D matches, but has just a solitary shot on target to show for his efforts.

The 27-year-old came into the tournament on the back of formidable season in the Premier League with Tottenham as he topped the goals (23) and assist (14) charts but has struggled so far.

He has managed five shots in total, three of which were deemed as 'big chances' by Opta. No other England player missed more than one across those three games.

"Great strikers are the best at being patient," Muller told a news conference.

"A striker is always waiting for his chances. He usually has the least contact with the ball, but the biggest picture in the newspaper after the game. 

"I don't know why he hasn't got into the final positions that he normally comes in. For us it wouldn't be a problem at all if the discussion lasts until Wednesday and we don't concede a goal.

"We're in the round of 16. We won against England World Cup 2010. That has nothing to do with Tuesday, but it might make one or the other feel good. We're looking forward to the big game with England."

Muller claimed he will be fit to face England having struggled with a knee injury during the tournament.

He added: "If I had problems I would not have trained today. The injury does not hinder me. I am experienced enough to deal with it. I am convinced that it will not be a problem for Tuesday."

Meanwhile, Serge Gnabry has backed Leroy Sane to silence the fans who have jeered his performances for Germany at Euro 2020.

Sane has no goals, assists and just one attempt on goal so far in the tournament.

"With the talent and skill level that Leroy has, he will always prevail," Gnabry said.

"It hasn't been so smooth yet. But if he gets his chance, he has to take it. I don't notice anything in the game. He gave Hungary the run-around, worked defensively. He can build on that. 

"We never need whistles. I can't understand why people whistle."

Harry Kane believes he is ready to "peak" for England's blockbuster Euro 2020 last-16 clash with Germany at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday. 

Kane topped the goalscoring and assist charts in the Premier League this past season but has been unable to replicate that level of influence at the European Championship so far.

The 27-year-old started all three of England's Group D matches, yet he managed just a solitary shot on target. 

He had five shots in total, three of which were deemed as 'big chances' by Opta. No other England player missed more than one across those three games. 

Kane won the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup, with five of his six goals coming in the Three Lions' group games, and the Tottenham man is confident of doing the opposite at Euro 2020. 

"People are quick to change their mind, it wasn't too long ago when I won the Golden Boot and I was the best thing in the world," he said. 

"People were raving about me, and that's why I've always said, as a footballer, you can't get too high or too low, you just have to have that neutral mode. Self belief is a huge thing.

"I've always believed in myself. I could go 10, 15 games without scoring but give me a chance and I'd back myself to score it. I'm in a good place. Going into Tuesday night, physically, I'm in the best shape of the tournament so far, and that's what I kind of wanted going into this. 

"I felt maybe in Russia [at the 2018 World Cup] I started on fire, scored loads of goals, then maybe didn't have my best performances in the most important games, the quarters and the semi-finals.

"So, coming into this, physically, I wanted to make sure I was peaking at the right time and obviously we won't know until Tuesday night if that's the case, but that's the way I feel it's going."

Kane admitted last month he feels at a "crossroads" in his career following another trophyless campaign with Tottenham, where he has spent the past 17 years.

The striker has subsequently been linked with a host of European giants, although Premier League champions Manchester City appear to be leading the race for his signature. 

However, Kane – linked to Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United – insisted speculation over his future has had no impact on his performances in the tournament so far. 

"I feel like when I come away with England I'm just fully focused on England," he said. "My brother is my agent, but the only time I've spoken to my brother really over the last few weeks is 'good luck, let's get a win, and let's take England all the way'.

"So, it doesn't really bother me about the outside noise. When I'm here I'm with the boys, I try to help the boys, and be a leader in the team. I need to get to know the boys, see what makes certain players tick, and the younger lads, helping them, so I feel like I've got enough on my plate to worry about anything outside of England.

"That's where I'm at and, of course, I feel like it's one of them where if you're not scoring as a striker, people look for every little angle why you're not scoring and that's probably the case in this tournament so far.

"But, like I said, as long as I'm focused, I've got the self belief I have, I'm not worried about anyone else."

Is Lionel Messi's future close to being resolved?

Messi is out of contract at Barcelona and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked with a move away.

But, if reports are to be believed, the superstar is on the verge of extending his Barca contract.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI SET TO RENEW AT CAMP NOU

Lionel Messi will renew his contract with Barcelona until 2023, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Messi is out of contract at Camp Nou and the superstar captain has been linked with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

But Messi is poised to re-sign, with an official deal reportedly only a matter of time.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are edging closer to signing long-time transfer target and Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, reports Bild.

- Diario AS claims Real Madrid are set to rival Arsenal for Real Sociedad star Alexander Isak. The Sweden international appeals as a more affordable option compared to Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and PSG forward Kylian Mbappe.

- Inter star Achraf Hakimi is expected to join PSG, says Romano. Personal terms have reportedly been agreed until 2026. He has also been linked with Chelsea.

- Premier League champions City are willing to wait a year to sign a striker if they are unable to prise Harry Kane from Tottenham, according to ESPN. Kane has been linked with City, United, Chelsea, Madrid and Barca amid reports he wants to leave Spurs. With Tottenham unwilling to sell Kane, City are prepared to wait in the transfer market as they also eye Haaland.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Inter want to sign Barca full-back Jordi Alba, with the Serie A holders willing to offer three players – Milan Skriniar, Lautaro Martinez and Marcelo Brozovic.

- Maurizio Sarri's Lazio are close to signing Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira, reports Sky Sport Italia.

West Ham have made a bid to sign Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic, says Sky Sport Italia. The Serbia international has previously been linked with Tottenham, United and Milan.

The Premier League's big-money clubs are circling for Aston Villa's Jack Grealish.

The England midfielder is drawing interest from multiple suitors keen to lure him away from Villa Park.

Could a move be on the cards after the Euros? 

 

TOP STORY – BLUES WANT GREALISH

Chelsea are strong contenders to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa, Football Insider reports. 

The England international has also drawn interest from Manchester City, but the Blues' involvement could change the dynamic. 

Football Insider claims owner Roman Abramovich has approved the type of expenditures that would be necessary to land players like Grealish, and winning the Champions League will only loosen the reins on Chelsea's spending. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Kylian Mbappe wants to move on from Paris Saint-Germain, according to RMC Sport, which says the France international will depart on a free transfer when his contract expires next year if he does not move during this window. 

- Lionel Messi's long-anticipated new contract with Barcelona could be announced as soon as Thursday, according to Le 10 Sport. 

- If Man City are to complete a deal to land Harry Kane from Tottenham, they will need to do it without using Raheem Sterling in a swap deal. Sterling has no interested in joining Spurs as part of the reported £100million move for Kane, ESPN said. 

- Sergio Ramos plans to join PSG, AS reports, spurning interest from City and Manchester United

- Chelsea see Villarreal's Gerard Moreno as a fall-back option if they cannot sign Erling Haaland, according to Fichajes. 

- Milan are looking at Rafinha of PSG as a potential addition as Hakan Calhanoglu moves on, Calciomercato reports. 

- England defender James Tarkowski is drawing interest from Wolves and West Ham, the Telegraph reports, while the Mail says Leicester City also are eyeing the Burnley man. 

- Scott Parker is set to depart Fulham and become Bournemouth's new manager, The Athletic reports. 

Is Harry Kane headed for Manchester?

The England international, busy on Euro 2020 duty, is reportedly unhappy at Tottenham.

A move from London to Manchester could be on the cards.

 

TOP STORY – CITY MAKE KANE OFFER

Manchester City have made an official £100million bid to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Kane reportedly wants to leave Tottenham amid links with Premier League champions City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

However, Spurs are reluctant to sell the star Tottenham and England forward.

City are offering up Gabriel Jesus as they look to sign either Kane or Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, claims The Times.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sky Sport reports Inter are expecting PSG to make a new bid for star full-back Achraf Hakimi in the next few days. Chelsea and Bayern Munich have also been linked.

United want Villarreal defender Paul Torres in a swap deal, claims the Manchester Evening News. United are keen to bolster their defence and have also been linked with moves for free agent Sergio Ramos, Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane, Sevilla's Jules Kounde and Cristian Romero of Atalanta.

- Mundo Deportivo says LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid are interested in Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne. The Italy international is heading into the final year of his contract at Napoli. Barcelona, Milan and Liverpool have been linked previously.

Juventus will open talks with Sassuolo for star midfielder Manuel Locatelli, according to Sky Sport. Locatelli has also been linked with Inter, Madrid and City.

- Marca reports Milan could make a move for Madrid defender Alvaro Odriozola, who is a target should the Rossoneri fail to retain the services of United's Diogo Dalot.

England will look to dispel doubts around their attacking power when they face the Czech Republic in their final Euro 2020 Group D game on Tuesday.

The 0-0 draw with Scotland at Wembley was the Three Lions' 17th at the Euros and World Cup combined, the most of any nation, while it was just the fourth goalless game out of 115 meetings between the sides.

England managed only one shot on target throughout the match, recording a value of just 1.45 expected goals throughout, their lowest such figure in a European Championship fixture since they drew 1-1 with Russia at Euro 2016 (xG of 0.79).

While four points from two games has both England and the Czech Republic in a strong position to qualify for the last 16 – a draw would secure a top-two finish for both – the scrutiny of the form of Gareth Southgate's side, particularly forwards such as Harry Kane, means they are under huge pressure to perform at Wembley Stadium.

 

Southgate would surely wish for a positive display as he reaches 57 games in charge of his country, a tally that equals the number of caps he won as a player, as debate rages over whether he should embrace a bolder approach and hand starts to Jack Grealish or Jadon Sancho.

Regardless, Manchester City's Phil Foden says there is no reason to doubt Southgate's credentials as he looks to steer England into the knockouts.

"He's a great coach and working with him every day I get to see what he's like," Foden told talkSPORT. "He always has the players' backs and I believe that his tactics are great.

"All these negative people don't know what they're talking about because Gareth's a great coach. Everyone trains very well every day and, whatever team he selects, we're going to trust and back.

"Everyone plays differently, that's the depth we have in the squad. Everyone has different qualities."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

England – Harry Kane

Kane has scored in each of his previous two games against the Czech Republic. Both of those came from penalties but, right now, the Tottenham star would settle for a spot-kick.

Kane has only scored two goals in his past 11 appearances for the Three Lions, after scoring 13 times in his previous 11. He is a man in need of a boost.

Czech Republic – Tomas Soucek

One way Jaroslav Silhavy's side can keep Kane quiet is through blocking the supply lines and limiting the space in which he thrives. Over to you, Tomas Soucek.

In the draw with Croatia, the West Ham man contested five aerial duels, made three clearances and completed 51 passes, the most of anyone on the pitch. His efficiency in winning back and distributing the ball makes him a key cog in the Czech team.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- The Czech Republic and England were in the same qualifying group for Euro 2020 – England won 5-0 at Wembley and the Czech Republic prevailed 2-1 in Prague. They are facing each other in a major tournament for the first time.
- The four previous meetings between the Czech Republic and England produced 14 goals, an average of 3.5 per game.
- England are looking to keep clean sheets in every group stage match at a major tournament for only the third time, also doing so at the 1966 World Cup (three matches) and in the second group stage of the 1982 World Cup (two matches).
- Patrik Schick has scored in each of his first two Euros appearances for the Czech Republic, netting three goals. Since his international debut in May 2016, Schick has scored 14 goals in 28 appearances for his national team, more than any other Czech player.
- Raheem Sterling's only hat-trick with the England national team was against the Czech Republic, in the European Championship qualifier at Wembley in March 2019 (5-0).

England will look to dispel doubts around their attacking power when they face the Czech Republic in their final Euro 2020 Group D game on Tuesday.

The 0-0 draw with Scotland at Wembley was the Three Lions' 17th at the Euros and World Cup combined, the most of any nation, while it was just the fourth goalless game out of 115 meetings between the sides.

England managed only one shot on target throughout the match, recording a value of just 1.45 expected goals throughout, their lowest such figure in a European Championship fixture since they drew 1-1 with Russia at Euro 2016 (xG of 0.79).

While four points from two games has both England and the Czech Republic in a strong position to qualify for the last 16 – a draw would secure a top-two finish for both – the scrutiny of the form of Gareth Southgate's side, particularly forwards such as Harry Kane, means they are under huge pressure to perform at Wembley Stadium.

 

Southgate would surely wish for a positive display as he reaches 57 games in charge of his country, a tally that equals the number of caps he won as a player, as debate rages over whether he should embrace a bolder approach and hand starts to Jack Grealish or Jadon Sancho.

Regardless, Manchester City's Phil Foden says there is no reason to doubt Southgate's credentials as he looks to steer England into the knockouts.

"He's a great coach and working with him every day I get to see what he's like," Foden told talkSPORT. "He always has the players' backs and I believe that his tactics are great.

"All these negative people don't know what they're talking about because Gareth's a great coach. Everyone trains very well every day and, whatever team he selects, we're going to trust and back.

"Everyone plays differently, that's the depth we have in the squad. Everyone has different qualities."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

England – Harry Kane

Kane has scored in each of his previous two games against the Czech Republic. Both of those came from penalties but, right now, the Tottenham star would settle for a spot-kick.

Kane has only scored two goals in his past 11 appearances for the Three Lions, after scoring 13 times in his previous 11. He is a man in need of a boost.

Czech Republic – Tomas Soucek

One way Jaroslav Silhavy's side can keep Kane quiet is through blocking the supply lines and limiting the space in which he thrives. Over to you, Tomas Soucek.

In the draw with Croatia, the West Ham man contested five aerial duels, made three clearances and completed 51 passes, the most of anyone on the pitch. His efficiency in winning back and distributing the ball makes him a key cog in the Czech team.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- The Czech Republic and England were in the same qualifying group for Euro 2020 – England won 5-0 at Wembley and the Czech Republic prevailed 2-1 in Prague. They are facing each other in a major tournament for the first time.
- The four previous meetings between the Czech Republic and England produced 14 goals, an average of 3.5 per game.
- England are looking to keep clean sheets in every group stage match at a major tournament for only the third time, also doing so at the 1966 World Cup (three matches) and in the second group stage of the 1982 World Cup (two matches).
- Patrik Schick has scored in each of his first two Euros appearances for the Czech Republic, netting three goals. Since his international debut in May 2016, Schick has scored 14 goals in 28 appearances for his national team, more than any other Czech player.
- Raheem Sterling's only hat-trick with the England national team was against the Czech Republic, in the European Championship qualifier at Wembley in March 2019 (5-0).

Harry Kane will start England's final Group D match against the Czech Republic despite two scoreless outings at Euro 2020, with Gareth Southgate describing the Tottenham striker as "our most important player".

Kane topped the goalscoring and assist charts in the Premier League this season but has been unable to replicate that level of influence in the tournament so far.

England followed up a 1-0 win over 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia in their opening match with a dour 0-0 draw against neighbours Scotland.

Kane is yet to have a shot on target and his 19 touches versus Scotland were his fewest in any England game in which he has played 45 minutes or more.

Southgate substituted Kane in both matches but the Three Lions boss will keep faith with the Russia 2018 Golden Boot winner at Wembley on Tuesday.

"You can assume that, absolutely – I don't mind giving you that one," he said with a grin when asked by ITV whether his captain would remain part of the first XI.

Southgate went on to explain the rationale of Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford being used as the attacking focal point instead of Kane for the closing stages of both matches.

 

"In one of the games we were already ahead, we needed energy to press and keep the lead. We didn't need an additional goal," he said.

"Harry, during the World Cup, we ended up with him playing a lot of football and we felt the need to manage that load a little bit this time and we have got good options on the bench to bring people into the game.

"But he's our most important player, there's no doubt about that. You've only got to look at his goalscoring record for us to see his importance to the team.

"He's fundamental, not only with the goals he scores but the build-up play and everything else he brings.

"I know there'll be a lot of questions being asked about him at the moment but he's been through that 100 times before.

"I've answered that in this role several times in the past and he's come up with the goals that have won us the next games. I expect that to be the same moving forward."

Kane's struggles are part of a wider picture of England failing to create high-quality chances across the board.

His three shots have a combined expected goals (xG) value of 1.01, the highest xG figure in Southgate's squad ahead of Mason Mount (four shots, 0.66 xG) and Croatia matchwinner Raheem Sterling (three shots, xG 0.62).

Centre-back John Stones is next up on an xG of 0.35, having headed his sole attempt of the tournament against the post from a Mount corner early on against Scotland.

"He works so hard for the team. People might not recognise what he does off the ball and the pressing that he does," said England and Atletico Madrid right-back Kieran Trippier, a former team-mate of Kane's at Spurs.

"I believe in Harry and I know he'll score goals. Harry's chances will come and, for sure, he'll score goals.

"He's had an unbelievable season with Spurs, he is fit, he's working hard every single day in training. It's just about trying to get the chances to him.

"We all know we need to create as much as we can in the game. For sure, Harry will score goals."

Real Madrid are among the most active clubs in the transfer market. 

Carlo Ancelotti could look to his former side for help as he starts his second spell in charge.

So, are an Everton double act on the move to LaLiga? 
 

TOP STORY – ANCELOTTI EYES EVERTON PAIR

Ancelotti has his eye on a pair of players from the club he left as he assembles his team in his return to Real Madrid.

The veteran manager would like to bring Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin to the Bernabeu, according to the Sun. 

The report says he believes £50million would be enough to convince the Toffees to part with the England international. 

Ancelotti is also contemplating a reunion with a man he brought to Goodison Park, with Sport reporting James Rodriguez is a possibility to return to Real Madrid.   

Sevilla's Jules Kounde is also on Ancelotti's list, Marca reports, though the quoted €80m (£69m) asking price will be a concern. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are set to bid more than £75m to bring Jadon Sancho back to England after Borussia Dortmund rejected an initial £67m offer, the Mail reports.

- United also face competition from Paris Saint-Germain for Atletico Madrid's English full-back Kieran Trippier, says France Football. 

- Manchester City will offer about £100m to lure Harry Kane from Tottenham, the Star reports.

- Barcelona would like to add Andre Silva to their strike force with a €35m offer to Eintracht Frankfurt, ESPN reported. Manchester City and Atletico also are interested in the Portugal international. 

- in the meantime, Miralem Pjanic is set to leave Barca for a return to Serie A, with Juventus the expected landing spot, Corriere dello Sport claims. 

Luke Shaw has declared Harry Kane "the best striker in the world" and says his team-mate's goalless start to Euro 2020 is no concern to England.

Kane fired a blank in England's 1-0 win over Croatia in last week's Group D opener and was again off the pace as the Three Lions were held 0-0 by Scotland on Friday.

The Tottenham man managed just 19 touches before being substituted in the 74th minute – the fewest he has ever had in an England game when playing more than 45 minutes.

The last time he had fewer touches for Spurs while playing for more than 45 minutes was against Manchester City in April 2018 (17 touches in 90 minutes).

 

But despite Kane failing to register a shot on target in two successive games for club or country for the first time since November, Shaw insists the England skipper's pedigree cannot be questioned.

"There's no concern at all. Personally, I think he's the best striker in the world," Shaw said of the 2018 World Cup Golden Boot winner and three-time Premier League top scorer.

"He is a very important part of the team, in fact the most important part. I think whether he has not been at his best or not he is a massive part and a crucial player for us.

"We need him whether his performances are as people expected or not, but this happens in tournament football.

"You can score a goal at any moment and he is such a crucial player – not just on the pitch but off the pitch. He has got all of our backing and I'm not worried at all."

England were frustrated by spirited rivals Scotland on Friday in the first goalless match between the sides at Wembley in 33 meetings.

Gareth Southgate's men could have confirmed a place in the knockout stages with victory, but they now have work to do in their final group match against the Czech Republic.

The Three Lions are behind the Czechs on goal difference ahead of Tuesday's match, meaning a win is required if they are to finish top.

Following criticism on the back of the toothless display against Scotland, Shaw has put the stalemate into perspective with England as good as assured of a last-16 spot.

"There is no denying that there is a lot of disappointment," he said.

"We would have liked to win the game but you have to look at it in the way of another point in the right direction.

"If it was the other way round, we drew with Croatia and won today, it would have been four points still so we have to keep positive.

"I think there should always be expectation, the team we have, the talent is very strong. 

"Of course we can take the expectation but maybe this result brought us back down to earth to make us realise it is not going to be easy."

 

England, who have never made it beyond the semi-finals of the European Championships, are on course to meet either Portugal, France, Germany or Hungary in the next round.

Taking positives from a 14th clean sheet in 18 matches for England in all competitions, Shaw added: "Our aim is to be here for seven games. 

"We will sit down and watch the game back and analyse what we want to do better because there are things we could have done better as a team.

"Maybe in this game we weren't at our best and that shows, but it is another clean sheet. 

"We still have another big game on Tuesday and we have to forget about this one and be ready."

Harry Kane reportedly informed Tottenham of his desire to leave the club in the final week of the 2020-21 season.

The England international has since been linked with Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United.

Tottenham are desperate to retain their talisman, let alone allow him to join a rival English club.

 

TOP STORY – KANE OPEN TO CONTINENTAL SWITCH

Harry Kane is willing to move abroad for his next challenge as Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain circle for his signature, according to 90min.

The report claims Kane is unimpressed with Tottenham's search for a new manager to replace Jose Mourinho and the England international has been linked to Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United.

PSG, who are in the market for a striker having been linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland amid doubts over the future of Real Madrid target Kylian Mbappe, are led by Kane's ex-Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino.

 

ROUND-UP

PSG have renewed their efforts to sign United star French midfielder Paul Pogba, reports to Le Parisien. Juventus and Madrid have also been linked.

United, PSG and Sevilla are keen to sign superstar defender Sergio Ramos after he left Real Madrid, claims 90min.

- Diario AS says Real Sociedad's Swedish forward Alexander Isak is attracting interest from Chelsea, joining Arsenal in the race to sign him.

Liverpool are interested in Sassuolo's Italy international winger Domenico Berardi, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Corriere dello Sport reports Miralem Pjanic could be headed back to Juventus from Barcelona on a two-year loan, part financed by the Catalans. Inter and Chelsea have also been linked.

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