England expects after Southgate’s boys make history
Perhaps in 25 years’ time, they’ll still be asking Gareth Southgate’s about this match as well.
His England team’s historic win over Germany – their first over their old foes in a major tournament knockout match since 1966 – felt like an iconic moment.
From the excitement on Wembley Way before the game and the electric atmosphere at kick-off to the team’s fight through the contest and eventual victory through Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane, it was something special.
But it will only be cemented in legendary status if England go on to win the tournament. Southgate knows that and revealed the immediate talk in the dressing room after the game was about Saturday’s quarter-final.
“This is a dangerous moment for us,” he said. It’s a typically cautious comment from England’s cautious manager but he can’t let his team get caught up in the buzz.
England’s fans will be mapping out the route to the final – and finding it unusually generous.
- England 2-0 Germany: Match report
- England 2-0 Germany: Player ratings
- England’s route: What’s next?
- Podcast: Southgate proves he knows best
Pre-tournament talk of “the semi-finals being a good achievement” always felt odd without knowing who England would play along the way. But now we know – and frankly, expectations must be reset.
England and their supporters will be disappointed not to make the final, given the calibre of opponents they have on their side of the draw. That’s not disrespectful but plain to see.
Then, if they make the final, at a Wembley packed with even more supporters than the number which cheered them on against Germany, England and their supporters will be disappointed not to win the whole thing too!
Southgate must protect his players from that kind of talk. But it will be hard to avoid.
Beating Germany is a massive moment. In part because it’s a treasured win over an old rival. But it’s also a gateway to far greater heights.
Southgate’s boys have made history. But England expects them now to make much more…
Grealish may have played his way back onto the bench
From the moment the right-footed Kieran Trippier was chosen at left-back against the Czech Republic for England’s opening Euro 2020 game, guessing Gareth Southgate’s team selections has become an expedition only for the brave or reckless to contemplate.
And while the reversion to a back-five against Germany was widely predicted, you’d have received long odds on Phil Foden, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish all sitting on the substitutes’ bench for an England last-16 tie. Grealish eventually proved to be the difference-maker off the bench against Germany, but that’s still no solid reason to suppose that he may have played his way into England’s starting XI on Saturday. Instead, he may have played his way back onto the bench.
With Southgate, expect the unexpected – but there’s usually some sound reasoning behind it too.
Our manager knows what he’s doing!
“We’ve just got to make sure we maximise what’s possible,” said Southgate on Tuesday night when the conversation inevitably turned towards Grealish. “With him and Hendo, they both missed 14 weeks of the season. These games are unbelievably intense. We know he’s a special talent and he can have a big impact as he did. It’s a conversation we had with him yesterday.”
Reading between the lines, it sounds as if Southgate typecast Grealish as an impact substitute against the Germans. If so, the England boss was absolutely vindicated.
Does that mean it is more or less likely that Grealish will start in Rome? Your guess is as good as anyone’s. But one unusual feature for Saturday’s fixture is the quick turnaround – at four days, the preparation time is half what England enjoyed before the Germany game. Which means, from a tactical perspective, less time on the training pitch. And, from a playing perspective, it also means that fatigue is likely to be a larger factor this weekend. Just the job for another impact substitution?
Time for change after painful Germany exit
It wasn’t just the end of Joachim Low’s 15-year spell as Germany manager as his side exited Euro 2020 against their oldest enemy at Wembley on Tuesday night.
Of his final starting XI, four will be approaching their mid-30s by the time the next tournament finals roll around. Considering the Qatar World Cup is only 18 months away, they have likely said goodbye to their last hope of tasting international silverware now.
Some may well travel to the far east but there is certainly a changing of the guard on the horizon for Germany when Hansi Flick takes over the reins of the national team, and perhaps not before time. Those four statesmen make up the spine of this Germany side, too – Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller.
Already the transition has started. Only 12 of the dismal 23 at World Cup 2018 made it into the 26-man squad, and Low gave Kai Havertz, 22, and Jamal Musiala, 18, their first tournament minutes.
💬 @Manuel_Neuer: "It was a huge opportunity for us to reach the quarterfinals, albeit up against a strong opponent. Unfortunately, we weren't able to take it. We're absolutely gutted."#DieMannschaft #GER #EURO2020 #ENGGER pic.twitter.com/TUG1tzDhQH
They are Germany’s future, but Flick has a job on his hands to rebuild. Plenty of big teams have gone through poor spells, but most bounce back quickly enough. France in 2002 then reached the World Cup final in 2006. Germany themselves at Euro 2004, before reaching the semis on home soil two years later.
Low’s parting comments sounded unusual. “This team needs to be more mature to be successful,” he said, having just fielded a side with 635 caps combined between them.
That should sound like more than an outgoing bitter note of frustration. If a team with the vast experience of Germany need more maturity, there is something lacking.
Considering they may be a much younger outfit by the time they likely reach Qatar, that could prove even more problematic.
There is certainly talent in this Germany squad, and plenty of potential. But with change must come that return to the winning spirit which had seen them reach at least the semi-finals every time they qualified from the European Championships group stages. Until Euro 2020.
Ukraine writing history; England will need to be wary…
It took more than 120 minutes of football for England to find out their quarter-final opponents.
It looked like it might even take longer with Ukraine and Sweden locked at 1-1 and heading for a penalty shootout, however, Artem Dovbyk popped up after 120 minutes and 37 seconds of football to head home what was recorded as the second-latest goal in European Championship history.
- How the teams lined up | In-depth stats and analysis
Ukraine reach the last eight…
Ukraine have reached the quarter-finals of a major tournament for only the second time, the previous instance being the 2006 World Cup (eliminated by Italy).
It sparked wild celebrations from Ukraine as Andriy Shevchenko’s side sealed their place in the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
It set up a showdown with England, who will have to be extremely wary of two Premier League stars in Man City defender Oleksandr Zinchenko and West Ham forward Andriy Yarmolenko.
Zinchenko became the fifth Man City player to score at Euro 2020 with Ukraine’s opener against Sweden and he produced a sublime cross to set up Dovbyk’s winner, and he’s looking to cause an upset in Rome on Saturday against a side he knows well.
“We are writing history, the whole country deserves it,” Zinchenko said after the win over Sweden. “But from [Wednesday] we need to think about the next game, the most difficult rival we have faced and a team considered to be one of the strongest in the world.
“I’ve watched all of England’s games, apart from today. I know a lot of those players from the Premier League. They’re really organised, they have a really good set of football and their bench probably costs more than three Ukrainian teams. But it shouldn’t be scary for us, it should motivate us. We’ll do everything we can.”
One thing Ukraine will have to guard against on Saturday evening is fatigue. Both Sweden and Ukraine struggled physically in extra-time, and Shevchenko admitted they face a challenge to recover the players after a huge physical and emotional effort.
But if one man can get the Ukraine players ready, it will be Shevchenko. He was Ukraine’s talisman on the pitch for so many years, and now he’s their inspiration off it, and he will have them ready try and create yet more history in Rome.
The small matter of a stoppage time winner in extra time will also help. England beware.
Podcast: Southgate proves he knows best | Is final minimum for England? | Ukraine scouting report
No, you didn’t dream it. England have beaten Germany in a knockout game, winning 2-0 at Wembley on an historic night to clear the path through Euro 2020. Alice Piper is joined by Rob Dorsett, Pete Smith and Gerard Brand to discuss the famous victory, including how Gareth Southgate once again proved his critics wrong.
With Ukraine up next, and Denmark or Czech Republic waiting in the semi-final, is the final now a minimum expectation for England? With Southgate’s side favourites, how will they set up? Plus: praise for Sterling, Grealish, Saka, Pickford, Kane and… well, just about everyone.
And in part 3, Oli Yew pops in for a Ukraine scouting report after their last-gasp extra-time win over Sweden. Should they be feared? All roads lead to Rome for Saturday’s quarter-final tie…
Listen on your provider now
Source: Read Full Article