Despite there being a veritable surfeit of mouth-watering fixtures thrown up by the vagaries of the system in the UEFA Euro 2020 pre-quarterfinals, the one match everyone looked ahead to was England vs Germany.
The storied history of the England-Germany football rivalry goes back ages and consists of numerous epic meetings at the grandest stage of the game. From exultation to agony, from brilliance to controversy, this match-up between two of the behemoths of the game has seen it all. Fans will be hoping their UEFA Euro 2020 Round-of-16 clash is no different.
Joachim #Löw: "This is what being a coach is all about. This is my passion too; taking part in games like this. That's how it's been in the past and that's how it will be tomorrow evening. I'm concentrating solely on the game." #ENGGER #EURO2020 #GER #DieMannschaft pic.twitter.com/TRbvRXFkWj— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) June 28, 2021
England, Germany set to be a nervy ride for giants in UEFA Euro 2020 knockouts
To be honest, neither England nor Germany, who will take the field at Wembley on Tuesday, have been at their vintage best.
Gareth Southgate’s men looked blunt in attack but solid at the back in their comfortable ride to the second round. Meanwhile, Germany endured a real roller-coaster of a ride in the group of death, where they were in serious danger of elimination before coming through.
With the round already engendering scintillating football and massive upsets in the form of World Champions and pre-tournament favourites France and deposed champions Portugal heading home, UEFA Euro 2020 is becoming anyone’s game.
On paper, if one was not aware of the history of this fixture, one might actually earmark the Three Lions as the favourites in this UEFA Euro 2020 fixture based on ranking, home advantage and even results in the group stage.
But the form book is well and truly thrown out when Die Mannschaft take on familiar foes England, who have suffered many a heartbreak at their hands on the biggest stage since their 1966 FIFA World Cup final triumph. Germany might actually fancy their chances against England, based on history alone.
Either way, it promises to be a nerve-wracking experience for both sides. On that note, let’s take a look at the five key matchups that might decide who goes through in this marquee UEFA Euro 2020 clash.
Final training session 💪— England (@England) June 28, 2021
Travel to London 🚌
Ready for tomorrow 👊 pic.twitter.com/cFiCUbLbgy
#5 Serge Gnabry (Germany) vs Harry Maguire (England)
Though Germany haven’t found it tough scoring at Euro 2020 except for their blockbuster opener against France, they have not played an out-and-out forward in their starting line-up. The former champions have instead chose to play wide-forwards topped up by one central attacker in a diamond.
Serge Gnabry has done the job as a forward in all the games and is certain to start this one. A prolific attacker at club level, he is seen operating more on the inside channel for Germany than on the outside as he does for Bayern
Hence, though his traditional battle will be with the England left-back, he is likely to face off a fair few times with Manchester United captain Harry Maguire, who will start as the left-sided central defender for the Three Lions. That is unless Gareth Southgate reverts to a back-three for this UEFA Euro 2020 match-up, in which case Maguire will be even more in the battles with Gnabry.
Gnabry is a powerhouse of skills and pace but is yet to come into full bloom in the tournament. It will be intriguing to see how Maguire, himself a literal late starter at UEFA Euro 2020, having missed the start through injury, tackles the Bayern star.
#4 Jack Grealish (England) vs Joshua Kimmich (Germany)
This duel promises to be a mouth-watering battle. With Mason Mount set to miss out on playmaking duties due to COVID-19 quarantine-related issues, fan favourite Jack Grealish is set to be deployed down England’s left wing.
He has already shown glimpses of his brilliance with a characteristic cross-assist in England’s win over the Czech Republic but might have much more on his plate in this
Meanwhile, Joshua Kimmich is one of the most versatile players operating at the elite level right now. A proficient midfielder, Kimmich is equally adept at right-back, and with the presence of Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan in the German midfield, will begin this one as a right wing-back. Kimmich will not only be tasked with moving play up the field as part of raids down the wings but also keep Grealish in check.
Kimmich has already racked up two assists to his name in UEFA Euro 2020 and has recovered eight balls, showing his prowess at both ends of the pitch. Meanwhile, Grealish will be central to England’s creative plans as well, so this will be a key battle to determine who controls this vital UEFA Euro 2020 game.