For the first time in a long time England head into a major tournament game against Germany as favourites and with the Germans scraping through their group it’s easy to see why.
It is expected that Joachim Low will line his side up in his usual 3-4-3 which utilises wing backs to create the width and inverted wingers to occupy the number 10 spaces. This was so successful against the narrow Portuguese defence as they could not handle the flying wing backs down the line and sheer numbers of Germans in the box caused them havoc. The Portugal game was Germany at their magnificent best however they not been like that all tournament, a lacklustre loss to France and a lucky 2-2 draw with Hungary, means the Three Lions have every chance of beating them.
Predicted Line Up (3-4-3)
Neuer; Rudiger, Hummels, Ginter; Gosens, Kroos, Goretzka, Kimmich; Gnabry, Havertz, Muller.
The England players today should not fear this Germany team, if it wasn’t for a late Leon Goretzka equaliser against Hungary, Joachim Low would have led his side to back to back bottom of the group finishes in major tournaments. This team is a far cry from the one which went all the way to World Cup glory in 2014 of which only 5 players remain.
But this does not mean that this Germany side is not dangerous and cannot cause England problems because there are still world class players littered in their squad. Despite it being 11 years ago most England fans will remember how a young Thomas Muller picked apart the Three Lions and ended their World Cup hopes out in South Africa. This season he scored 15 goals and assisted 24 in all competitions for Bayern Munich, so do not put it past him to repeat his 2010 performance against England tonight.
Another player who could cause England problems tonight is Atalanta’s Robin Gosens. The left wing back has arguably been the Germans best player so far this summer and his man of the match performance against Portugal showed the world what he is all about. He is a powerful wing back who loves to fly down the line and whip the ball across the box, however he can be prone to leaving the back 3 exposed down the left-hand side, which was so nearly exploited by France if they could have kept themselves onside.
England could use this to their advantage, especially if the Three Lions can get the pace of Raheem Sterling running at the Die Mannschaft back 3, it will cause problems as Mats Hummels, and Matthias Ginter are not exactly blessed with speed. This vulnerability has been shown in the group stage with them conceding 5 in the 3 games, which compared to England is a stark contrast. Despite criticism from media and fans alike, Gareth Southgate has ensured a watertight defence which is the only backline not to concede at the EUROs so far.
However, this is a derby where all form goes out of the window, a game in which heroes and villains will be remembered for the longest of times, but not in a long time has England had a better chance of beating the Germans.