The most intriguing matchup of the Round of 16 kicks off on Tuesday at noon when Germany takes on England at Wembley Stadium in London. The two European powers will battle for the right to move forward to the quarterfinals, with the loser heading home much earlier than they would have anticipated before Euro 2020 began. This is one of the oldest national team rivalries in all of Europe; Germany has had the recent edge, but they’ve got their hands full with an English squad in top form.
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The Germans finished the group stage with a win, a loss, and a tie, which seems like an underwhelming start to Euro 2020, but not when you consider the level of competition. They landed in Group F, otherwise known as the ‘Group of Death,’ along with France, Portugal, and Hungary. Germany managed to finish second in the group and boasted a plus-1 goal differential, but some of their underlying numbers prove they were better than the standings showed.
Germany finished second in possession percentage, controlling the ball for 61.3% of the group stage. Spain ran away with the top spot at 67.5%, but Germany’s mark was impressive in its own right considering it was 5% higher than third-place England. The Germans also were the most accurate passers in the opening round-robin, connecting on an astounding 89.7% of their helpers.
After dropping their opening match to host France, Germany bounced back and hung four goals on Portugal in a 4-2 victory, but then dishearteningly allowed two to Hungary and ended up drawing the match. It was an up-and-down group stage for Germany, and given how difficult their first knockout game is, they’d better come out like the team who beat Portugal, not the team that looked disinterested vs. Hungary and overmatched vs. France.
The English are favored in this one, and they’ll have the home crowd behind them once again. This game will be played on English soil at Wembley Stadium, and despite the seats being just half-full, those in attendance will have the house rocking.
England played nowhere near as tough of a group stage schedule as Germany; they won two of their three matches and drew the other and didn’t let a single goal in their own net in three games. With the good comes the bad, of course, and in England’s case, the bad was their offensive output. They managed to net just two goals in three games, and while a lot of that can be chalked up to a strong defensive game and mindfulness in their own half, betting folks like ourselves would have hammered the fictional over for goals in the group stage if it was set at 2.5.
Jordan Pickford is the first England goalkeeper since Gordon Banks (1966) to keep three clean sheets in the group stages of a major tournament. #ENG #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/Gnv1FC1ppL
— Thomas Anderson (@TAndersonsport) June 22, 2021
Their 56.7% possession mark was good for third among all teams in the tournament, and that’ll be put to the test against a German squad that surely will plan to play downhill in an attempt to crack the so-far impenetrable fortress that is the English defense. They’ll need to play some attacking football of their own; Germany’s backline is exploitable, and an early goal would allow the English to revert to their lockdown style of play.
This is a tough one to call, but England has two distinct advantages. One is obvious, and it’s the location of the match. It’ll be in England, English fans will fill up as many seats as they can, and they’ll be loud and behind their countrymen. In a knockout game, a home-field advantage takes on extra importance.
The second is less obvious, but the clashing styles of play favor England. Germany will try and put pressure on the England backline, but England is more than equipped to stave off waves of pressure. They’ve done so all tournament. One deflection, broken play, or failed corner could and will send England on a counterattack, and Germany’s defense has been a bit leaky so far. They’ll be even more exposed when they’re out-manned on an attack, and I think that’s where the home team will cash in.
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