More than three points at stake

Rob Harris

London: When you’re training at Sir Bobby Charlton’s compound in England, it’s impossible to escape the brunt of history.

Especially if Gareth Southgate is your technician.

Southgate’s missed penalty against Germany prevented England from reaching the Euro 1996 final at Wembley’s old stadium.

The English had already lost on penalties to Germany in the 1990 World Cup. 20 years later, England suffered another massive bitter against Germany by failing to validate a legitimate goal.

For all this, Tuesday’s duel between the English and the Germans at the new Wembley Stadium will have the flavor of revenge for the English.

The Germans also have a fork through. A controversial goal from Geoff Hurst paved the way for England to the 1966 World Cup finals at Wembley. “This is a wound that will never heal,” said German captain at the time, Uwe Seeler, in the run-up to the crash.

This final remains the only major title ever won by England. Germany has already participated in the World Cup finals and since then has added three more finals. It also has three European Championships, while England hold on to the nostalgia of 66, followed by many troubles, often at the hands of the Germans.

While England faces a new venture from Southgate, Germany is at the end of the cycle for Joachim Loew, who will leave his post at the end of the Euro. With Low, Germany was the 2014 world champion and advanced to the semi-finals of 2010. But they did not make it past the first round in 2018 and qualified for the last 16 after losing to France, beating Portugal and drawing with Hungary.

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In contrast, England won a group that included Croatia, the Czech Republic and Scotland.

Southgate says most of his players ignore the weight of the history of confrontations with Germany.

“We have children born after 2000,” he said. “For them all that doesn’t exist. What happened in 1990 and all that stuff.”

Southgate showed his players videos of his missed penalty in the semi-finals of Euro 96 before the start of the current competition.

“It’s good that he did it, and he can pass on his experience to us,” said England midfielder Calvin Phillips. “We don’t want to talk too much about it with Gareth in case it’s a sensitive topic for him.”

Like Phillips, right-back Robin Goossens was not born in 1996.

“Obviously, I heard about all of that,” he said. “It motivates you, you want to repeat it.”

If an English player is asked about his first memories of a match against Germany, he usually answers to that of the 2010 World Cup, when Frank Lampard’s shot crossed the line but the goal was not validated. This incident led to technology being used to determine whether or not a ball crossed the line.

Germany ended up winning that match 4-1, with two goals from Thomas Muller, who is part of the German squad today.

“It has nothing to do with this game,” Mueller said. “Although some may feel more motivated.”

The English and Germans know each other very well. There are German coaches in the Premier League, such as Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool and Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea, who are highly respected and loved in England for their knowledge and sympathy.

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“He has a lot of charisma,” England midfielder Jordan Henderson said, referring to his coach Klopp at Liverpool. “It’s an important component of English football.”

Six players in the German national team belong to English clubs, including Kai Havertz and Timo Werner, the attacking team that Chelsea won the Champions League. The great German promise Jamal Musiala, he played for both countries and this year he finally chose Germany.

“It was a shame he went with them,” said Mark Bullingham, president of the FA.

On the other hand, Germans wonder why Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, with the best performance in the Bundesliga, was not a starter for Southgate.


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