German fans can feel confident about playing England – they have a winning record against the Three Lions
Germany may have stumbled through Group F to finish in second place, following a nervy and wholly unconvincing 2-2 draw with Hungary, but the nation believes a knock-out round clash with England may be exactly what Jogi Löw’s side need to fix their troubles.
The four-time World Cup winners spent much of their final group game a goal down to Hungary, before Chelsea forward Kai Havertz scored an equaliser shortly after the hour mark.
However, Marco Rossi’s side equalised almost immediately after the German breakthrough and it wasn’t until a rebounded shot from Leon Goretzka six minutes from time landed in the back of the net that Germany knew they were safe and through to the next round.
"I hope that we have arrived in the tournament now,” said a relieved Joshua Kimmich on German broadcaster ZDF at full time, after admitting that he thought his side were going to be knocked out after Hungary’s second goal. “We want to show that against England, especially after we’ve seen three different games now. But Wembley: awesome, there’s almost no better game."
Manuel Neuer said playing at Wembley "suits" Germany
Team captain Manuel Neuer was in an equally defiant mood when asked about the prospect of Germany raising their game to match Gareth Southgate’s side in London in five days time.
"It’s a completely different game. You’ve seen it when we play against stronger teams,” remarked the Bayern Munich shot-stopper. “We have great guys and we still have confidence, even though we played 2-2 against Hungary. It’s a knockout game, we want to go further. Wembley suits us."
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Despite narrowly avoiding an embarrassing defeat and elimination from the competition, Kimmich and Neuer’s optimism for the clash against England was echoed throughout the nation in numerous TV studios at full-time.
"I think we are favourites against England,” suggested Michael Ballack on Magenta TV. “They haven’t convinced me yet and they suit us better. Going forward, we don’t have to be afraid of them. But of course we need an improvement in performance."
When asked how Germany could quickly improve in the latter stages of the tournament, Ballack said: "We should find a formation in which the players feel comfortable and feel at home. We play a system that many players from their clubs are not familiar with and are therefore still in the process of finding out."
Euros – Road to the final
And he wasn’t alone. After spending much of the evening lamenting the poor performances of Leroy Sane on the wing, Euro 1996 winner Mehmet Scholl was then asked how he felt ahead of the clash at Wembley. “England suits us,” remarked the former Bayern star with a sudden change of tone. “I’m not so pessimistic about that.”
Perhaps the only hint of caution came in the form of former Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker, who wore a troubled expression in the ZDF studio after watching Germany’s best players and Löw explain away the Hungary performance and brush aside any concerns of an English threat.
“You notice their body language and you realise that we didn’t do much good today,” said the former defender. “They just were not at all determined and were a bit naive in parts. If we continue to do that we’ll have no chance against a nation like England.”
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