Germany's players joke with midfielder Kai Havertz (C) during a training session at the team base camp in Herzogenaurach
Credit: CHRISTOF STACHE
The sight of Andreas Möller strutting towards the crowd, glancing around meerkat-like with hands on hips, that sums up how German players feel about playing at the home of English football.
Möller has been asked about the celebration after he broke the hearts of the hosts at Euro 96 and he says it was just a natural reaction to winning a penalty shootout, rather than any arrogance. But it illustrates perfectly how Wembley holds no fear for Germany.
While it was the scene of their World Cup final defeat in 1966, in recent times there have been no scars from Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick or Russian linesmen. They head into Tuesday’s Euro last-16 clash unbeaten in north-west London since Möller’s decisive penalty. The unbeaten run stretches back to 1975 in the days of Colin Bell and Kevin Keegan.
So it is no surprise that Joachim Löw’s squad head into next week’s game in a relaxed enough mood to enjoy games of tennis and backgammon at the base camp in Bavaria.
The Bundesliga’s official website boldly posted an article titled “5 reasons Germany will beat England”. The lengthy missive included Germany’s excellent recent record at Wembley, Leon Goretzka’s return from injury and why Löw’s 3-4-3 system gets the best from Joshua Kimmich and Robin Gosens.
One section also reads: England might overlook a key player. There is consternation in Germany at the way Gareth Southgate has overlooked Jadon Sancho after another excellent season in Bundesliga. Even with injuries, he managed a healthy eight goals and 11 assists just in league matches.
Euro 2020: Pick your England team to face Germany
History suggests England will need all the help they can get when on home soil against the Germans.
While some teams freeze when they get to the famous stadium, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur both found when they were tenants that others tend to use it as motivation, with every occasion a cup final. That has been the case for Germany, although some of their victories have been landmark occasions like when Dietmar Hamann scored the winner before the twin towers were demolished.
Hamann told the Daily Telegraph in an interview last week that England are not seen as Germany’s main rivals, which may have a part in why they seem so relaxed when they return to the stadium.
They were party poopers again in 2013 when invited as opponents to mark the Football Association’s 150th anniversary, with the evening ending with England being jeered off the pitch by their own supporters after Per Mertesacker’s winner.
At the new Wembley, Germany have only conceded one goal, when Frank Lampard smashed one in at Jens Lehmann’s near post, yet it still ended in an away victory thanks to Christian Pander’s spectacular winner.
“Wembley suits us,” said Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer after their draw against Hungary sealed second place in Group F and a trip to London. His sentiments were echoed in the German press, with Bild declaring: “In our favourite stadium. A classic. But we have to get better. Much better. Otherwise we will look old against the hitherto harmless English."
Euro 2020: German advanced wing-backs
England have enjoyed their successes against Germany but none have recently been at Wembley. Scoring five came at Munich, while friendly wins have been on the road or at Euro 2000 in Charleroi.
Perhaps it is overlooked that at Wembley came one Germany’s great wins to secure Euro 96 against Czech Republic after Möller’s penalty sent them into the final. “An injury-ravaged side showed admirable courage,” was how the Bundesliga’s official website described it. Why would they not relish a return to the stadium?
"We had a good command of our 3-5-2 system and we were somewhat unpredictable," Matthias Sammer has explained. "We had outstanding technicians, but our trump card was solidarity and the collective will to end the tournament as champions. There were better in terms of play and tactics, but no one could beat us."
England have enjoyed a good record at home since the last World Cup, although Spain and Denmark managed victories in UEFA Nations League matches. The counter-argument to Germany holding no fear at Wembley is that these are unique circumstances for England.
As hosts of Tuesday’s clash and the semis and final, it is like a home tournament, which players have been looking forward to.
"I just think how big that tournament was in ’96 – which I was only two for,” said Jordan Pickford. “But to have the opportunity to play games at Wembley now is just massive for the nation and for us because in your career you don’t have many opportunities to play a major tournament at your home country."