England’s quest for major tournament glory resumes on Tuesday, as they face old footballing foes Germany at Wembley Stadium (5pm; TV: Live on BBC1).
The Germans have long been something of a bogey team for the Three Lions, especially in tournaments, but can Gareth Southgate’s men change that? Or will Die Mannschaft do what they usually do and get the job done? Read on for Just Bookies’ full match preview.
The efforts so far
England made it through the groups in simple fashion. They got the job done first time out, beating Croatia by a goal to nil, while a 0-0 draw against Scotland and a further 1-0 victory over Czech Republic was more than enough to see the Three Lions progress as group winners. They did what was required without excelling, but there’s not much to say about England’s performances in the group stages. They’re through and now the real test begins.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Germany’s journey to the knockouts was much less simplistic, though they did have the misfortune of sharing a group with both the world champions and the European champions in France and Portugal.
First time out against France, Joachim Löw’s side were slack, losing by a goal to nil, but they rallied and delivered something of a devastating performance against Portugal on match-day two, scoring four goals en route to picking up three points. Against Hungary, they scrapped to a 2-2 draw, showing their attacking quality, but also exposing some defensive faults too.
Can England keep it tight?
England certainly haven’t dazzled throughout this tournament. They have offered little in the way of attacking threat, have scored only two goals in over 270 minutes of soccer, and simply haven’t looked like a side that is ready to deliver a knockout punch so to speak. However, they have been one of the sturdier sides at Euro 2020 so far. Only the Italians could match England’s record of zero goals conceded in the groups, which isn’t something to overlook.
In each of their three matches, England stood tall defensively and did not allow their opponents to breach that last line of defence. The question is can they do it against better opposition? Without disrespecting Croatia, Scotland or Czech Republic, the English are yet to be really tested defensively, having played three matches where opposition chances were at a premium.
It’s difficult to envisage the Germans entering the Wembley field and failing to put the pressure on England’s backline. It should be in this game that we learn whether England really are solid at the back or whether they’ve simply benefitted from facing lacklustre attacks.
Lack of creativity an issue
Germany didn’t make it through the groups as easily as England did, so much so that with just 15 minutes to go in their final match, they were heading out, but what the Germans have shown, against some strong sides it must be said, is an ability to create high-quality chances and score goals. The same simply cannot be said for England, who scored only two goals in three group matches and who created little in general.
Only one team made it through to the round of 16 having created less expected goals than England, who in three group games, posted an xG total of just 2.7. In contrast, the Germans delivered 5.1 expected goals for.
Tuesday’s visitors to Wembley also left the group stages behind with a better expected goal difference, putting up an average of +0.67 to England’s +0.43. This isn’t a tremendous difference, but when we consider that Germany had by far the tougher group stage opponents, it doesn’t reflect well on Southgate’s men.
Where’s the bet?
It’s one thing being tough to beat, or rather seemingly tough to beat, but that will only take you so far in tournament football. Sooner or later, you need to shift through the gears and seriously hurt the opposition, and that’s just not something that this England side seems to have in the locker. The Germans have shown much more offensively and that really could be key. On this basis. It’s easy to feel that there’s some juice in the price on a Germany win.
Germany have shown plenty in attack, they scored goals for fun against a tough Portugal side, and while they weren’t at their best against Hungary, they still created chances and scored twice. England failed to score twice against any of their opponents, nor did they create anything more than the bare minimum in terms of scoring opportunities, despite dominating possession. Talisman Harry Kane has been out of sorts. Germany’s extra attacking potency can see them through and punters looking to get involved are advised to back them to get the job done inside 90 minutes at generous looking odds of 19/10 in the match betting odds.
To score at anytime
If player props are your things, then Kai Havertz, who plays his club football in the Premier League, is a man to side with ahead of this fixture. The young forward has already found the net twice at this tournament, notching against both Portugal and Hungary, so he’s high on confidence, while he knows all about England’s defence having faced such opposition domestically over the last year.
Add in that the 22-year-old is averaging a very impressive 0.95 expected goals per 90 at Euro 2020 and odds of 10/3 on him finding the net in regular time against an England backline that is yet to be tested really do appeal.