Gareth Southgate has urged England to grasp the opportunity to put the Three Lions' poor Euros knockout record behind them but does not feel the omens will have a negative impact on the team.

England have never won a Euros knockout match in 90 minutes, with four of those six games going to penalties – only one of those (v Spain, Euro 96) ended in a victory for the Three Lions.

It is a damning indictment of England's underachievement in the tournament throughout its history.

While Southgate believes his young team have a great chance to overcome such a poor record, he also feels the players should not feel any extra pressure because of it.

"It's an incredible record really," Southgate told reporters on Monday. "I think it's something we've talked a lot about as a team over last four years – this team has that opportunity [to buck the trend].

"In previous eras we've spoken about the past and baggage. There's no reason for these players to feel that way, as most weren't born when those games happened. It's an irrelevance for them.

"But it's a fantastic game to be involved in and great opportunity to progress to a quarter-final."

 

A key area for consideration before Tuesday's game is whether Ben Chilwell or Mason Mount will be involved.

Both have been isolating after being identified as close contacts of Scotland's Billy Gilmour, who tested positive for coronavirus, but they will be allowed to mix with their team-mates again from midnight on Monday.

Southgate accepts the situation certainly has not been ideal, but he thinks either player could cope if needed to start.

"They're having to travel separately to the team," Southgate added. "They have had individual training programmes this week. The only sessions they've been able to join in with is when there's not full team training. That's the basis on which we have got to make a decision.

"Clearly, it's really complicated because there's the physical periodisation that you would want for a game like this. Then there's the tactical training.

"The meetings we've had, they have to be in a separate room and dial in on Zoom. The whole experience for them, including travelling down tonight is very, very difficult.

"But they are young players who can get on with things pretty well. It's a decision I've got to take when we're looking at how they've been able to train and everything else. There's a lot wrapped up in that call."

Southgate will surely be hoping star striker Harry Kane can finally have an impact at Euro 2020, with the Tottenham forward struggling to make his mark in the group stage.

He has managed just five shots in total and only one of those was on target, with Kane on zero goals from an xG value of 1.4.

His 11 touches in the penalty area are one fewer than Che Adams of Scotland, who finished bottom of England's group – but Kane insists his performances are the least of his worries if the Three Lions continue in the tournament.

"I've always said as a striker, you go through spells, sometimes spells don't go your way," he said. "The most important thing for me is we are winning games. The first objective was to qualify, which we've done, the second is to reach the quarter-finals.

"Whether I'm scoring, the most important thing is winning. That's all I'm focusing on at the moment. However we get it done, that's our main objective and we'll do everything in our power to get through."

England will have to overcome a wretched record in European Championship knockout matches if they are to get past their old nemesis Germany in the round of 16 on Tuesday.

The Three Lions go into the match having never won a knockout game in 90 minutes at the Euros, with four of their previous six attempts ending level and two leading to defeats.

Four of those past instances went to penalty shootouts and England only progressed from one of them, against Spain in Euro 96.

That victory came at Wembley, so perhaps the locale of Tuesday's clash will at least provide England with an edge – after all, they are unbeaten in their 14 Euros and World Cup matches (excluding penalty shootouts) at the 'Home of Football'.

 

While former Germany international Stefan Effenberg suggested that all the pressure will be on England because of the home crowd, Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate senses an opportunity.

The rivalry may be weighted more towards England in terms of the significance attached to these fixtures, but Southgate was keen to impress on his players that history is within their grasp.

"It's a great opportunity for this team to make some history and give people memories of England-Germany fixtures for the future that are a little different to some of the ones they've been flooded with over the last few days, which mean absolutely nothing to them because they weren't born," Southgate said.

"The game is probably worthy of more than the second-round stage. We're playing against a very good side.

"They won't fear coming to Wembley. We'll have to play at our very best. We've got to be tactically, physically and psychologically well-prepared."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

England – Raheem Sterling

With Harry Kane faltering in the group stage, looking a shadow of the sharpshooter who is usually so reliable for Tottenham and England, the goalscoring burden has fallen on Sterling. Despite a disappointing second half to 2020-21, the Manchester City winger has scored both of the Three Lions' Euro 2020 goals, taking him to 14 in his past 19 appearances for his country after just two in his first 45 caps.

 

Germany – Kai Havertz

From an individual perspective, Havertz's first season at Chelsea was not especially impressive. Having been roundly criticised in England during 2020-21, he will surely be eager to catch the eye here, and given his start to the tournament, many would back him to do just that. He's already got two goals, though the fact his non-penalty xG of 2.7 is the highest of anyone in the tournament suggests he's been a threat beyond those two efforts. For example, the total xG of sequences he has been involved in (3.8) is bettered by only Pedri (4.6 - before Spain played Croatia) and Memphis Depay (4.4). Write him off at your peril.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Germany's Ilkay Gundogan has scored twice at Wembley, for Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League final and for Manchester City in the Premier League. He could become just the second player to score at the ground for a club side and the German national team after Per Mertesacker.

- This will be the 13th meeting between England and Germany at Wembley. England won four of the first five such games (L1), including the 1966 World Cup final, but are winless in their previous seven against the Germans at the national stadium (D2 L5).

- This will be England's 300th international match at Wembley, with this the 77th match they will have played at the new site since it reopened in 2007. The Three Lions have won 187 times at this venue (D73 L39).

- Germany have reached at least the semi-final in each of the last three editions of the European Championship. Indeed, since the tournament was expanded in 1996, the Germans have reached at least the last four of the competition each time they have progressed to the knockout stages.

- Germany have conceded at least once in each of their previous eight matches at major tournaments (Euros and World Cup), since a 3-0 win against Slovakia at this stage of Euro 2016. Only once have had they had a longer run without a major tournament clean sheet, which was in their first nine World Cup matches between 1934 and 1954.

England have not so far entertained the neutral at Euro 2020, but heavyweight clashes with Germany rarely disappoint.

The old rivals on Tuesday meet at a major tournament for the first time since the 2010 World Cup, where chaos reigned in another last-16 bout.

A stodgy England approach – not out of keeping with this year's group stage, a Rob Green error aside – gave way as the knockout phase began. The teams shared 35 shots – the only Three Lions tournament game to feature at least 17 for each side since 1998 – and England's 1.13 expected goals (xG) surpassed each of their prior three matches in South Africa.

Germany won 4-1.

 

Control is the name of the game now, though – at least for Gareth Southgate's England.

As Germany traded blows with the big boys in Group F, conceding first in each of their fixtures and extending their run without a clean sheet at a major tournament to eight matches, England kept their guard up.

The Three Lions have 15 clean sheets in 19 games, including three in three at the finals – as many as in 14 matches at the past three major tournaments combined and already more than their two at Euro 96.

At the same time, England netted just twice in Group D, becoming the lowest-scoring pool winners in Euros history.

These statistics do not suggest an exciting, attacking outlook, even if the squad list does. But criticism of Southgate will soon fade if the result goes his way at Wembley this week.

Express yourself

Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka – England's eight attacking options – registered a combined 147 goal involvements in the league in 2020-21.

It is easy to see why fans want these players to be let off the leash. Premier League Golden Boot winner Kane has had five shots, one on target and 11 touches in the opposition box in 246 minutes.

But England's rapid starts to matches have been too easily forgotten.

In each of their group games, the Three Lions hit the post inside 11 minutes. Raheem Sterling's lob against the Czech Republic was touched onto the post when it could have become England's earliest Euros goal at one minute and 47 seconds. That honour still belongs to Alan Shearer (2:14) – against Germany in 1996.

Southgate's side had at least 60 per cent of the possession in the opening quarter of an hour of all three matches. Nine of their 22 attempts came in this period.

The issue has been capitalising on this dominance, with Sterling's header against the Czech Republic the only time England have netted before the 15-minute mark.

Southgate has been level-headed in his assessment of performances so far but acknowledged his team have "run out of steam a little bit in a couple of games".

Unable to either race into a big early lead or maintain this initial frantic pace, England have settled for slowing the play instead, ensuring to avoid the sort of setbacks that saw Shearer's goal cancelled out by Stefan Kuntz on 15 minutes in 1996.

They have been successful in this regard of late, their past four wins – over the course of five matches – coming by 1-0 scorelines. Only in 1990 have England previously had five 1-0 wins in a calendar year.

Don't give it away

In the second half against the Czech Republic, with protecting a narrow lead their only apparent aim, England did not attempt a single shot.

Yet this performance stood completely at odds with the previous most recent example of the Three Lions failing to muster an effort after half-time. Against Spain in the Nations League in 2018, Southgate saw a three-goal lead at the interval almost wiped out.

 

 

England look to be able to manage games now. Even after the goalless draw with Scotland, Southgate spoke of the need to "manage the tournament as well as the game".

They have been versatile in that sense.

In the win over Croatia, England ceded 60 per cent of the possession after the restart and 81.6 per cent in the final 15 minutes, yet their opponents' six second-half chances were worth a meagre 0.3 xG combined.

That figure stood at just 0.07 xG as the Czech Republic attempted in vain to rescue a result in an uneventful second period in which England preferred to keep the ball a little more (53 per cent of the possession).

England have given up opportunities worth 0.77 xG across their three second halves. In the group stage, Spain (0.93) were the only other team below 1.0 in this sense.

Besides against Croatia, when Sterling struck on 57 minutes, England have benefited from not needing to chase a result, with their own second-half xG of 1.57 the seventh-lowest.

"We look difficult to play against," was Southgate's summary, one he will hope holds true against Germany, whose average possession percentage (64.7) far outweighs Croatia's (55.5).

With or without the ball, though, England have managed to dictate the pace of the play – and it is slow.

While averaging 4.5 passes per sequence in the first round – the seventh-highest – Southgate's side ranked last for both direct speed (0.98 metres progressed upfield per second) and directness (17 per cent of distance covered per sequence was upfield).

Crucially, the opposition were slowed, too. Only against Spain (0.87) did teams progress fewer metres upfield per second than against England (1.1), whose opponents moved upfield with a tournament-low 19 per cent of their distance covered per sequence. Croatia and the Czech Republic each fell below their averages in both metrics when facing England.

"I felt like we've been in control in the games," said captain Harry Kane, adding: "I feel like we're in a controlled place going into the big match on Tuesday."

But the worry will be whether England remain capable of responding, picking up the pace should their plodding plan fail and they fall behind.

In the 20 games that followed the 2018 World Cup, England conceded first four times and won on each occasion.

However, since then, in 12 outings, they have lost both such matches without scoring (1-0 v Denmark, 2-0 v Belgium). In Russia, Southgate's side were beaten in all three games in which they trailed at any stage.

After the Scotland stalemate, Southgate said of his reluctance to throw on additional offensive players: "If we had to chase to win, with no consequences for conceding, then you might approach it differently."

So, perhaps it might take England to concede first for fans to see the all-out attacking approach they crave. 

If that happens, though, the form book suggests the Three Lions may well end up bidding their tournament hopes arrivederci.

Germany playmaker Thomas Muller hopes striker Harry Kane's England goal drought goes on a little while longer.

England renew their rivalry with Germany next Tuesday in a mouth-watering Euro 2020 last-16 tie at Wembley with misfiring Kane set to lead the line for the Three Lions.

Kane started all three of England's Group D matches, but has just a solitary shot on target to show for his efforts.

The 27-year-old came into the tournament on the back of formidable season in the Premier League with Tottenham as he topped the goals (23) and assist (14) charts but has struggled so far.

He has managed five shots in total, three of which were deemed as 'big chances' by Opta. No other England player missed more than one across those three games.

"Great strikers are the best at being patient," Muller told a news conference.

"A striker is always waiting for his chances. He usually has the least contact with the ball, but the biggest picture in the newspaper after the game. 

"I don't know why he hasn't got into the final positions that he normally comes in. For us it wouldn't be a problem at all if the discussion lasts until Wednesday and we don't concede a goal.

"We're in the round of 16. We won against England World Cup 2010. That has nothing to do with Tuesday, but it might make one or the other feel good. We're looking forward to the big game with England."

Muller claimed he will be fit to face England having struggled with a knee injury during the tournament.

He added: "If I had problems I would not have trained today. The injury does not hinder me. I am experienced enough to deal with it. I am convinced that it will not be a problem for Tuesday."

Meanwhile, Serge Gnabry has backed Leroy Sane to silence the fans who have jeered his performances for Germany at Euro 2020.

Sane has no goals, assists and just one attempt on goal so far in the tournament.

"With the talent and skill level that Leroy has, he will always prevail," Gnabry said.

"It hasn't been so smooth yet. But if he gets his chance, he has to take it. I don't notice anything in the game. He gave Hungary the run-around, worked defensively. He can build on that. 

"We never need whistles. I can't understand why people whistle."

England midfielder Declan Rice is "relishing" the opportunity to face Germany duo Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller in a mouth-watering Euro 2020 last-16 clash on Tuesday. 

Gareth Southgate's side came top of their group, taking seven points from games against Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic without conceding a goal, ensuring they will begin the knockout rounds at Wembley Stadium.

There, they will face Germany for the third time at a European Championship and the first in a knockout match since the Three Lions lost on penalties in the semi-finals of Euro 96.

West Ham midfielder Rice has started all three of England’s games so far and is likely to be in from the start against two players who he has expressed admiration for in the past. 

After Bayern Munich's 2020 Champions League final triumph over Paris Saint-Germain last year, Rice tweeted: "Muller has to be up there as one of the most underrated players of all time! Serious footballer."

He followed this up in April with a tweet about Kroos after Real Madrid's 3-1 Champions League victory over Liverpool, saying: "Watching Toni Kroos is very special." Los Blancos midfielder Kroos replied: "Thanks mate."

Kroos has been exemplary for the 2014 world champions so far in this tournament. No player has completed more passes at the finals than the 31-year-old (280), with 217 of those occurring in the opposition half – by far the best return at the tournament.

Speaking at a media conference on Friday, Rice described Kroos as "world class" and said he cannot wait to go toe-to-toe with him.

 

"I can't remember what my tweet actually was but I woke up to him saying 'thanks mate'," he told a media conference. "It was a good moment to be fair and the lads at West Ham were giving me a bit [of stick] for it.

"If you go back to the tweets, I have always said I am a fan.

"When there are big games on and you are watching, you appreciate top footballers. Obviously that night I felt the need to say [what I did] about Muller and Kroos.

"I am relishing to go out there and put myself up against the best. It is England v Germany, round of 16, at Wembley, it is going to be proper, so I need to go out there and give a solid performance myself and as a team.

"Kroos is world class, other midfielders like me want to test ourselves. But we need to impose ourselves on the game and be physical and stop him spraying it around the pitch."

Tuesday's game will be the third meeting between England and Germany at the European Championship. Germany won 6-5 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in the 1996 semi-final, before England won 1-0 in the group stages at Euro 2000.

England will be hoping to improve on a poor record in the knockout games in this competition, having never won one in 90 minutes (D4 L2). Four games have gone to penalties, with England only progressing once via this method, against Spain at Wembley in 1996.

Jordan Henderson thinks England's hopes of beating Germany in the Euro 2020 last 16 could rest on keeping the ball away from Toni Kroos as much as possible.

Gareth Southgate's side came top of their group, taking seven points from games against Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic without conceding a goal, ensuring they will begin the knockout rounds at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday.

There, they will face Germany for the third time at a European Championship and the first in a knockout match since the Three Lions lost on penalties in the semi-finals of Euro 96.

Joachim Low's side scraped through a challenging Group F, Leon Goretzka's late equaliser against Hungary on matchday three ensuring they finished behind France and above Portugal thanks to their superior head-to-head record.

While England's route through the groups was somewhat sedate, with two 1-0 wins and a goalless draw with Scotland, Germany won a six-goal thriller with Portugal before battling to a 2-2 draw with Hungary after falling 1-0 to France.

Amid their inconsistencies, midfielder Kroos has been exemplary for the 2014 world champions. No player has completed more passes at these finals than the Real Madrid man (280), with 217 of those occurring in the opposition half – by far the best return at the tournament.

 

Given Germany have averaged 64.7 per cent of the possession in their games, a figure lower only than Spain (76.1), Henderson is eager to disrupt Kroos' rhythm as much as possible by retaining the ball and getting it into England's forwards.

"They're a top team. You go through every position on the pitch and they've got world-class players everywhere, so it's always going to be a tough game," he said on Thursday.

"With the ball, it's extremely important to keep it, especially against Germany, who are a fantastic team who've got very good technical players who can dominate games with the ball. We need to be defensively solid, like we have been, because they've got players like Kroos that can hurt you.

"He's a world-class player who can really hurt you with time and space, so we need to make sure that, without the ball, we're really solid.

"When we get it, we need to be calm and composed, but also positive with the play, getting the ball forward and trying to create as many chances as we can because we've got some fantastic forward players who can hurt any opposition. If we can get the ball into them and let them do their thing, I think we can be in for a real good night."

Penalties dominate much of the pre-match talk, not least because Germany beat England on home soil on spot-kicks 25 years ago, with current boss Gareth Southgate missing the crucial attempt.

Henderson was in the headlines during the warm-up for this tournament, the Liverpool man taking the ball from Dominic Calvert-Lewin before seeing his penalty saved during the 1-0 friendly win over Romania in Middlesbrough.

"It was blown out of proportion, to be honest, after the game," Henderson said. "Nothing to be said internally. I was obviously disappointed to miss but I was more disappointed for Dom as well because he could have had another goal for England."

Jordan Henderson called for England to ensure they have "no regrets" when the final whistle blows on their Euro 2020 last-16 clash with Germany.

The Three Lions' reward for winning their group is a knockout game against their old rivals at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday with a place in the quarter-finals at stake.

Unsurprisingly, the draw has prompted fans to reminisce about past meetings between the sides, including the 1966 World Cup final and the last 16 of the same tournament in 2010.

But while Henderson acknowledged the "special" nature of the fixture, he wants England to do more than just relish the occasion.

He said: "It's a special game for the players, for fans, for everyone, for the neutrals watching. It's a big game and that's what you want to be playing in these tournaments, so it’s very exciting. 

"Everybody will be looking forward to it and, for the players, we have to stay focused and make sure we give everything on the pitch and have no regrets.

"It's exciting, it's a huge game and one that we’ll be looking forward to. We knew whatever team we faced it was going to be a big challenge and Germany will certainly be that, so we need to prepare well, be ready for next week and give everything.

"They are still a very good side. Look at the players they've got, quality all over the pitch. It's going to be a very tough test.

"In games like this, it's not necessarily about form, it's about whoever is better on the night; whoeever puts the better performance in is going to have more chance of winning and we need to make sure we're 100 per cent ready, and I’m sure we will be."

 

The sides' previous meeting in the knockout stages of a European Championship came when the tournament was hosted by England in 1996.

On that occasion, Germany progressed to the final courtesy of a penalty shootout that featured a miss from now Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate.

Henderson insisted that tournament disappointment has not been discussed by the current squad but revealed that penalty practice is taking place in preparation for a shootout.

He added: "No, we haven't spoken about it and I’m not sure we will, either. A lot of talk will be on penalties but, for us, being in a penalty shootout not so long ago and we practice penalties all the time, it's just part and parcel of football in tournaments.

"We try to do it seriously because you want to practice properly, the whole process. It’s important you do it properly and you are clear in your mind if you do need to take a penalty.

"Overcoming a penalty shoot-out in the World Cup was a big thing mentally for everyone, so I do think we’ve improved with that over the last few years. 

"That's going to be a big thing on Tuesday. In football or in any sport, mental strength is a huge part of it. I feel we've got a lot of players in the squad who are very mentally strong and that's going to be important."

Joachim Low said Germany will "perform differently" when they face England in the Euro 2020 knockout stage, after an error-strewn performance against Hungary.

Leon Goretzka scored a late equaliser to salvage a 2-2 draw at Allianz Arena, where Hungary twice took the lead in Munich on Wednesday.

But Low was pleased with the way Germany, who reached the semi-finals of the last two European Championships, fought back to claim a draw that secured second place in Group F, behind France.

"We had an extremely good attitude; we made mistakes, but we fought," Germany head coach Low told reporters.

"It wasn't a game for the faint of heart. We knew that Hungary would give everything and that it would be as close as it was.

"To get through this group in the end, that was good and that was the goal. France also only drew 1-1 against Hungary, the so-called little ones gave everything. It wasn't easy, they had nothing to lose.

"But in the end what counts is that we are through."

Jamal Musiala, who at 18 years and 117 days became the youngest ever player to make an appearance for Germany at a major tournament when he replaced Robin Gosens, earned praise from Low.

"Musiala was cheeky," Low of the Bayern Munich teenager. "He secured the ball, and gave a very good performance."

Looking ahead to Tuesday's last-16 clash with England, who Germany defeated on penalties at the old Wembley Stadium in the semi-finals of Euro '96, Low said: "This is an absolute highlight when you can play against England at Wembley.

"We will be well prepared and we will perform differently, I can promise.

"It's great that we got through in this tough group."

The final round of group games at Euro 2020 did not disappoint, producing plenty of drama as the final spots in the last 16 were settled.

There were 18 goals scored across the four fixtures – the most on a single day in the history of the European Championships – with Spain putting five past Slovakia to get out of Group E alongside Sweden, who came out on top against Poland thanks to a late, late winner.

In Group F, Hungary threatened an upset but were twice pegged back by Germany in a 2-2 draw, while Portugal and France ended in the same scoreline thanks to record-breaker Cristiano Ronaldo.

Before the focus switches to the knockout stages, Stats Perform reflects on a dramatic conclusion to the round-robin stage.


Slovakia 0-5 Spain: Landmark win comes with a little help

Spain equalled the largest margin of victory in a game at the European Championship, becoming the fifth different side to win by five goals in the competition. The others? France and Denmark in 1984, the Netherlands in 2000 and Sweden in 2004).

It was also a milestone win, Spain's 50th at a major tournament. They are the fourth European nation to reach a half-century, joining Germany, Italy and France.

They were helped out by a Slovakia side that scored not one but two own goals, Martin Dubravka and Juraj Kucka the unfortunate duo to take the tally to eight in this year's tournament. The result means head coach Stefan Tarkovic has suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time since taking charge, with this his 12th game at the helm.

Ferran Torres grabbed the fourth goal of the contest with what was his first touch of the game. He scored just 44 seconds after coming on as a substitute – the quickest goal scored by a replacement at a European Championship since fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Valeron in 2004 (39 seconds versus Russia).

Sweden 3-2 Poland: Lewandowski at the double in defeat

Sweden continued their excellent form against Poland – they have won 10 of the past 12 meetings, including six in a row now – thanks in part to a fast start.

Emil Forsberg broke the deadlock after just 81 seconds, the second quickest goal scored from the start of a European Championship fixture. Dmitri Kirichenko holds the record for the fastest, doing so in a mere 65 seconds for Russia against Greece in 2004.

Poland rallied from 2-0 down to draw level thanks to Robert Lewandowski, who made sure he was on target in consecutive major tournament appearances for the first time in his career. He now has 69 goals for his country – the rest of his nation's squad at Euro 2020 have managed a combined total of 34.

However, the Bayern Munich forward will not be able to add to his tally at Euro 2020, with Poland exiting as their winless run was extended to six games. Viktor Claesson grabbed the winner in added time, meaning Sweden scored three in a game at the Euros for the first time since beating Bulgaria 5-0 in 2004.

 

Portugal 2-2 France: Benzema back on target as Ronaldo hits the spot

There were four goals, three penalties, two different scorers and one record broken in an eventful draw in Budapest.

Ronaldo converted both as Portugal became the first team to score two spot-kicks in a single European Championship fixture. The Juventus superstar's double makes him the first player to score as many as five goals in the group stages of a single Euros since Michel Platini (seven in 1984), who is the only individual to have managed more in a single group round.

Talisman Ronaldo also became the first European player in World Cup and European Championship history to score a combined 20 or more goals across the competitions. His tally sits at 21, while he has 109 in his Portugal career, putting him level with Ali Daei as the leading international men's scorer.

His former Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema also grabbed a brace. His first of the game saw him score for France for the first time since October 8, 2015, five years and 258 days ago. It is the longest gap between goals for Les Bleus since current boss Didier Deschamps went seven years between finding the net.

France are now unbeaten in each of their last 12 group-stage outings at major tournaments, with their reward for topping the table being a last-16 clash with Switzerland.

Germany 2-2 Hungary: Goretzka earns Low a little more time

On a night with more ups and downs than a rollercoaster ride, Germany needed a late equaliser to make sure they progressed from the group stage for a seventh time in eight major international tournaments.

Joachim Low's reign appeared set for an unexpectedly early end when they trailed both 1-0 and 2-1 in Munich, with Adam Szalai's opener seeing Germany become one of only four sides to concede first in all three of their group outings, after Turkey, North Macedonia and Poland.

Kai Havertz equalised, in the process becoming the fourth-youngest player to score in back-to-back major tournament appearances for Germany, after Thomas Muller (2010), Franz Beckenbauer (1966) and Lukas Podolski (2006).

There was a first opportunity at Euro 2020 for teenager Jamal Musiala, who became the youngest player to make an appearance for the German national team at a major tournament, aged 18 years and 117 days.

Germany scraped through to the knockout stages of Euro 2020 and set up a last-16 showdown against England after Leon Goretzka's late equaliser earned them a 2-2 draw with Hungary.

Adam Szalai of Mainz, who has spent most of his career in the Bundesliga, gave Hungary the lead in Munich after 11 minutes to leave Germany facing an early exit.

There was a brief reprieve when Kai Havertz scored a 66th-minute header, but just 91 seconds later Joachim Low's men were caught napping and Andras Schafer took full advantage in restoring Hungary's lead.

Goretzka rescued Germany from their first exit at this stage of the competition since 2004, and sent Hungary crashing out in the process.

UEFA says it is "proud to wear the colours of the rainbow" amid controversy over the decision to reject Germany's request to light up the Allianz Arena for Wednesday's Euro 2020 clash with Hungary.

Mayor of Munich Dieter Reiter asked the European football governing body for permission to illuminate the stadium in rainbow colours in support of the LGBTQ+ community.

He made the request after Hungary last week passed a law that prohibits the sharing of content in schools that could be deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change.

However, UEFA proposed alternative dates for the ground to be lit up as the gesture was deemed to be of a political nature.

"Given the political context of this specific request – a message aiming at a decision taken by the Hungarian national parliament – UEFA must decline this request," a statement read on Tuesday.

Bayern Munich president Herbert Hainer expressed regret at the decision from the European governing body, while Reiter labelled it "shameful" and criticised the German Football Federation for failing to support the request.

But UEFA issued another statement on Wednesday to defend itself amid the widespread criticism, stressing its own commitment to fighting against any form of discrimination.

"Today, UEFA is proud to wear the colours of the rainbow," the statement read.

"It is a symbol that embodies our core values, promoting everything that we believe in – a more just and egalitarian society, tolerant of everyone, regardless of their background, belief or gender.

"Some people have interpreted UEFA's decision to turn down the city of Munich's request to illuminate the Munich stadium in rainbow colours for a EURO 2020 match as 'political'. 

"On the contrary, the request itself was political, linked to the Hungarian football team's presence in the stadium for this evening's match with Germany.

"For UEFA, the rainbow is not a political symbol, but a sign of our firm commitment to a more diverse and inclusive society."

UEFA last week opened an investigation into Manuel Neuer wearing a rainbow-coloured captain's armband in his side's opening two Euro 2020 games.

But the probe was halted after the governing body deemed it "a good cause".

Germany have never exited consecutive major tournaments at the group stage but need at least a draw against Hungary to be sure of avoiding that fate.

Joachim Low's side suffered an awful early elimination at the 2018 World Cup and were facing further pain after losing their Euro 2020 opener against France.

The 2014 world champions recovered with a stunning 4-2 win over holders Portugal, though, and could yet top the group with a win, setting up a meeting with a third-placed finisher.

But Germany face a highly motivated Hungary side, who will themselves make the last 16 with a win after drawing at home to France.

 

The only previous occasion on which the teams met in the group stage saw Germany fall to a record defeat, 8-3 at World Cup 1954. They did recover to beat Hungary in the final, however.

And the Magyars have not won their final group match since the 1966 World Cup.

Marco Rossi acknowledges the odds are stacked against his side, describing simply qualifying for the tournament as a "major achievement" on the eve of the match.

"We play against three teams that may get to the semi-finals and play in London," he said.

"Our group has been called a 'Group of Death' and evidently the one to fall there is Hungary. In theory, it's hard to disagree with someone making such a prediction."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Germany – Kai Havertz

Chelsea team-mate Timo Werner has so far been kept on the fringes, but Havertz became Germany's youngest ever European Championship scorer at 22 years and eight days old against Portugal. Only three younger players – Thomas Muller (20 in 2010), Franz Beckenbauer (20 in 1966) and Lukas Podolski (21 in 2006) – have scored in consecutive tournament games for Germany, as Havertz could.

Hungary – Roland Sallai

Hungary have only scored once so far at this tournament, but Sallai assisted Attila Fiola's strike against France and is suddenly a man in form for his country. Sallai has also scored twice in his past four international appearances, his three goal involvements as many as in his first 20 games for Hungary.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Germany and Hungary's only previous meeting in Munich was 110 years ago, in a friendly played in December 1911 at the city's MTV-Platz stadium. Hungary won 4-1.

– Under Joachim Low, Germany have beaten Hungary both times they have met – both friendlies, by an aggregate scoreline of 5-0 (3-0 in Budapest in 2010, 2-0 in Gelsenkirchen in 2016).

– Hungary are without a win in each of their past five matches at the European Championship (D3 L2) since a 2-0 victory against Austria in 2016. Indeed, that 2-0 win versus Austria is their only clean sheet in their 10 matches in the competition.

– Against Portugal last time out, Germany's four goals took them to 302 scored overall in major tournaments (World Cup and Euros); indeed, no other European nation have yet reached 200 such goals (France 184 next highest).

– Fiola has scored two goals in his past four appearances for Hungary, after failing to score in his first 33 games for his country. Indeed, Fiola (31y, 122d) is the second-oldest player to score for Hungary at the European Championship after Zoltan Gera (37y 61d) against Portugal at Euro 2016.

UEFA has rejected a request for Germany to light up the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours for Wednesday's Euro 2020 clash with Hungary because of political reasons.

Mayor of Munich Dieter Reiter said on Sunday that he has asked UEFA for permission to illuminate the stadium in support of the LGBTQ+ community.

Reiter made the request after Hungary passed a law that prohibits the sharing of content in schools that could be deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change.

However, while UEFA understands the gesture, European football's governing body has proposed alternative dates for the stadium to be lit up, rather than on the day of the Hungary game.

"Racism, homophobia, sexism, and all forms of discrimination are a stain on our societies – and represent one of the biggest problems faced by the game today," read a UEFA statement on Tuesday.

"Discriminatory behaviour has marred both matches themselves and, outside the stadiums, the online discourse around the sport we love.

"However UEFA, through its statutes, is a politically and religiously neutral organisation. Given the political context of this specific request – a message aiming at a decision taken by the Hungarian national parliament – UEFA must decline this request.

"UEFA has nevertheless proposed to the city of Munich to illuminate the stadium with the rainbow colours on either 28 June – the Christopher Street Liberation Day – or between 3 and 9 July which is the Christopher Street Day week in Munich."

Christopher Street Day is an annual European LGBTQ+ celebration and demonstration held in various cities across Europe for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

UEFA last week opened an investigation into Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer wearing a rainbow-coloured captain's armband in his side's opening two Euro 2020 fixtures against France and Portugal.

But amid widespread criticism, the probe was halted after the governing body deemed it "a good cause".

UEFA has abandoned an investigation into Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's rainbow-coloured captain's armband.

Bayern Munich stalwart Neuer wore the armband in Germany's first two games of Euro 2020 – a 1-0 defeat to France and 4-2 win over Portugal.

The rainbow flag is a symbol of the LGBTQ community, for which Neuer was showing support as countries across the world celebrate 'Pride Month'. 

But reports emerging on Sunday suggested he could face censure from UEFA for his choice of armband.

European football's governing body had apparently deemed the rainbow flag a political statement, which are prohibited in UEFA competitions.

DFB press officer Jens Grittner confirmed proceedings had been opened, saying: "It is true that the captain's armband is being checked. We will also discuss this with UEFA.

"The regulations state that the armband officially provided by UEFA must be worn. June is also a year of 'Pride' in sport to stand up for more diversity.

"This year the DFB is participating with various campaigns. Manuel Neuer has been wearing the rainbow armband since the friendly against Latvia on June 7 as a symbol and clear commitment of the entire team to diversity, openness and tolerance and against hatred and exclusion. 

"The message is: we are colourful! "

However, the German Football Association (DFB) later confirmed that UEFA had already halted the investigation.

A statement read: "UEFA have today shared with the DFB that they have stopped the review of the rainbow captain's armband worn by [Manuel Neuer]. 

"In a letter, the armband has been assessed as a team symbol for diversity and thus for a 'good cause.'"

UEFA has already faced criticism for disregarding the LGBTQ community with its choice of Euro 2020 host cities.

The Hungarian capital, Budapest, has held a number of group-stage fixtures already and is reportedly in the running to take the semi-finals and final from Wembley due to coronavirus concerns.

Hungary's parliament recently passed legislation banning content it believes promotes homosexuality or gender change from its schools – a move which has prompted fierce criticism from the international community.

A host of European football's heavyweights were in action on another day of high drama at Euro 2020 on Saturday.

The stand-out result was Germany's thumping 4-2 win over holders Portugal at the Allianz Arena in Munich, which featured yet another landmark strike from Cristiano Ronaldo. 

In the same group, tournament favourites France were held to a surprise draw by Hungary, while, in Group E, Spain's stuttering start continued with a 1-1 draw against Poland.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform takes a look at some of the best facts from across the day's action.

Portugal 2-4 Germany: Holders give Die Mannschaft a helping hand

Portugal made some unwanted history as they slipped to a resounding defeat against Germany at the Allianz Arena.

It had started so well for Fernando Santos' men, Ronaldo putting the holders ahead early on with a strike that took him level with Miroslav Klose as the European player to have scored the most combined goals (19) across the World Cup and European Championship. 

However, Portugal became the first European nation ever to concede two own goals – through Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro – in a single match at a major tournament to give Germany a half-time lead. 

Kai Havertz added a third to become Germany's youngest goalscorer in a European Championship game, aged 22 years and eight days, before Robin Gosens got in on the act. 

That meant Portugal, who pulled one back through Diogo Jota, became the first reigning champions in European Championship history to concede four goals in a single match in the competition.

Hungary 1-1 France: Fiola finds a way through stubborn defence

Few gave Hungary a chance of getting anything from their clash with the world champions, but Marco Rossi's side claimed a memorable point.

Attila Fiola opened the scoring shortly before half-time, ending a run of 527 minutes of play for France without shipping a goal.

Fiola has now scored two goals in his last four appearances for Hungary after failing to find the back of the net in his first 33 games for his country. 

Aged 31 years and 122 days, right-back Fiola is the oldest player to score against France in a European Championship match since Rui Jordao scored a brace against them for Portugal in 1984 (31y 319d).

However, France stretched their unbeaten run at major tournaments to nine matches when Antoine Griezmann levelled midway through the second half. 

The Barcelona forward has now scored 11 goals at major international tournaments, with only Michel Platini (14), Just Fontaine (13) and Thierry Henry (12) having scored more. 

France could have sealed victory had Kylian Mbappe shown more accuracy in front of goal. The Paris Saint-Germain forward attempted six shots – the most he has ever had in a single match for his country. 

Spain 1-1 Poland: La Roja's sluggish start continues

This draw meant Spain have failed to win either of their first two games in a European Championship tournament for the first time since 1996. 

It had started so well for them, however, with Alvaro Morata firing home from close range in the 25th minute. The on-loan Juventus striker has scored four of Spain's last five goals at European Championship finals – only Fernando Torres (five) has ever scored more goals in the competition for the nation.

Poland pulled level shortly after half-time, though, Robert Lewandowski becoming only the third player to score in three major tournaments for Poland, after Grzegorz Lato and Andrzej Szarmach.

Spain did have the opportunity to claim all three points, but Gerard Moreno struck the post from the penalty spot, meaning they have failed to score five of their last eight penalties (excluding shootouts) at the tournament.

There was also a landmark moment for Poland's Kacper Kozlowski (17 years and 246 days), who became the youngest ever player to make an appearance at the European Championship, overtaking Jude Bellingham's record (17y 349d) set for England six days ago.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.