Steffen Freund: England are a force to be reckoned with at Wembley
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
In his latest column on UEFA EURO 2020, Steffen Freund talks Wembley and why another penalty shoot-out could be looming between England and Germany.
Article top media content
Ahead of the final group game, I was feeling pretty confident that a lot would have to happen for Germany to be knocked out by Hungary – and it wasn't far from becoming a reality! You can always go 1-0 down in football, but I hadn't anticipated Germany conceding again immediately after making it 1-1 to give us a nail-biting finish.
We certainly didn't look at our best against Hungary, but I still saw a number of positives. Joachim Löw made a lot right calls when Germany had to take risks to get the goal they needed, particularly making the switch to a back four and freeing up Joshua Kimmich to play in the centre of the park.
So, now Wembley awaits – a stadium every footballer wants to have played at once in their career. I got to have that experience in the 1996 semi-finals. I had goosebumps for 120 minutes straight. It was incredibly emotional and special, although it carries some painful memories too as I tore my cruciate ligament shortly before the end of the match.
The new stadium of course cannot be compared with the old one, but Wembley is quite simply Wembley. Even if it won't be completely full, the atmosphere will still give the players a boost. England are a force to be reckoned with at Wembley too – it's something very special to play against them there.
While it's true that England have struggled to beat Germany at home over the years, the fact still remains that they're the side with home advantage and will be roared on by the Three Lions' fans. They also haven't conceded a goal yet and so there is an air of real stability about them.
They appear to be gelling well in defence and have a good balance too. It's incredibly difficult to create goalscoring opportunities against them, but there is a lot of room for improvement going forward. Harry Kane, in particular, is yet to produce his best, although there were some promising signs from him against the Czech Republic. Germany will have to keep a close eye on him, as he could burst into life at any given moment.
The good news for Germany is that Thomas Müller has recovered from his knee problem. He is extremely important for the team; he just adds that little bit of stability and leadership, because he is the one barking instructions in those critical phases. Müller alone doesn't solve all of Germany's problems, but we need him as part of that spine, together with Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Joshua Kimmich, which is vital for Germany!
Both teams are attack minded, so I am anticipating a good game and a real footballing spectacle. I'm convinced that Germany will make it to the quarter-finals, but I just have this gut feeling that it could come down to a penalty shoot-out once again…
If you look at the bracket too, the winner of this duel has every chance of making it all the way to the final, as the big favourites France, Italy and Belgium are all on the other side of the draw.