Somehow, the pressure has ratcheted up even more on England's men's soccer team.
England beat Germany 2-0 on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals of Euro 2020. With a draw that features Ukraine, Denmark and the Czech Republic, England will be heavy favorites in each of its next two potential games on the way to the final on July 10 at London's Wembley Stadium.
A Euro 2020 title would give England its first men's major tournament trophy since winning the 1966 World Cup. That was also the last year that England had beaten Germany in the knockout stage of a major tournament.
The winning goal came courtesy of Raheem Sterling in the 75th minute. Sterling has scored three of England's four goals in Euro 2020. He was set up by a Jack Grealish pass out to Luke Shaw, who rifled a low cross into the box that found an unmarked Sterling running toward the goal.
ENGLAND GOES WILD 🏴🦁 pic.twitter.com/0GOz8ZRPC4
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 29, 2021
The creativity that came on that play was sparked by Grealish's appearance as a substitute. He came on for Bukayo Saka, after Saka started on the wing as part of a front three with Sterling and Harry Kane. England manager Gareth Southgate went conservative for the start of the game as he played three center backs for the first time all tournament and went with two wingbacks in Luke Shaw and Kieran Trippier.
England got a second goal when Harry Kane scored his first of the tournament. That came after Germany was forced to press for a goal to send the game into extra time.
Kane's goal came minutes after Germany's Thomas Muller should have tied the game at 1-1. A bad backward pass by Sterling helped lead to a Muller break clear on goal, and he didn't even get the shot on frame.
The conservatism of Southgate to match Germany's attacking wingbacks with wingbacks of his own led to a dull game for the first half and the start of the second. For a while, it felt like both teams were going to be content with extra time at 0-0. But England found a moment of attack thrust and Sterling took the opportunity sharply, just like he has in England's other two wins.
England remains the only team who hasn't given up a goal in Euro 2020, but its four goals are also the fewest of any of the remaining teams in the tournament. That's a staggering stat for a team that has the most attacking depth of any country in the competition. Borussia Dortmund winger (and Manchester United target) Jadon Sancho hasn't even seen the field.
But the pragmatism appears to be working. Even if it does take a while. Maybe it's the key to England's first major trophy in over 50 years. England will play Ukraine on Saturday in the quarterfinals.
Joachim Low's last game with Germany
Tuesday’s game was the end of an era for German soccer. Longtime coach Joachim Low announced before the tournament that he would be stepping down at its conclusion.
Low has coached Germany since 2006 and was in charge for the team’s 2014 World Cup triumph. Germany also reached the semifinals of the 2012 and 2016 Euros under Low, and won the 2017 Confederations Cup in convincing fashion.
The 2020 Euros were a swan song for Low after the team’s flameout at the 2018 World Cup. Germany was eliminated in the group stage and it was an open question if Low would stick around.
He did, and he tried to overhaul the Germany squad ahead of the Euros. That didn’t really work, as Germany’s youth movement ended up needing the veterans that led it to previous World Cup success. After telling older players that he was looking to bring in new faces to the team, Low backtracked and called up players like Muller and Mats Hummels for the leadup to Euro 2020 after a 6-0 defeat to Spain in the UEFA Nations League in November.
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