We play for 90 minutes and then the Germans win – or, at least, that’s been the status quo for many years now.
But last night, a new era was introduced as England beat Germany 2-0 at Wembley to book their place in the quarter-finals of UEFA Euro 2020. It wasn’t exactly a classic and there have certainly been better games in the Round of 16 this week, but when the result is that spectacular, it really isn’t going to mean much if it was a little bit dull at times.
Germany actually seemed to be the side coming forward and really getting after it in the early exchanges which was as unexpected as it was disappointing for Three Lions supporters. Still, holding your nerve in this game is what it’s all about, and Gareth Southgate’s men appear to have mastered the art of not conceding goals in this tournament.
We say “art” in quite a loose way but we all know it to be a subjective thing and last night, this England team kept the train rolling – even after a few scares that included a rare 1v1 miss from Thomas Muller.
Before that we’d seen Luke Shaw put the ball on a plate for Raheem Sterling who, for the third game running, managed to stick it in the back of the net. This was shortly followed by Jack Grealish setting up Harry Kane, vindicating two men who had been in the spotlight for very different reasons.
There were a few nervy moments here and there but it ultimately wasn’t anything they couldn’t deal with, as Germany really struggled to rediscover the mojo that got them into the knockouts in the first place.
The final whistle eventually blew and the thousands in attendance at Wembley were, understandably, utterly relieved and ecstatic about what they’d just seen.
It’s not like Gareth Southgate hasn’t been able to pick up big wins in the past, as we saw back at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but this one was really special.
Alas, we can’t dwell on the past for too long, because we also saw confirmation of England’s quarter-final opponents as Ukraine beat Sweden courtesy of a dramatic extra time winner in Glasgow.
England will understandably be pinpointed as the favourites to win that game and now, they’re probably the leading contenders to win it all alongside the winner of the Belgium vs Italy game.
Eight nations remain after 24 began this journey and it really does seem as if England are positioned really nicely to go far. It’s easy to say that from the outside looking in, as we all know, but if they beat Ukraine, the semi-final and final will take place at Wembley – which, as we can clearly see, is where they’re feeling pretty comfortable right now.
We’re chuffed to see the impact this tournament is having on all eight countries who have made it to this point and, understandably, none of us wants it to end.
Enjoy the ride, folks, because we’re only just getting started.