In July 1966, I was a football mad 12-year-old. I remember the excitement around England and the expectation there was as we were hosting a World Cup on home soil. Jimmy Greaves was being touted as the man who would make a difference in much the same way people spoke of Harry Kane before Euro 2020 started, but it never worked out that way and ultimately Geoff Hurst stole the headlines albeit with the intervention of a Russian linesman called Tofiq Bahramov.
It was his call to signal that a shot from Hurst had crossed the line to put England in the driving seat and it is a decision that is still hotly disputed to this day. On Tuesday evening, England and Germany cross swords again in one of the last 16 matches of the Covid delayed Euros. We all must hope the game doesn’t go to penalties as we have been there before, and Chris Waddle and the current England manager Gareth Southgate are remembered only for penalty misses and elimination. I am sure that Southgate’s missed penalty kick will feature regularly in the match build-up.
I think many England fans feel the Germans hold a psychological edge over England but on that fateful July day in 1966 and before that Germany had never beaten England. Of course, they have more than made up for it since and the penalty shoot outs of 1990 and 1996 are certainly etched in my mind and millions of other England fans. Then there was the Frank Lampard goal that was a metre over the line in 2010 in South Africa but was not given by incompetent match officials.
There will be much debate over the team selection for Tuesday evening’s match. I would love to see England be more adventurous and go at the Germans, but I don’t think that will happen.
I think we will see Pickford in goal and a back four of Walker, Stones, Maguire and Trippier. I think Trippier will jump in front of Shaw because of his delivery on set pieces which may ultimately be the difference between the teams. I expect Rice and Phillips to be our two defensive midfield players and provide a shield in front of the back four which has meant we are yet to concede a goal in the competition. In midfield I think Sterling’s two goals so far dictate he will start on the left of the midfield three and as Saka was so impressive in the last match against the Czechs he will start on the right. Mount would normally provide the energy in the centre of midfield but the fact he has not been able to train with the team may mean he will miss out for that reason and that could see Jordan Henderson come into the team. Kane will start up front and I expect him to finally get on the score sheet and kickstart his competition. If we fail to win and Grealish and Foden do not start the papers won’t make good reading on Wednesday for Southgate.
After the frustration from 15 months of lockdown the nation needs a boost and I expect England to deliver one come Tuesday evening.
Peter Varney, Chairman – Integral Sports Management.