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Euro 2020: England finally look better than the Germans – SIX THINGS WE LEARNED

A history-making performance, years in the making, but finally England look significantly better than the Germans. And have beaten them. 

And though Gareth Southgate was criticised for matching up the Joachim Low’s wing backs and despite the fact that England took their time, they got there in the end while Germany had precious little to offer.

Here, Sportsmail looks at six things we learned from England’s 2-0 win over Germany…

England have finally beaten Germany and now look a better team than their rivals

The Three Lions took their time but their measured approach saw them get there in the end

The Three Lions took their time but their measured approach saw them get there in the end

GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT

When you’ve waited 55 years to beat the Germans in knock-out football, you might expect that a degree a patience would be necessary. 

At times in the second half, it looked as though England were resorting to turgid ways, frequently turned back inside and playing slowly across the back. 

For a period, the Germans enjoyed significant possession and were containing England comfortably. 

They even had the best early second-half chance through Kai Havertz. The danger was that, though England were the better side, their caution would invite extra time and penalties. But England were clear in what they wanted to do even if it only happened sparingly. 

England's slow build up saw Luke Shaw and Jack Grealish combine for both of their goals

England’s slow build up saw Luke Shaw and Jack Grealish combine for both of their goals

When they had the chance, a player would drive on a try to make two or three metres of space to invite others attack. It had worked better in the first half but slowly the opportunities came: first Sterling drove on, fed Kane who quickly moved the ball on to Jack Grealish with Luke Shaw driving on. 

This was the wing-back play they were looking for. Grealish fed Shaw, he delivered, Sterling scored. But it was preceded by precisely the kind of slow build up that can be so frustrating at times. 

Similar to the Croatia game, which was laborious at times but got the job done. It took 75 minutes but England’s best moments are worth waiting for.

THE JOY OF PRESSING

The second goal was similar in that the key breakthrough came from a quick drive from a player through German lines, Shaw this time rather than Sterling. 

Though England never pressed with intensity in short bursts, this was a goal straight from the Jurgen Klopp playbook of winning possession high up the pitch. Klopp firmly believes that the gegenpress is the best creator of goals in the world, better than Messi.

Shaw pounced on Robin Gosens in possession and drove on. Germany were on the back foot in those crucial couple of seconds which pulled them out of shape. It didn’t happen often, but England exploited the times it did. 

Harry Kane’s goal was straight out of the Jurgen Klopp playbook of pressing high up the pitch

Shaw might have played safe to protect the lead on 86 minutes but Grealish was imploring him not to and having received the ball, crossed for Kane to finish. 

It was painful at times getting there but if you work hard for your opportunities, then take them, there’s little to cricitise. 

Southgate’s selection might have been controversially cautious but it did work.

NEGATIVE FORMATION? IT DEPENDS HOW YOU LINE UP

Eight defensive players and three attacking was the initial underwhelmed reaction to Southgate’s team selection. But it does rather depend how you set up. 

Kieran Trippier was frequently on the right wing. Indeed, sometimes he was even at the old-fashioned inside right position, alongside Harry Kane, with Bukayo Saka outside them. It was a bold statement: we’ll see your wing backs and we’ll raise you. 

Gosens had Trippier, Walker AND Saka to cope with at times. Little wonder he couldn’t get into the game and certainly the supply line Germany had relied upon against Portugal was cut off. 

Gareth Southgate was accused of a negative formation but England's set-up thwarted Germany's attacking wing-backs

Gareth Southgate was accused of a negative formation but England’s set-up thwarted Germany’s attacking wing-backs

It wasn’t much better for Joshua Kimmich down the right. He at least got a first half cross in but he only had scraps with which to work. 

There was the Goosens cross which allowed Havertz to test Pickford on 48 minutes. 

Eventually, it was England’s wing back who prevailed. Goosens and Kimmich couldn’t really affect the game whereas Luke Shaw did.

Robin Gosens had Bukayo Saka, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker to deal with at times

Robin Gosens had Bukayo Saka, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker to deal with at times

Joshua Kimmich also struggled to get into the game while Shaw managed to have an impact

Joshua Kimmich also struggled to get into the game while Shaw managed to have an impact

MAN TO MAN: HARRY ON HAVERTZ

The danger of Kai Havertz is those little spaces between the defence and midfield into which he drifts. But Harry Maguire was assiduous, following him up the pitch whenever he wandered away to find space. 

The security of the back three meant Maguire could track him everywhere and prevented him from dictating play or creating chances. 

When Maguire did hold back, Shaw picked him up. Germany’s possession, significant though it was it the second half, consisted of a lot of Toni Kroos and Leon Goretzka exchanges. Neither side was risking much, with led to the proliferation of sideways and backwards football.

Harry Maguire could track Kai Havertz everywhere which nullified his threat going forward

Harry Maguire could track Kai Havertz everywhere which nullified his threat going forward

IS THAT ALL YOU’VE GOT?

The difference though was that eventually England did have some pace and creativity to pull Germany out of shape. 

Germany very rarely tested England, who remained in comfortable and, in the first half at least, in control. When Germany did have to take the game to England at 1-0, they were entirely reliant on those Kimmich/Gosens crosses – and Maguire in particular and John Stones could deal with those all day. And did. 

The crosses weren’t even especially dangerous but speculative, loopy crosses which are relatively easy to defend. There was very little penetration. 

They never got Timo Werner away and only once was Goretzka through on goal. They maybe missed the pace of Serge Gnabry. 

The big chance that did come for Thomas Muller was from a misplaced pass from Sterling which put John Stones on the back foot. It didn’t come from anything Germany created.

Germany’s best chance came from an England mistake, with Thomas Muller firing wide

RETURN OF THE SET-PIECE TEAM

Setting up the way England did, does imply that you won’t create much through the centre and you will rely on crosses and set pieces for your big chances. 

Thankfully, Trippier was back and so the level of set piece delivery improved significantly. 

Invariably he was hitting his man even if John Stones couldn’t get a firm enough header on his free kick or he was delivering into danger area where Mats Hummels had to intervene to prevent Harry Kane opening the scoring. 

One corner was cleared back to Trippier but he stuck in a superb cross which Maguire probably should have headed home. England were again a threat for these wide areas even before Shaw and Grealish created the goals.

England were a threat from set pieces once again with Maguire going close in the first half

England were a threat from set pieces once again with Maguire going close in the first half

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