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Germany's Joachim Löw era ends with loss to England

June 29, 2021

Germany's Euro 2020 ended with a defeat in London against England. For Joachim Löw, the end of the tournament also meant the end of his career as head coach.

Gareth Southgate got the better of Joachim Löw on Tuesday
Gareth Southgate got the better of Joachim Löw on TuesdayImage: John Sibley/REUTERS

England 2-0 Germany London
(Sterling 75', Kane 86')

Joachim Löw's last tournament as Germany's coach ended not with a bang but with a whimper as England overcame their demons to finally beat Germany in a big knockout game.

As tense as this fixture was — and for long periods it was on a knife-edge — perhaps the most telling aspect was that, despite having two head coaches at different ends of the experience scale, both spent more time trying not to lose rather than looking to win it.

Afterward, Löw, who announced in May his intention to retire after Euro 2020, could only lament the missed opportunity that his Germany side had had to make one last tournament run.

"It's a huge disappointment for us," Löw told German public broadcaster ARD. "We had hoped for more and the belief was there. But, in such games, it's important to use the few chances you have."

Though playing Germany carries traumatic baggage for England and their fans, this fixture is a matchup that has historically favored Germany. The Germans hardly ever lose to England in major tournaments, their last such defeat coming at the 1966 World Cup final. And despite Germany's own inconsistencies and a raucous home crowd, this Euro 2020 round-of-16 clash was no different.

But, besides England’s fans booing throughout Germany's anthem and Germany's longer spells of possession, and cheering when the big screen showed a little girl in a Germany shirt crying, it was not Wembley's intimidating atmosphere that left Germany dazed and confused but rather their inability to find out how to win the game.

Thomas Müller holds his face after missing a golden chance against England
Germany rued many missed chances in their loss to EnglandImage: Frank Augstein/REUTERS

Had Timo Werner shown more composure, Kai Havertz not been denied by a great save by Jordan Pickford and Thomas Müller not fired wide late on, this might have been a different evening for Germany. But this is a German team unable to escape their inconsistency, and the hard truth is that it has been for a while, long before England got the better of them.

Löw conservative as game slipped away 

Outside of half-chances and long-range efforts, the game grew into a sparring match without anyone willing to trade blows. "No mistakes, no second chances," is what Löw told ARD before kickoff, and both teams seemed distinctly aware of it.

For a team whose weakness are at set pieces, Germany were clumsy in giving away so many opportunities. By halftime alone, Germany had a dominant Mats Hummels, who twice denied Harry Kane the chance to score, to thank that they hadn't conceded.

Löw's attempt to play on the break and make the most of those transitional moments looked good at the start of both halves. But for a side with more shots, more of the ball, and nearly 100 more passes, they struggled to move the ball quickly enough, often enough. This Germany side has shown that it is only ruthless and clinical when the opposition invites them to be.

When space did open up, Germany were unable to take advantage. At one point, Werner was unable to keep control of the ball as another attack broke down. Löw ran towards his bench in frustration, gesticulating wildly. If he could sense it slipping away, he was too late to stop it falling through his fingers.

His substitutions were tardy and surprisingly conservative. Wembley's was not a crowd to be silenced, but it was one to be turned frustrated and anxious. Both Germany and Löw missed the chance to do that.

Raheem Sterling celebrates his goal against Germany
Raheem Sterling scored the decisive goal for England, his third of Euro 2020Image: John Sibley/REUTERS

England didn't miss their chance to turn hope into belief. Raheem Sterling finally opened the scoring from close range, and Harry Kane put the game out of reach shortly thereafter.

In the end, Germany were left hoping that a free kick might work or a Hummels pass with the outside of his boot would find someone. It was desperate. In Russia, Germany got the better of Sweden but looked a side beyond recognition. Against England three years later, Germany were exactly who we thought they were and the result wasn't on their side.

Löw has been hanging by the occasional result for a long while, but he's a man who has always had time. At Wembley, England ended that time with a bang.

Go to page two to relive the action...

Thomas Müller holds his head after missing a late chance to equalize
Thomas Müller holds his head after missing a late chance to equalizeImage: Frank Augstein/REUTERS

Final: England knock Germany out of Euro 2020

87' Joachim Löw going for broke

The Germany coach brings on Leroy Sane and Emre Can for Robin Gosens and Matthias Ginter respectively. Jamal Musiala then comes on for Thomas Müller

Only a handful of minutes for some late magic.

86' GOAL! England 2-0 Germany

The England captain heads in a cross from substitute Jack Grealish to give the home side a 2-0 lead.

Germany players look defeated. There isn't much time to put together a response.

81' Thomas Müller misses! Germany's last chance?

With room to run on a counterattack, the German veteran had only goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to beat, but his shot from just outside the penalty area skips wide left.

Müller, 31, has scored 39 goals in 105 Germany appearances, but has yet to score at a European championship.

75' GOAL! Raheem Sterling puts England ahead

Raheem Sterling's shot splits Mats Hummels and Manuel Neuer
Raheem Sterling's shot splits Mats Hummels and Manuel NeuerImage: Carl Recine/REUTERS

Finally the breakthrough! After bursting forward in midfield, he receives a cross from the let at the top of the six-yard box and taps it past Manuel Neuer.

Sterling, who scored both of England's goals in the group stage, now has three strikes at Euro 2020.

England legend and TV pundit Gary Lineker approves.

68' Both teams go to the bench

Germany: Serge Gnabry, who started all three of Germany's group games, replaces Timo Werner, presumably taking his position up top.

England: Jack Grealish makes his third appearance for England, replacing Buyako Saka. The Aston Villa captain started England's final group stage game against the Czech Republic. Grealish begins operating on the left wing, with Raheem Sterling moving to the right flank.

58' Will Sancho get his shot?

Euro 2020 England Tschechien Sancho Southgate
Image: David Klein/Zuma/picture alliance

Jadon Sancho has begun warming up on the sidelines with teammates Mason Mount and Jordan Henderson.

The 22-year-old Borussia Dortmund forward has barely feature for England during Euro 2020 — confusing to those who follow him in the Bundesliga.

At halftime, Dortmund teammate Erling Haaland had some advice for England coach Gareth Southgate.

48' Electric from Kai Havertz!

Kai Havertz covers his mouth after his shot was deflected over the crossbar
Kai Havertz covers his mouth after his shot was deflected over the crossbarImage: John Sibley/REUTERS

The young German forward started the second half with a bang! His shot from the top of the box was tipped over the bar by Jordan Pickford.

The tension is palpable!

46' Second half underway

Both teams have had chances, now it's time to convert them ... or will we see extra time for the third straight Euro 2020 game?

Halftime: England 0-0 Germany

It is a very tight contest in London's Wembley Stadium, with both sides with multiple chances to score.

Germany may rue Timo Werner's poor finish in the 32nd minute against an England side that has yet to concede at Euro 2020. Meanwhile, the German defense should probably devise a better plan to deal with England's two Harrys — defender Harry Maguire and striker Harry Kane — on set pieces.

Some first half statistics:

  • Shots (on goal): England 3 (2), Germany 3 (2)
  • Possession: England 53%, Germany 47%
  • Pass accuracy: England 86%, Germany, 88%

DW's stadium reporter Jonathan Harding says it all:

45+1' Mats Hummels twice denies Harry Kane!

Mats Hummels tackles the ball away from Harry Kane in the crucial moment
Mats Hummels tackles the ball away from Harry Kane in the crucial momentImage: Matthew Childs/REUTERS

Hummels holding nothing back! The Borussia Dortmund defender went full stretch twice to deny dangerous scoring chances for England captain Harry Kane.

In the 43rd minute, The Borussia Dortmund defender put his body on the line to head away a free kick from Kieran Trippier and and deny England captain Harry Kane a scoring chance.

Minutes later, the ball fell to Kane on the left side of the box, but Hummels went full-extension to toe the ball away.

Back with the national team after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus, Hummels hasn't quite had the dream tournament. His own goal against France led to Germany's first opening defeat at a European Championship.

But he has come up big here in the first half in the crucial moments.

32' Timo Werner with golden chance

Timo Werner's shot is saved by Jordan Pickford
Timo Werner's shot is saved by Jordan PickfordImage: Catherine Ivill/REUTERS

Werner was played through excellently by Chelsea teammate Kai Havertz, but the striker couldn't beat the save of Jordan Pickford.

After several prolific scoring seasons in Germany, Werner struggled in his first season in London, scoring 12 goals in 52 games for Chelsea. Despite his difficulties, Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel opted to start him up top for the Champions League final against Manchester City.

Löw appears to be making a similar bet here. The jury's out as to whether Werner will reward his coach's faith.

26' Germany showing early vulnerabilities in the air

After conceding an early header to Harry Maguire from a corner, Germany had difficulties once more dealing with an English set piece. Luckily Joshua Kimmich was there to clear the free kick away.

But after Kieran Trippier is played through down the right, Maguire once again broke free in front of veteran defender Mats Hummels, but the English defender didn't get enough on it to challenge Manuel Neuer in goal.

17' Sterling gets things started for England

England have finally given Manuel Neuer work to do! Raheem Sterling's effort was parried away by Neuer, and the Germany captain was called upon again to stop Harry Maguire's header from the ensuing corner.

Sterling scored both of England's goals in the group stage. Along with Harry Kane, he is one of England's best attackers at Gareth Southgate's disposal.

9' Leon Goretzka wastes no time getting involved

Leon Goretzka unleashes an early effort for Germany
Leon Goretzka unleashes an early effort for GermanyImage: Carl recine/REUTERS

Making his first start at Euro 2020, the Bayern Munich man has been very active in the opening minutes. He fired off the games first shot, nearly picked out Timo Werner with a through ball from midfield and won a foul at the top of the penalty area.

Goretzka had missed Germany's first two games, still recovering from a muscular issue he suffered with Bayern. But he came off the bench and scored a crucial equalizer against Hungary — one that saw Germany finish second in a very difficult Group F to set up this last 16 tie with England.

At 26, he's a leading member of Germany's younger generation that could make some noise at this tournament and next year's World Cup in Qatar.

1' Kickoff! Germany and England players kneel together

We're are underway in London's Wembley Stadium

Players from both teams took a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement against racial injustice. Germany players decided as a team to join England in the protest, which they have done throughout Euro 2020.

"We stand for all these values and think it's right to stand up for such values," Germany coach Joachim Löw told reporters on Monday.

Joachim Löw: England's biggest weakness is...

The Germany coach spoke with German broadcaster ARD ahead of kickoff.

On Leon Goretzka starting: Leon has been up for it in the last few days, whereas Ilkay [Gündogan] was a bit light-headed [with his cold].

On Timo Werner starting: We need depth in our game up front. We can't just play around in front of the defense or in the half-spaces, we need to be unfussy and straightforward, and Timo can hurt their defense with his pace. 

On Germany: We've not been consistent, but there's no beauty prize here, it was all about getting through the group and we did that. And if we do the same again today, even better.
We need to be clinical, ice cold, clever up front, and concentrated at the back, no errors. Pretty football without efficiency doesn't achieve anything. No mistakes, no second chances. 

On England: England's strength is their speed up front, they get in behind very well. Weaknesses perhaps at the back. Even though they've kept three clean sheets, they're very cautious and there are possibilities to get at them.

Are you ready for England-Germany?

This Jürgen Klopp impersonator sure is...

Raindrops in London

It appears Germany will be playing their second straight game in the rain. According to BBC Weather, there is a 32% chance of rain when the game kicks off, but could subside by the final whistle.

Werner, Goretzka start for Germany

Lineups are in! Timo Werner and Leon Goretzka get their first starts at Euro 2020, replacing Serge Gnabry and Ilkay Gündogan respectively. 

Goretzka scored the crucial equalizer that lifted Germany to second place in Group F to set up this tie against England.

Thomas Müller also returns to the starting lineup after starting on the bench against Hungary for fitness reasons.

For England, 19-year-old Bukayo Saka gets his second straight start in the tournament, starting on the right side of a front three with Harry Kane in the middle and Raheem Sterling on the left. 

England coach Gareth Southgate appears to have opted for a three-man defense, with Kyle Walker and John Stones on either side of Harry Maguire.

The easy road?

While the exit of France last nightwas the biggest shock of the tournament so far, the Euro 2020 knockouts have been a little bit bonkers all round, with the Netherlands and holders Portugal further big names to fall. 

The winner of this one will play the winner of the late game between Sweden and Ukraine, with the two biggest surprise packages to date, Czech Republic or Denmark, awaiting in the semifinal. With Belgium, Italy and Spain on the other side of the draw, it looks a great run for Germany or England on paper but, to paraphrase English managerial great Brian Clough, football isn't played on paper, it's played on grass.

Gnabry returning to happy hunting ground

Jamal Musiala isn't the only member of the Germany squad who spent plenty of his youth in England. Serge Gnabry joined Arsenal's youth setup at 15 in 2010, only leaving London six years later when he was in his early twenties.

But since moving to Bayern Munich in 2017, Gnabry has excelled in London, scoring six in his two appearances there, two against Chelsea and four against Spurs. 

"So far I've done very well when I've come back to London, hopefully on Tuesday as well," Gnabry told the Bayern website. "For me, there's always a lot of history when we go to England because I still have some friends there as well. Hopefully they'll be in the stadium." 

The German winger hasn't quite caught fire in the tournament yet but hopes to break his duck on Tuesday. "Of course, not having scored yet isn't ideal. But we've progressed as a team. I keep waiting for my chance."

History 'irrelevant' to Southgate

England boss Gareth Southgate has had to face a deluge of questions about his penalty miss that sent England out of Euro '96 and Germany to the final at Wembley, this week. But he says that loss, and England's tournament hoodoo against Germany, will play little part for his players on Tuesday. 

"I don't need to demystify it. The history is an irrelevance for them," Southgate told British broadcaster ITV. "Of course, they are watching that stuff and getting a bit of an understanding of it but it's not something we're speaking to them about.

"This team has put down lots of historical performances in the last couple of years, made their own history, made their own stories and this is how they should view this game."

Gareth Southgate (number 6) after his penalty miss in Euro 96
Gareth Southgate (number 6) after his penalty miss in Euro 96Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Offside Sports Photography/M. Leech

Defensive doubts for Germany

Whether or not he tweaks his defensive setup, Joachim Löw could well be forced in to changes in personnel, with reports that two defenders are fitness doubts. Robin Gosens, the standout player in the only German win of the tournament so far, and Antonio Rüdiger, European champion with London club Chelsea, are reportedly both in danger of missing out. However, Rüdiger did post a picture of himelf, seemingly in training, on Twitter on Monday. 

The center back has become a key man for Germany, while Gosens appeared to have offered a solution to the problem on the left side of defense that Löw has struggled to solve for many years. Ilkay Gündogan is also a fitness doubt.

Löw on 'now or never' clash

Every game could now be the last in charge for Joachim Löw, and the Hungary game very nearly was. But the Germany coach didn't seem too flustered by that notion in his pre match press conference. He's seen it all before.

"All in all I thought about it for two seconds," Löw said. "I don't think about it because I have so many other thoughts in my head."

Most of those revolve around key tactical decisions, given how much Germany struggled against Hungary until a second half switch. But Löw insists whoever he picks will be ready.

"This is a match which electrifies everybody. For both teams, it's in or out, it's now or never, the loser goes home. There is a lot at stake tomorrow, I can feel the players are highly motivated and we have analyzed the English side," he said. "We are looking forward to this great encounter and a great evening ahead."

How Germany got here

Joachim Löw's side fluctuated between frustrating and fantastic as they ultimately finished second in Group F.

Germany were clearly second best as a Mats Hummels own goal condemned them to an opening day defeat by France, although there was some understanding for the fact that they were beaten by the reigning world champions and tournament favorites.

Things improved dramatically in the second game, when Germany brushed Portugal aside with a dynamic, powerful and positively chaotic performance. Late bloomer Robin Gosens the star man.

But familiar shortcomings emerged again in the final group game against Hungary as Germany struggled to break down a dogged and well-organized defense. Ultimately, Leon Goretzka was the hero on a roller-coaster night.

Which Germany will show up against England on Tuesday night is anyone's guess.

Leon Goretzka celebrates scoring with teammates Kevin Volland and Joshua Kimmich
Better late than never: Leon Goretzka saved the day against HungaryImage: Lukas Barth/epa/dpa/picture alliance

How England got here

Though Germany have been somewhat unpredictable, England were consistent but unspectacular as they topped Group D.

A 1-0 revenge win over World Cup semifinal foes Croatia got Gareth Southgate's team off to a solid start, but there was frustration when they were held to a goalless draw by neighbors Scotland.

Nevertheless, another 1-0 win over the Czech Republic saw the Three Lions qualify as group winners with just two goals — a negative record.

Do three clean sheets make England a solid tournament team and place them among the favorites? Or does the lack of goals suggest that they're still some way off? We shall see ...

An historic rivalry — or not?

Well, it depends who you ask.

For England, who haven't beaten Germany in a major tournament knockout game since the 1966 World Cup final, the Germans are considered their biggest rivals.

Germany, on the other hand, tend to measure themselves more against the Netherlands and Italy.

But that doesn't mean that games against England are completely irrelevant — especially not games at Wembley, considered by many Germans to be the home of football.

DW's Matt Ford spoke to three prominent German football journalists to find out what the Germans really think of England.

Germany joins England in kneeling protest

Joachim Löw confirmed that Germany's players will kneel with their English opponents ahead of kickoff. 

England have knelt before every group stage game in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement against racial injustice.

England captain Harry Kane will also join German counterpart Manuel Neuer in wearing a rainbow armband during the match.

Jamal Musiala: Made in England, perfected in Germany?

It's set to be an extra special evening for Jamal Musiala, the 18-year-old Germany winger who grew up in London and represented England at youth level before opting to join the Nationalmannschaft.

He came off the bench against Hungary, becoming the youngest ever player to represent Germany at a major tournament, and was instrumental in setting up Goretzka's goal.

He's likely to start on the bench again against England, but will he have an impact against the country of his childhood?

DW's Michael Da Silva spoke to one of Musiala's former youth coaches to find out more about the youngster.

Jamal Musiala is congratulated by Germany coach Joachim Löw after the game against Hungary
Made in England: Jamal Musiala opted for Germany and was instrumental against HungaryImage: O.Behrendt/Contrast/imago images

Jadon Sancho: Revered in Germany, cast aside by England

Another player set to start as a substitute is Jadon Sancho, although there is a lot less comprehension for that decision — especially in Germany, where Sancho has starred for Borussia Dortmund in recent seasons.

DW's Michael da Silva is among those experts who are baffled by Sancho's omission from the England team.

German team news

German media reports suggest that Löw is likely to make two changes to his starting lineup: Thomas Müller is set to replace the thus-far-ineffective Leroy Sane, while the fit-again Goretzka could start ahead of Ilkay Gündogan.

Both ought to add some much-needed dynamism and creativity to Germany's midfield, not to mention a dangerous goal threat.

DW's Jonathan Harding is in London for us, and has written about how important Müller is to this Germany team.

Germany's Thomas Müller in action against Hungary at Euro 2020
Der Raumdeuter: "Space interpreter" Thomas Müller is vital to GermanyImage: CHRISTOF STACHE/REUTERS

England team news:

As for England, head coach Southgate has faced criticism for being overly cautious at Euro 2020 so far.

He brought attacking midfielder Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) and winger Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) into the team to face the Czech Republic, but England still only managed one goal, and the pair could be replaced by Phil Foden (Manchester City) and Mason Mount (Chelsea).

Southgate is likely to revert to a more defensive approach on Tuesday, knowing what damage Germany did to an expansive Portugal team but how they struggled against a defensive Hungary.

Some reports in England suggest that Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson could start in midfield in a 5-4-1 / 3-4-3 formation.

Home advantage for England

Despite the continued spread of the delta variant in London, Wembley's stadium capacity is set to be increased from 20,000 to 45,000, and German fans will be in the minority.

The German Football Association has urged supporters not to travel, but about 2,000 are expected to anyway. They will have to undergo several COVID-19 tests in order to free themselves from UK quarantine after five days, before quarantining for a further 14 days upon their return to Germany, no exceptions.

That's a total of 19 days for 90 minutes of football. Perhaps we should hope it goes to extra-time and penalties, just so that those fans can get their money's worth!