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Sterling shows Löw that football has moved on

DW Matthew Ford Sports
Matt Ford
June 29, 2021

Germany were knocked out of Euro 2020 by England at Wembley as Joachim Löw's reign comes to an end. The man of the match was Raheem Sterling, the sort of player Germany don't have, says DW's Matt Ford.

Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring
The type of player Germany is missing: England's Raheem SterlingImage: Catherine Ivill/REUTERS

At halftime, it was clear that an England victory over Germany would inevitably involve Raheem Sterling. And so it proved.

The Manchester City man had too much pace for Matthias Ginter and too much trickery for Joshua Kimmich, and had been lurking to pounce on one sloppy pass from Thomas Müller.

It was Sterling's long-range effort that produced the first moment of genuine quality in the game, when he forced an impressive save from Manuel Neuer. It was Sterling's driving run at the heart of the German defense that created danger, which was only cleared when Mats Hummels rescued dramatically on the goal line.

And, ultimately, it was Sterling who broke the deadlock to set England on their way to a first knockout win over Germany in a major tournament since 1966.

DW's Matt Ford
DW's Matt Ford

Sterling is the sort of player Germany simply couldn't handle and the sort of player they don't have.

With 15 minutes remaining, and facing a packed German defense, Sterling played the ball into striker Harry Kane and ran to take up position in the box. By the time he got there, England had circulated possession via Jack Grealish and Luke Shaw, and Sterling was on hand to put his team ahead.

It was the best move of the game, and it was no surprise that Sterling was responsible for both its genesis and its climax.

Germany: No answer to Sterling

In terms of their profiles and skill sets, Bayern Munich duo Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry are the closest Germany have to Sterling, players who change games single-handedly with their skill, pace and penetration.

But Sane has never featured highly in Löw's plans since being omitted from Germany's World Cup 2018 squad. Gnabry, meanwhile, was dropped on Tuesday in favor of Timo Werner, the rationale being that the Chelsea man could run deep in behind and use his pace to get at England's back line.

In the opening stages, it worked, to a degree. Germany were combative in midfield, winning balls and launching vertical passes to Werner, but he wasted Germany's best chance of the first half when one-on-one with Jordan Pickford.

Timo Werner's shot is saved by England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford
Close, not close enough: Timo Werner had one of Germany's best chancesImage: Carl Recine/REUTERS

But that was it. From then on, Werner would drop too deep, leaving Germany with no escape route, or would try to hold the ball up – not his game. Germany needed a change, but Löw hesitated too long to make one as not only this last 16 game but modern football in general seemed to visibly pass him by.

"We have talented players, but we also need to develop mature players," legendary former captain Bastian Schweinsteiger opined in his role as a TV pundit.

"These players will continue to develop. By the time we host Euro 2024, some of them will be at the top level," Löw said himself.

But that won't be his responsibility. His 15-year tenure in charge of the Nationalmannschaft has come to a disappointing but deserved end, sealed by Sterling, the sort of player Löw and Germany have been unable to develop.

DW Matthew Ford Sports
Matt Ford Reporter and editor for DW Sports specializing in European football, fan culture & sports politics.@matt_4d