Football is indeed ‘Home’ as Sterling and Kane’s strike takes England to the Quarter-finals as they knock Germany out

June 30, 2021

“IT IS COMING HOME!”

This was the slogan of the day’s proceedings at the Wembley. The rivalry began 100’s of years ago and the site of yesterday’s clash certainly reminded the British Royal Family of the tragedy they faced in the hands of the Germans more than 60 years back. The Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge along with their son Prince George had been in attendance as Gareth Southgate’s side took to the field with valor and pride to bring football at ‘home’.

Let’s cut to recall some moments of England in 1996. The environment around the country was pretty upbeat as after 30 years England was set to host a major competition since 1966 in which year the English had lifted the trophy by beating West Germany with a 4-2 score line. The expectations were up top and the Wembley Stadium waited for another night of glory. The match kicked off as Alan Shearer had drawn the first blood into the encounter but the celebrations were short lived as Stefan Kuntz equalized within 10 minutes of conceding the goal. Paul Gascoigne had missed some brilliant chances for England and the English custodian made some incredible saves. It went on from the extra time to penalty shootout. Every single player had scored for England except for the English defender that day, Gareth Southgate.

The emotions came flooding in last night as the defender that still remains inside Gareth’s heart and looks a way for redemption every single day finally found the light. Life has its own mysterious ways, isn’t it?!. The atmosphere went hostile and Wembley turned into a huge cesspool of jubilation as England knocked out the former World Champions and confirmed their place into the semis of EURO 2020.

An empire fell not once, but twice. This year could have been Germany’s year after their catastrophic loss in 2018 but they could not turn the tables towards them. The problem with them had always been their forward line. The German midfield had been a dominant factor of their side but the lack of a natural number ‘10’ costed them the competition yet again. Now, some of you can question me that Germany has lacked towering personnel in their attacking line since Miroslav Klose retired from the national team and I would show you the results they produced since then which had been a tragedy. Thomas Mueller was by far the closest to a forward that they had in their side. Serge Gnabry, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz were more of natural attacking midfielders to be precise.

If we start talking about what went wrong with the German machinery, then we are not going to do Raheem Sterling justice here. The boy from Brent, a small neighborhood some minutes away from Wembley is the place that defines Raheem Sterling, according to him his humble upbringing shaped him into the person he is today. 

The man with dreams in his eyes to wear the number 10 jersey for his country and had come out triumphant as what we all saw when at the 75th minute Luke Shaw’s threaded low cross from the left found Sterling’s legs as he battled with Mats Hummels infront of the goal to touch the ball and sent it way past Manuel Neuer’s reach at the back of the net. From the Prince to the Pauper, England rose from the ashes as the Royal Highness threw his punch to the air as the whole of the country roared with happiness and enthusiasm.

Raheem Sterling’s goal

The match progressed as the Germans took their sweet time to attack and within five minutes of Sterling’s strike, Thomas Mueller blew up a great chance for Germany as he went one-on-one with Pickford and waited for him to commit himself, but he stood strong in his shrine and Mueller’s shot went wide upright.

Mueller after the miss

England did not sit still as the English skipper, Harry Kane nodded the ball home as he finished a top drawer shot with Jack Grealish’s major assist from the left at the juncture of 86th minute and the Wembley Stadium ruptured with noise and celebrations from the home supporters as that goal conclusively sealed the deal for them.

Harry Kane’s goal story

When you are the manager of a football team you always have to think critically before deciders like these. Joachim Low’s decision to not start Serge Gnabry and Ilkay Gundogun made Germany more of a high pressing defensive side as they initiated the game on a strong foot and made England suffer with lack of possession and had frustrated them to make challenges inside the box which they fell to for some time as Declan Rice was penalized with a foul on Kai Havertz. But this tactics did not work for quite long for the visitors as England slowly got their grip to the game as Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips hold on to the possession as much as they could, Tripper and Luke Shaw tried to keep both the flanks active. Robin Gosens put up a fight with Trippier as he frequently tried to advance the play from the left side and put in dangerous crosses into the box. Trippier had dealt with this situation with sheer delicacy as he did not let Gosens in as much as he loved to.

Kalvin Phillips and Kai Havertz- an even contest of talent

Gareth Southgate’s starting lineup had confused everyone. Jack Grealishs’ attacking expertise was absent from the start which created a pandemonium for the Three Lions’ for most of the first half and 24 minutes of second half when he was substituted in place of Bukayo Saka and that particular moment changed the course of the game for England. There was more directness to their attack with Grealish’s defense splitting run-ins inside the box and as he created huge problems in the German defensive third. Jack Grealish was the key architect behind the build-up to both the goals and maybe this is the reason why Gareth Southgate kept his Ace of Attackers safe for him to light up in fixtures like this.

The German’s went home with a sigh of disappointment and all of the football fans around the world missed their attacking prowess more than ever. The television screen showed the image of a little German girl crying in her father’s lap as she saw her heroes filled with angst grounded in Wembley as the English feasted on with their win. The scene reminded me of my story. The day when France lost the 2006 FIFA World Cup final to Italy and a young girl in India cried her eyes out for her hero Zinedine Zidane cost his country the World Cup win with his head butt to Mattaratzi and being shown red card as Italy won the World Cup with sudden death in penalties. Football can be blissful but sometimes it is cruel as well. The English will march on to face the Ukranians in their semi-final clash at the Stadio Olympico in Rome on 4th of July 12:30 am IST.

Team News:

England: Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Trippier, Phillips, Rice, Shaw, Saka, Kane, Sterling.

Subs: Grealish, Henderson, Rashford, Ramsdale, Mings, Coady, Sancho, Mount, Foden, Johnstone, James, Bellingham.

Germany: Neuer, Ginter, Hummels, Rudiger, Kimmich, Kroos, Goretzka, Gosens, Havertz, Muller, Werner.

Subs: Halstenberg, Volland, Gnabry, Leno, Musiala, Sule, Neuhaus, Sane, Gundogan, Trapp, Can, Koch.

Star of the Match: Harry Maguire

Harry Maguire with the Star of the Match award