An England-Germany match-up stirs a huge pot of emotions – including a justifiable worry of history repeating itself – but the carefree kids in Gareth Southgate‘s squad will carry in a ‘no fear’ approach. Whether such a breezy outlook will survive all the way until kick-off we will see – the rivalry and the stakes make Tuesday’s Wembley clash a mountain of a game – but four days out all the young guns are feeling is excitement.
There is an inherent danger for the second-youngest squad in the Euros knockout stages that Germany’s greater experience – they had five thirty-somethings on the pitch against Hungary on Wednesday night – could be a disadvantage in such a high pressure game.
But England are banking on their youthful brio being a trump card.
“We’ve got quite a young squad but I think that can be a positive thing,” insisted Jordan Henderson, one of England’s old stagers at 31.
“A lot of these lads just go out, enjoy the game and play with no fear and that’s what they need to do again on Tuesday – go and show everybody how good they are and use the emotion and passion in the right way to give them energy for the game because that can be the difference.
“As an experienced player I can help with that and make sure we’re in the right frame of mind going into the game.
“A lot of the lads have played in huge games already – Champions League finals, cup finals, big games for England. They’re used to big games even though they’re young and I’m sure they’re looking forward to this one.”
For Henderson, the clash of rival nations is personal as well. The Liverpool captain had his German club manager Jurgen Klopp on minutes after the group stages were completed.
“As soon as the final whistle went he just sent a smiley face emoji,” said Henderson.
It is a fixture with so much baggage attached.
While the age profile of Gareth Southgate’s players renders their manager’s penalty miss at Euro ’96 and the parallel heartbreak of Italia ’90 a sepia irrelevance, they are very much alive to the fact that spot-kicks could again play their part.
England are honing their shoot-out skills just in case.
“I don’t want to go into too much detail. I can’t tell you too much. But the process is like you would do in a game,” said Henderson, who missed England’s last penalty in their final warm-up game against Romania.
Raheem Sterling is meanwhile eyeing a career-defining triumph at the Euros after his goals fired England into the last 16.
The Manchester City striker has won three Premier Leagues, an FA Cup and four Carabao Cups in his trophy-laden club career but views a major international tournament as the ultimate.
“I think winning something with the national team, England, would definitely be the greatest achievement that I can possibly do. I mean, not me but the team can possibly achieve,” said Sterling.
“I feel like you win stuff with your clubs and you know it’s a great achievement but this is on a bigger scale.
“You’re representing a nation, a country, so to achieve something with England it would be the biggest thing to happen in my footballing career.
“We need now to go against Germany and we need a big performance. If we’re going to win this tournament, if you’re going to be in with a shout, you’ve got to put in these big performances against the big sides and that’s what we’ll be looking to do on Tuesday.”
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed