‘Germany would fear Sancho – if he plays’

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June 29, 2021
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    Jurgen Klinsmann

    Everyone in Germany is surprised Jadon Sancho has not had more game-time for England at Euro 2020 – but they don't want to see that change on Tuesday.

    Sancho is huge in Germany because of what he has done with Borussia Dortmund, and is seen as a big star in the Bundesliga – he is only 21 but he has been spectacular for the past few seasons.

    Another young England player at Dortmund, Jude Bellingham, is rated very highly too, but he is a different kind of player.

    It is Sancho that Germany would fear at Wembley – if he plays. They know how good he is.

    What makes him such a special talent is his technical capability at a very fast pace, and he is fearless – he just goes at people. I love watching him because, when he gets the ball, he excites the fans.

    Of course people who watch him for Dortmund expected him to get more of a chance at this tournament – he has had only six minutes of action so far, as a substitute against the Czech Republic – but the same discussion you are having about fitting England's young talent in your team, we are having about Germany's emerging players too.

    Jadon Sancho watches on against CroatiaSancho did not even make the England bench for their win over Croatia and was an unused substitute in the draw against Scotland. He replaced Bukayo Saka for the final six minutes of their victory over the Czech Republic

    We have Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Jamal Musiala but, like England manager Gareth Southgate, Joachim Low has the choice of five or six players but only maybe three roles to give away since he brought back Thomas Muller, who is a fixture in that team.

    The interesting thing about all of these youngsters is their power to surprise – they have so much ability and can decide a game at any given time, but they can also be inconsistent.

    So, do you go with exciting young faces, or the tried and tested ones? Both managers have got some very similar decisions to make.

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    Whoever plays at Wembley, I don't think the past meetings between the two sides will have any bearing on the outcome.

    Of course, for the fans that are a bit older and the generation of players like myself who were in those big games like in 1990 or 1996, we look at it a bit in the context of history – the games we played in or watched.

    But the younger generation will not do that at all. There have been no big clashes between England and Germany at tournaments in the recent past – it is 11 years since the 2010 World Cup and Muller is the only player left on either side who played in that game.

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    So, don't ask the players that play this game on Tuesday what their kind of feeling is for our wins at the 1990 World Cup or 1996 European Championship is, because they didn't live through that.

    Most of these current England and Germany players, were not even born in 1996, especially the young attackers I have just been talking about.

    There is a lot of football history between these two nations, but not between these two teams – it is is a completely new set of cards that is put on the table this time, and at a new stadium.

    What happened at the old Wembley at Euro 96, when Gareth Southgate missed that penalty, is not going to matter to them, not at all.

    That also applies if this last-16 game goes to a shootout too. We were better at them back then, but you cannot predict who will step up this time, if it comes to it.

    It is a completely new chapter in the story of England and Germany to be written this week, and I cannot wait to see what happens. Let's enjoy it.

    Only one thing matters now

    Part of what makes this latest meeting super-exciting for everyone is that it is so close to call.

    I would put both team's chances at 50-50 and it could go either way. No-one wants to think about exiting the Euros, but it will happen to one of us, and we know it.

    Both teams have had good and bad moments in the group stages but that doesn't matter because this is a different phase – it is the beauty of knockout football, and it is a new tournament now.

    There is no calculating about what you need from each game and who you might meet next, it is down to the moment and who is the best at dealing with it.

    I am sure both teams understand that. Everyone else loves looking at the draw and planning a route to the final but the players will know that only one thing matters – how do I survive this next game.

    Tuesday is not about playing well – I doubt anyone will remember that afterwards. It's about getting through to the quarter-finals, and it doesn't matter how.

    Jurgen Klinsmann was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.

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    June 29, 2021
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