The FIVE Germany players England could look to target in crunch Euro 2020 showdown
Gareth Southgate’s men face a huge test at Wembley later today when England come up against Germany with a spot in the last eight of Euro 2020 on the line.
Aside from the historic rivalry that fuels any meetings between the two sides, both will be aware that victory in this one would make them near-favourites to reach the final from their half of the draw following the Netherlands’ dismissal at the hands of the Czech Republic on Sunday.
But how can England best prepare for the clash, and which German players should they focus their attentions on when coming up with a winning formula?
Quiz: Can you name the England starting XI v Germany at Euro 2000?We’ve taken a look at all the facts and figures from stats-based website Whoscored.com to come up with a list of five potential weak links that the Three Lions could look to exploit…
It would have been borderline blasphemous to suggest that Manuel Neuer was a weak link in this German side just a few short years ago, and there’s no doubting that the veteran stopper is still a world class act on his day.
The Bayern Munich man has been far from infallible so far this tournament, however, with four goals conceded in three group stage matches, including a couple of questionable moments against a plucky Hungarian side.
His average match rating of 6.01 is the second-lowest in Germany's squad to date, and a struggling Harry Kane would be more than grateful for an equally erratic showing from Neuer on Tuesday evening.
To cut Neuer some slack, his defenders weren't exactly flawless in the group stage either.
While Mats Hummels has arguably been Germany’s best player at the tournament so far – own goal against France notwithstanding – Rudiger has looked much less effective.
The Chelsea man has averaged just 0.3 tackles and 0.3 interceptions per game, whereas Hummels has made one tackle and three interceptions per 90 minutes.
It would be harsh to suggest that Rudiger has been a passenger at Euro 2020, but England’s frontline will certainly be looking to take him for a ride at Wembley.
Gundogan was one of the best players in the Premier League last season, plain and simple.
The Manchester City midfielder seemingly took his game to a new level at the Etihad in 2020/21, hitting 17 goals across all competitions, but he hasn’t shown anywhere near as much flair since heading off to Euro 2020.
With no goals and no assists to speak of, this has been a much more muted venture for the 30-year-old, and that’s reflected in the fact that out of the 12 German players to appear in all three matches so far, only Neuer, Rudiger, and Leroy Sane have a lower average match rating.
If he keeps that up, a double pivot of Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice will fancy their chances of nullifying him.
As mentioned above, Sane has struggled to hit his best form so far in this tournament.
Restricted to a spot on the bench for Germany’s first two matches, the ex-Man City winger was brought in against Hungary from the start, but never really looked like causing too many problems from his berth out on the left.
Gareth Southgate has an abundance of talent at right-back to choose from, and whether it be the pacy Kyle Walker or the physically dominant Reece James, the England boss will be fairly confident that his defenders can keep a below par Sane under wraps should Joachim Low persist with him in attack.
One of the hallmarks of Germany’s style of play in this tournament has been their willingness to retain possession in advanced territorial positions.
It hasn’t always been the most penetrative approach, but Low’s men have averaged over 60% possession so far, and their defensive line is not afraid to step up and leave space in behind to further smother the opposition.
Aside from the fact that Ginter is hardly blessed with electric pace to deal with direct balls over the top when play breaks down, the reason that he in particular could be a player to target for England is because his pass completion rate is lower than that of fellow defenders Hummels and Rudiger.
If England can look to pressure him, or even to limit his options in possession, it could prove to be fairly advantageous.