England versus Germany is a rivalry within football that more often than not sees Die Mannschaft emerge victorious. But with England welcoming Germany to their home ground, Wembley, for this Euro 2020 last-16 tie, there's an opportunity for the Three Lions to exact revenge on the very same side that knocked them out of the same competition, at the same ground, in the semi-finals, 25 years ago.
Germany finished second in their group to the now-knocked-out France, while England topped Group D, ahead of Croatia, Czech Republic, and Scotland. The winner will travel to Rome on Saturday night to face either Ukraine or Sweden in the quarter-finals, meaning the incentive for victory is even bigger.
Southgate used the majority of squad during the three group stage matches, and seemed uncertain on what his best line-up was - especially with Henderson and Maguire both unfit, and then missing Mount and Chilwell through self-isolation.
Therefore, predicting his starting line-up is something of a mystery, but our writers have given it a good crack nonetheless. Here's who they reckon should start...
Ryan Dabbs (@ryandabbs_)
Southgate chopped and changed his line-up too often in the group stages, which is perhaps why England were slightly underwhelming, despite picking up seven points. The players seemed to lack cohesion, so sticking with the same team (apart from the addition of Jordan Henderson for Kalvin Phillips) that beat Czech Republic to top Group D could help to beat Germany.
Germany, on the other hand, started just 12 players from their 26-man squad in their 3-4-3 formation. After a long and arduous season, this could come back to haunt them in this highly pressurised game, which is why Saka and Henderson should both start. Their energy won't allow the Germans the time on the ball they crave, while they both have the quality to hurt them in attacking areas.
Saka can also help Walker out in defensive areas against Robin Gosens, who has proved a threat at the back post and whipping balls in himself. With Germany's back-five featuring Antonio Rudiger and Matthias Ginter, England should exploit them on the counter-attack with pace - of which both Saka and Sterling have in abundance.
Grealish also retains his place in the side to hurt Germany in attacking areas, especially considering both Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan aren't known for their defensive capabilities. Declan Rice will pick up players from Germany's front three, should they drop deep to collect the ball. The back four remains the same to create consistency in positions where it is absolutely essential.
Ed McCambridge (@edmccambridge)
There’s been so much talk about England potentially switching to a back-three but you have to play to your strengths and not tear up your gameplan just to nullify opponents. So it’s the trusty back four for me, with Walker tasked with tracking the lightning quick Germany wing-back Robin Gosens.
Germany will dominate possession in midfield, so I have selected three workhorses in there to try and combat that. We’ll need energy and tenacity in the middle of the park to break up play and feed the front line. The lack of a natural creator in midfield will be negated by Kane’s deep-lying presence, while the speed and intelligence of Sterling and Saka should case headaches for Low’s wing-backs.
Conor Pope (@Conorpope)
This is where Gareth Southgate’s conservative approach in the group stage pays off – theoretically, at least.
While the 14 goals from Monday’s two games was all well and good for the neutral, an exhilarating England performance against Germany is unlikely to end in success. Packing the midfield with grafters and playing three at the back is far more likely to see the Three Lions through to the quarters.
This season has taken its toll on players, and the tournament has been littered with tired mistakes – just look at the sheer number of own goals. It’s been clear from the start that a team willing to shut up shop can go far, and this might be the best way to do that on Tuesday night.
Mark White (@markwhlte)
OK, so I've omitted the entire front three that won England their last game - the captain, the goalscorer and the Man of the Match. Gareth Southgate is not coming to me for tips, here.
But two things are going to win England this one: high, aggressive pressure and being clinical when the chances present themselves. In that respect, this front three is designed to put the willies up the Germans with devastating pace, movement and creativity. Foden has played centrally against the best in the Premier League - a creaking Mats Hummels isn't going to give him any problem.
England have hit everyone early so far before subduing into a slower rhythm. I suggest doing the same, using the frankly lavish substitute limit to introduce Sterling, Saka, Kane, Mount and Phillips when we're 3-0 up to freshen the side up. Well, one can hope...
EURO 2020 England squad: Full team profile
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