England break their 55 year German spell. Now they need a roman conquest

By Andrew Warshaw

June 30 – They’ve laid one of football’s great hoodoos to rest but it will mean precious little if they fail at the next hurdle.

After beating Germany in the knockout stage of a major tournament for the first time since winning the World Cup in 1966, sparking jubilant scenes and a carnival atmosphere across the country, England travel to Rome for a Euro 2020 quarter final with Ukraine that has a whole different feel about it.

Firm favourites next Saturday and without their home Wembley crowd to cheer them on, Gareth Southgate’s team cannot afford to slip up in what is by far the easiest half of the draw, presenting a clear route to what would be England’s first senior final since that momentous July day 55 years ago which still remains their only major triumph.

Criticised beforehand for changing England’s formation against the Germans and leaving so much attacking talent on the bench, Southgate’s tactics paid off as his team, which at times rode their luck, secured an ultimately deserved and historic 2-0 victory with the help of late substitute Jack Grealish.

England may not have set the world alight but in terms of getting the job done, they have demonstrated a pragmatic, collective approach which augurs well for the rest of the tournament. Significantly, after a hugely disappointment group phase, Harry Kane has now found his scoring touch after heading in their second goal – and his first of the campaign — shortly after Raheem Sterling’s opener.

But there is an important caveat. Anything other than a place in the final will now be regarded – and rightly so – as failure given the fact that so many heavyweight teams are already out and those that remain are in the other half of the draw.

Southgate will know that as well as anyone and whether he reverts to a traditional back four against underdogs Ukraine remains to be seen.

“You know that if you change the shape and pick certain personnel instead of others and it goes wrong, you’re dead,” he said after the Germany game.

“I said to the players straight away that I am the party pooper because if we don’t capitalise on that then it doesn’t count for anything.”

The last time England kept four clean sheets in  a major tournament was during the 1966 World Cup. It is also the first time any side has gone through their first four games of a European Championship without conceding.

Both good omens but only if England go all the way.

“It’s a dangerous moment for us,” Southgate admitted. “We’ll have that warmth of success and the feeling around the country that we’ve only got to turn up to win the thing – and we know it’s going to be an immense challenge from here on.”

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