In the latest Sky Sports Football Euros podcast, the panel discuss why England’s quarter-final against Ukraine is a bigger game than facing Germany in the last 16.
England ended a 55-year hoodoo against Germany at major tournaments, having last defeated them in the 1966 World Cup final and beating them inside 90 minutes for the first time.
It was a momentous day for English football, with Gareth Southgate’s side setting up a quarter-final tie against Ukraine in Rome on Saturday evening.
The Sky Sports Football Euros podcast welcomed Sky Sports News reporter Rob Dorsett, Sky Sports features editor Peter Smith and senior football journalist Gerard Brand to discuss the victory at Wembley and beyond…
Dorsett: “This for me is the banana skin. Ukraine is a bigger and more dangerous game than England will have in the semi-final. How do the players react from the exhilaration of winning an occasion like that against Germany? Are they going to be a bit cocky?
“I thought it was key that after the game, one of the first things Southgate said to us and the players was ‘don’t celebrate because we’ve won nothing yet and if we lost in the quarter-finals, all of this would have been for nothing’ — and he’s absolutely right about that.
“I don’t think it matters who they play. Whether England go through the quarter-finals or semi-finals depend on how they perform now. The only way they can lose to Ukraine or Denmark or the Czech Republic in the next round is if they’re not at it and make mistakes themselves. That’s a hugely different situation to be faced with and the biggest risk to England not winning this game is England themselves.”
Brand: “I think Rob is right to say the quarters are a bigger game than the Germany game. I think they’re just as big because the fall is bigger, the expectation is now firmly there. The slight difficulty is it’s acceptable to think Southgate was right and justified in how he approached this game, but also that you would want England to go at lesser opposition a bit more.
“But I have faith in Southgate to navigate the quarter-finals properly, although I don’t see them going completely gung-ho. If we’re talking about belief, I think there’s massive belief inside the camp that they can beat anybody. Outwardly showing, it might not seem that way, but I firmly believe that in the camp, they believe they can win this and beat anybody.
“But we saw on a dramatic Monday night that nobody can rest on their laurels in this tournament.”
Smith: “England will be seriously disappointed if they don’t make the final now. It’s Ukraine in the next round, then Czechs or Denmark in the semi-finals at Wembley with major backing from your home fans in that game.
“Then you take it one step further into the final and who could it be — Belgium Italy, Switzerland or Spain. By the time they get to that point, England will be disappointed if they don’t get to a final on their own patch.
“So then you have to draw the conclusion that England will be disappointed if they don’t win this tournament from this position.
“If England want to be a team that wins major tournaments, they have to have a swagger about them and a certain confidence. If they beat Germany in the style that they beat them, with the control at times, they’ve matched up to some absolute legends — four of the players in that team won the World Cup. These are top players in that Germany side and England have matched them and beaten them.
“They should take some confidence now into that Ukraine game and whether Southgate likes it or not, the expectations are up now. England fans will now expect their team to go all the way and this is what big teams do, they go up against teams they’re expected to beat and they beat them. That’s what England have got to go and do on Saturday.”