The pre-match narrative was that England hadn’t knocked Germany out of a major tournament since 1966, but Gareth Southgate refused to let history define his night at Wembley, instead executing a tactical masterclass that made the 2014 world champions look ordinary.
Goals from Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane secured England a 2-0 victory in front of a raucous Wembley audience, setting up a quarter-final date with Ukraine in Rome. The reception, not just on these shores, but across the continent was one of a stunned realisation that England might actually be serious this time.
The English press naturally waxed lyrical about the nation’s triumph in the immediate aftermath, but how did media outlets across Europe and beyond react to the result?
Hamburg-based Der Spiegel didn’t mince their words with the caption: “The tears of Wembley”.
They also chose to praise the throwback performance of Mats Hummels, who rolled back the years to silence Kane for much of the game, but in the end it counted for little as “Joshua Kimmich cried and Germany lacked the big plan”.
Mats Hummels sorgte für eine starke Rettungsaktion, Harry Kane verzweifelt lange, aber am Ende weinte Joshua Kimmich. Dem DFB-Team hat bei der EM und gegen England der ganz große Plan gefehlt. https://t.co/420OncsCjd pic.twitter.com/NOh8p0YtJL
— DER SPIEGEL (@derspiegel) June 29, 2021
Their tweet read: “Mats Hummels made a strong rescue operation, Harry Kane desperate for a long time, but in the end Joshua Kimmich cried. The DFB team lacked the big plan at the European Championships and against England.”
In his column for Der Spiegel, Peter Ahrens commented that: “Joachim Low was never loved, but his successes proved him right for a long time. Then his instincts left him.”
He went on to criticise the outgoing manager’s tactics and team selection: “This team has players of a high calibre, many of them are star performers for international top clubs.
“But as a team of 11 players the national side hasn’t clicked for some time, and the coach has to take some blame for that.
Löw, der Espressionist. Mein Text dazu. https://t.co/47xmb9pypL
— Peter Ahrens (@Peter_Ahrens) June 30, 2021
“His choice to remove Joshua Kimmich’s driving force from the centre of midfield did not pay dividends.
“He didn’t have a lucky hand in the choice of his strikers. Leroy Sane disappointed against Hungary. Against England, Low pulled Timo Werner off the pitch after an hour.”
Kicker meanwhile went with the headline: “Low on his bitterest defeat as national coach.”
Munich-based publication Suddeutsche Zeitung commented that the game against England was a “missed opportunity” and Low now “has to live with the judgment”.
Their sub-headline read: “Yes, the game against England could have been different, but the feeling of a missed opportunity remains. The deserving national coach Joachim Low has to live with the judgment that he missed the time to quit.”
Another caption led with “Just sad”, while the immediate report after the game depicted Thomas Muller dejected, with his hands on his head after missing a gilt-edged opportunity to restore parity, dragging his shot desperately wide of Jordan Pickford’s post.
Fußball-EM: Deutschland scheidet im Achtelfinale gegen England aus https://t.co/hpK1r1DAfQ
— Süddeutsche Zeitung (@SZ) June 29, 2021
Following that miss, Muller also took to his personal Instagram account to apologise for scuffing the glaring opportunity, posting: “There it was, that one moment that you will remember in the end, where you won’t sleep at night. Getting this opportunity and then leaving it idle hurts me as hell.”
Bild went with “unprepared, uninspired, awkward, submissive” on the front page of their website, while former Germany internationals Michael Ballack and Lukas Podolski were not afraid to hold back in their assessment of the defeat.
“There was a lack of ambition, a lack of fighting spirit,” Podolski told BILD‘s podcast.
“It all seems so bleak when you see the faces of the players; there’s nothing that moves.
“A fire could break out in the stadium, and they would stay on the pitch. We’re missing the absolute will to score a goal.”
Ballack chimed in with his own version of events on MagentaTV, stating: “[It was] sobering, unconscious
“The first half showed that we had no answers, that we had withdrawn unnecessarily. I don’t understand why he waited so long to make his substitutions.”
Michael Horeni of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung led with the headline: “The self-deception has been exposed,” in relation to Low’s apparent delusion that he could rebuild and sustain the success of the national team following a number of their 2014 stars retiring, including then-captain Philipp Lahm and record goalscorer Miroslav Klose.
Meanwhile broadsheet Die Zeit were not going to pass the opportunity to throw a pun into the mix, leading with “LOXIT”, while Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung also went with the English reference: “Last Exit London! Low’s era ends with a bitter exit.”
Finally, Bild‘s sister publication Sportbild captured the defeat with: “Oh no! Deutschland knock-out in Wembley!”.
In true L’Equipe style, the French newspaper’s notoriously harsh player ratings were not very kind to either team…
— John Laverty (@JohnCharlesLave) June 30, 2021
Bukayo Saka racked up a merited “7” performance with Squawka‘s own player ratings, with chief writer Muhammad Butt commenting: “Really lively. Didn’t use the ball that well, but beat markers for fun and Germany were never comfortable when he was in possession. Defended really well too. Bafflingly withdrawn in the second-half.”
However, L’Equipe were far from impressed by the teenager, who was afforded an England-low “4”. Elsewhere, Timo Werner, who was Germany’s biggest threat and actually created openings when on the pitch generated a rating of “2”, while Mat Hummels’ imperious showing was only enough to warrant a “6”.
As for headlines, they led with: “Low – the broken love.”
Adding: “That was yesterday’s last game from coach Joachim Low (61), who embodied the team for 15 years. The general melancholy was directed against him too. The era ends now with the last impression of this defeat.”
In Italy, Tuttosport exclaimed: “England grew up! Sterling and Kane send their old rival Germany home. Germany laments the sensational chance that Müller gives after the 1-0: It could have been a different story. A triumph that England has been waiting for since the 1966 World Cup.”
Spanish outlet Diario AS wrote: “Goodbye Group of Death,” in relation to each member of Group F (France, Portugal, Germany and Hungary) crashing out of the tournament, while El Pais said “England reclaim Wembley”.
Further afield, ABC in Australia ranked the remaining teams in Euro 2020, placing England second, behind FIFA’s No. 1 ranked nation Belgium, but ahead of the likes of Italy and Spain. Their justification? The article mentioned: “England just beat Germany. That tells you everything you need to know about whether Gareth Southgate’s men are the real deal.”
Jose Mourinho refused to pass up the opportunity to get involved in the post-match discussion, explaining that he would now be “really disappointed” if England fail to reach the Euro 2020 final after brushing past Germany.
He told talkSPORT: “I watched the game I expected to watch, a big game.
“Honestly, the geometry was there, the duels were there, both teams respecting each other a lot, but England in my opinion are very, very solid, very compact.
“And then in the right moment, it couldn’t be a better moment to do it [score] with 10 minutes to go, and then the little bit of luck in that one-on-one with Muller.
“I’m really happy for Southgate, the players and the fans.
“I’m singing ‘it’s coming home’ to show my happiness. […] [But] it’s not yet coming home.”
He continued: “England need balance in the bad moments and in the good moments. The same way media is critical in the bad moments, we have to be balanced now, there’s still a long way to go.
“In the normal conditions, England are going to be in the final, because I don’t see them losing against the teams they could face in the next rounds.
“But we must respect football and the unpredictability. France are not in the quarter-finals because they didn’t respect the game in the final 10 minutes.
“I’m very, very pleased. I just hope it ends well, I hope it comes home. But football is football.
“I always say, in the bad moments I don’t want me and my team to be in hell, but in the good moments I don’t want to be in heaven.
“So, I would say to them calm down and just focus on the next game.
“But, in my opinion, England are ready for anything and I will be very disappointed if we don’t make the final, because we should, we should, we definitely should.”
Finally, across the Atlantic, Rory Smith for the New York Times posted that “England Overcomes Germany, and Its Demons”.
He wrote: “England does not see Germany as a peer or as a rival so much as it sees it as an inverted reflection of itself. It has come to stand for everything that England, for some reason, could not be. Germany is what England could have won, could have been. Germany is where the ghosts rise.”