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Didi Hamann insists Germany are underdogs – but fires warning shot to England


Former Germany midfielder Dietmar Hamann believes the hype surrounding Tuesday’s Round of 16 clash against England at Wembley may take its toll on the hosts.

The match continues Gareth Southgate’s side’s run of having all matches at home in the tournament but the clash against the 2014 world champions is set to be the toughest test yet.

Former Liverpool midfielder Hamann – who scored at Wembley in a 1-0 victory for his nation in 2000 – believes the build-up and attention on the game from an English perspective may work against the hosts.

He is in little doubt that the Three Lions are the stronger team but he believes the added pressure of having the game at home and the expectations that come with that may work in Germany’s favour.

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Didi Hamann scored the winner for Germany at Wembley against England in a qualifier for the 2002 World Cup
Didi Hamann scored the winner for Germany at Wembley against England in a qualifier for the 2002 World Cup

Hamann wrote in his column in the Daily Mail : “I make England favourites for Tuesday’s game because I’ve seen nothing from us over the first three games to change my view on a group who I had little faith in anyway. And I think England look so defensively secure.

“But what might work against Gareth Southgate and England is the hype surrounding this game.

“As soon as it became clear on Wednesday that our two countries were going to meet at Wembley, the press and the public went into overdrive. And there is no way that the players can escape that – they are based in England; they can see the headlines.

“It’s all very well saying ‘don’t read the papers’ but Southgate’s players will be swimming in it and acutely aware of the mood of the country and the level of expectation.

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“And that can be draining, that can sap energy levels and if the England players – and remember it’s a young team – can’t deal with the tension, the hype and the added pressure which this match has produced then they could go to pieces.”

Hamann has tempered any expectations for Germany, who only scrapped through their group having fought back twice to rescue a draw against Hungary in their final group game.

Leon Goretzka's equaliser for Germany against Hungary saw his nation advance in Euro 2020
Leon Goretzka’s equaliser for Germany against Hungary saw his nation advance in Euro 2020

He has called on boss Joachim Low to take more risks with his starting line-up and has called on former England youth star Jamal Musiala to be handed a start.

Hamann added: “As for us, if you’d have offered me four points and a place in the knockout phase in the softest half of the draw before the tournament had started, I’d have bitten your arm off.

“We aren’t playing well, I don’t trust Joachim Low to pick the right team and I don’t see any unity in this group, but we’re still in it. And if Low takes a couple of risks we could still go further.

“That means going back to a defensive four, bringing Marcel Halstenberg in ahead of Robin Gosens, starting Leon Goretzka alongside Toni Kroos and taking a punt from the start on Jamal Musiala.”

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Hamann also said that this fixture was taken more seriously and with greater attention in the English press than their German counterparts.

He explained that whilst the fixture carried a degree of significance in Germany, it was not viewed as the rivalry that it often is through the lens of the English press.

Will England defeat Germany in Tuesday’s Round of 16 clash? Comment below

“The hype surrounding England’s game against Germany on Tuesday, and this fixture in general, never fails to amaze me – and I do think it might work against Gareth Southgate’s young side,” Hamann continued.

“The English are almost obsessed with games between the two countries and I know that from how often people keep dredging up the 5-1 win in Munich in 2001. That was 20 years ago for heaven’s sake.

“I’m 100 per cent surprised that people in England still talk about that game. I played in three Germany-England games, the first a group game at Euro 2000 in Belgium which England won 1-0 and neither of us qualified.

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“And then there were the two World Cup qualifiers. I scored the only goal at Wembley in Kevin Keegan’s last match as England manager, another game that seems to have a lot of importance over there. It wasn’t a career highlight for me.

“And then came the 5-1, the game you won’t forget. Yet it was only a qualifier, not even at a major finals.

“Losing that game actually, in a funny way, did us a favour because it meant we had to go through the playoffs for the 2002 World Cup against Ukraine, and I think it really galvanised us and brought us together.

“And, of course by the time we were playing in the World Cup final England’s players were already on holiday.

“In Germany we know the history of the match, of ‘66, Italia ‘90, the Euro 96 shootout, but those games just don’t absorb us in quite the same way.”

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