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Target of criticism after the somewhat sluggish first round of England, Gareth Southgate has the opportunity to regain credit on Tuesday against Germany. In addition to a place in the quarter-finals of the Euro to go for, the coach of the Three Lions can partly erase a painful memory, 25 years old, against the Nationalmannschaft.
For a country considered the cradle of football, England has a rather hungry record with a World Cup only won at home, in 1966. Since this coronation, the Three Lions have gone from disappointment to disillusionment. As in 1996, during the Euro organized at home. Gareth Southgate has not forgotten the cruel fate of the national team in this European Championship of which he was the unfortunate hero.
Fallers of Spain in the quarter-finals (0-0, 4 shots on goal to 2), the men led at the time by Terry Venables fell at the end of the suspense against Germany in the next round. In the penalty shootout, none of the top five shooters from either side failed. Gareth Southgate hadn’t needed to shoot La Roja. This time, after the first round of shooters, he took responsibility.
Aston Villa center-back came up against German goalkeeper Andreas Köpke and lost his duel. Behind, David Seaman could do nothing against the heavy strike from Andreas Möller. And so Germany eliminated England at the gates of the final of “his” Euro (1-1, 6 shots on goal to 5).
The failure, the insults and the curse
During the 2018 World Cup, Gareth Southgate, who became a coach, recalled that he had wanted to hit this famous shot on goal, despite his limited experience with the national team: “I was voluntary, really. C ‘was the type of personality I had. I thought you had to volunteer. It’s probably more courageous not to, when you’re not confident. “
The support of his teammates did not alleviate his pain. Gareth Southgate suffered torrents of insults after this failure. It has remained very marked. During a podcast devoted to mental health, in November 2020, the technician confided: “You move in stadiums and the supporters sing against you, which is a torment. And even if I wanted to fight against that and show that I could play despite that, indoors, obviously it hurt. “
The loss to Germany marked the beginning of a curse for the English side in the penalty shootout. In the round of 16 of the 1998 World Cup, England lost to Argentina (2-2, 4 shots on goal to 3, failures by Paul Ince and David Batty). In the quarter-finals of Euro-2004, Portugal won (2-2, 6 shots on goal to 5, failures by David Beckham and Darius Vassell). Two years later, at the World Cup in Germany, it was again Portugal that shattered English dreams in the quarter-finals (0-0, 3 shots on goal to 1, failures by Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher). Finally, in the quarter-finals of Euro-2012, Italy defeated England once again (0-0, 4 shots on goal to 2, failures of Ashley Young and Ashley Cole).
“Gareth is going to want to take his revenge”
At the helm of the selection since the end of 2016, after the Roy Hodgson era and the ephemeral reign of Sam Allardyce, Gareth Southgate is, paradoxically, among those who have broken this series of setbacks. It was in the round of 16 of the 2018 World Cup against Colombia (1-1, 4 shots on goal to 3). Having overcome this blockage, has the time come to take revenge on this Germany which caused him so much misfortune?
“In previous eras, we talked a lot about the past and the history. But there is no reason for these boys to feel that way, because a lot of them weren’t even born. It is irrelevant,” evacuates the main interested party. However, some players will approach this shock with the desire to espouse the potential desire for revenge of their coach. “I saw, of course, that missed shot. (…) I’m sure Gareth is going to want to get his own revenge,” said midfielder Declan Rice.
Washing off the 1996 affront isn’t the only good reason to defeat Germany at Wembley on Tuesday. Gareth Southgate’s future is also at stake. The English federation has already announced that it will maintain its confidence in him, whatever the outcome of this Euro. But the sluggish first round of the Three Lions sparked sharp criticism of the manager’s management and tactical choices. Premature elimination would make his position even more uncomfortable.