‘There is nothing for England to be scared of in the knockout stages’on June 24, 2021 at 11:03 am

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Former England captain and BBC Sport columnist Alan Shearer says there are reasons for the Three Lions to be optimistic about making it all the way to the final of Euro 2020 – if they get past Germany in the last 16.Alan Shearer

There are so many stories behind our previous meetings at major finals, whether they have ended well or badly for us. I have played in a few, and experienced both outcomes myself.

This time? It’s going to be tough, but we are at Wembley in front of 40,000 fans and there are a few other things that give us hope.

Germany were less than 10 minutes away from being knocked out of Euro 2020 before Leon Goretzka’s late equaliser against Hungary, and there are plenty of question marks about Joachim Low’s side.

They have conceded in every game they have played at this tournament and although our forward line is yet to click, I am looking forward to seeing us go at the Germany defence, because we have the pace to worry them.

We certainly don’t have to fear Germany anyway. In fact I haven’t seen anything at this European Championship that we should really be scared of.

Euro 2020 starts here

Wednesday night was incredible to watch. At different times we were playing all four of the teams from Group F in the last 16, but I was saying to Gary Lineker that it didn’t matter who we ended up against – none of them have been playing at full pelt.

It is the same with all the other countries who have reached the knockout stage, other than possibly Italy, who have been very impressive in winning all of their games so far and – like us – are yet to concede.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, because this Germany game is a very difficult one to get through first, but we have got a decent draw and we probably couldn’t have asked for a more favourable run to get to the final.

Of course England will have to improve if we are going to get there, but from what I’ve seen we have got a decent chance of going deep into this tournament.

This is where it really gets interesting though – there have not been many surprises so far, and all the big-hitters are through as expected.

We are not the only ones who will be saying our Euro 2020 starts here.

Graphic showing England's route to the final of Euro 2020 and their opponents or possible opponents at each stage: last 16: Germany, quarter-finals: Sweden or Ukraine, semi-finals: Wales, Denmark, the Netherlands or the Czech Republic

We have the attacking quality to pose more of a threat

England’s attack is the obvious area where we need to get better if we are going to make it all the way to the final at Wembley on 11 July.

To me, it looks like Gareth Southgate felt we looked a little bit vulnerable defensively, and he has definitely addressed that but, in doing so, he has taken something away from us when we go forward.

Our attacking stats so far in this tournament are not great – we have had the least shots and created the fewest chances of any of the teams in the last 16, and our stats for both are worse than many of the teams who did not make it through.

Graphic showing England's attacking stats at Euro 2020. Gareth Southgate's side are ranked 22nd out of 24 teams for total shots (22) and chances created (17) and 23rd for chances created from open play (14) from their three games so far

I’m not really bothered about that, though. That’s partly down to the way we have managed games – we’ve never been behind and had to chase a goal.

We also know we’ve got the forward players to pose far more of a threat, we just haven’t found the right balance yet.

Jack Grealish and Bukayo Saka both did well after coming into the team against the Czech Republic – I liked the way they were so positive on the ball, and always turned and ran at defenders.

But Phil Foden will be back in contention to face Germany after being left out against the Czechs because he was on a yellow card, and Mason Mount will be available because his self-isolation ends the night before the game.

So, Southgate has got some big decisions to make, although I still look at his different options as being a good problem to have.

Overall, we played very well in the first half of our win over the Czech Republic, although we were a bit flat after the break.

Despite that, we didn’t concede and we won comfortably. On top of that it was important Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson both got some minutes, because they are going to play a big part from this point onwards.

Maguire played the full game on Tuesday and he made us look like a better a team all-round – not only was he solid defensively, he also got us on the front foot with some of his forward passing – he was fizzing the ball into Harry Kane, which was really good to see.

We need more from set-pieces too

John Stones hits the post for England against Scotland

One of the areas we did really well at in Russia at the 2018 was set-pieces – nine of the 12 goals we scored came from them.

We haven’t really got going on that front yet this time around – John Stones hit the post from a corner against Scotland but that is the closest we’ve come to scoring from a dead-ball situation.

With the quality we have got, though, I feel like that could change at any time.

Hopefully Tuesday night is when it all comes together for us, but I’m not worried that we won’t be able to get a goal if we really need one.

Alan Shearer was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

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