Germany legend Lothar Matthaus says both England and Germany have not found the ‘”team spirit” to win Euro 2020 as talented players alone will not be enough.
Matthaus, Germany’s most-capped player of all time, captained his country to victory in the 1990 World Cup and was in the team that won Euro 1980.
He is widely regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of all time, and certainly knows what it takes to win trophies.
On the way to that 1990 victory, Matthaus scored from the spot as Germany beat England on penalties, before they defeated Argentina in the final.
Before the teams meet for yet another knockout game, at Wembley on Tuesday, Matthaus told Sky Sports: “Both teams have great players but haven’t yet found the team spirit that you need to win a European Championship title.
“I respect the English team a lot. They have very good players. They play for the best teams in the world – Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, wow.
“But players alone are not enough.
“You need a good team, like the Italian team at this moment – they can change every single game but they have played very well this European Championship. No big names, but they are playing like a team. Also Sweden, they play like a team.
“England and Germany, they miss the connection between the defence and the offence and the midfield. Something with these two teams is missing. But they know what they have to do now. They don’t get a second chance, this is now a final game.”
Both in that 1990 meeting and again at Euro 96, Germany came out on top after spot-kicks. The potential for another shoot-out is often brought up ahead of this fixture, and Matthaus knows history favours his nation.
His prediction? “I think this will be extra-time, a penalty shootout, and Germany will win again – this is the story in Germany and in England,” he said.
“We are on the same level, we have a draw, after the draw it comes to penalty kicks, and then Germany win. This is a nice story for me again. We like this story in Germany.”
However, he said if England do manage to muster that team spirit and secure the win, they could be back at Wembley on July 11.
“The winner of this game is for sure the favourites on this side [of the draw] to go to the final,” he added. “I respect all the other teams, but when I see the players and I see which teams are playing under which coaches, I think the quality of England and Germany is higher.”
‘Muller is a special player, Germany should fear Sterling the most’
Although it takes a team to win a tournament, players can win games. Among a group of talented German players in the Euro 2020 squad, Matthaus picked out Thomas Muller as the man who makes the team tick.
“Thomas Muller can be dangerous for each and every team,” he said. “Club team, national team, Muller is a special player.
“He may not have the technique like (Lionel) Messi or like (Kai) Havertz, but he is special for this team and he is special on the field. He makes things happen that you wouldn’t believe before.
“You cannot follow his runs, his movements – he is always in the right position. For me, Muller can be very dangerous not only England, but for each other team too.”
While Muller could be a handful for England, Matthaus said the player who Germany should fear is the man who has scored both of England’s goals so far.
“I thought before the tournament (Raheem) Sterling can be the big star,” he said. “If England go to the final, he can be the big star of the team.
“We see he’s scored the goals. England didn’t score so many [in the group stages] – but they have someone who knows how to score.
“He was not happy at the end of the season at Manchester City but I think now it’s a psychological thing for him to show the world: ‘who is Sterling?’.
“Sterling is one of the best players in England for me – Germany have to counter him.”
*Lothar Matthaus was speaking in association with Booking.com. New research from Booking.com shows that after over a year of COVID travel restrictions, 66 per cent of even the most dedicated German supporters would rather see their biggest rival, France win UEFA EURO 2020, than skip their next holiday.