Tense Wembley first-half fails to dampen England supporters’ enthusiasm
England’s carnival atmosphere prevailed despite a tense opening 45 minutes against Germany at Wembley.
The away side dominated the early proceedings as England struggled for a foothold in the match before exerting some pressure of their own.
There were 40,000 supporters inside the stadium, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their seven-year-old son Prince George, with many wearing the colours of the home nation.
Other famous faces included former Three Lions skipper David Beckham, and musician Ed Sheeran.
Outside, in designated fan zones, pub beer gardens and parks, fans gasped and held their heads in their hands as both sides traded blows in a scoreless first-half of few real clear chances.
Fans watching the game from screens in London’s Trafalgar Square at half-time said they felt the team needed a shake-up to ensure an England win.
Charlie Sankey, 22, a placement student, told the PA news agency: “(England manager Gareth) Southgate needs to change the formation.
“We’ve not been dominated, but we can dominate them. We need to change our line up.”
Oscar Lopez, 21, a student also watching from Trafalgar Square, said he was nervous as the game marched on.
“It’s very tense,” he told PA. “There’s way too much on our shoulders but we need to step up to the aspect of it.
“If it goes to extra time, no one knows what’s going to happen, it’s no man’s land.
“We can’t bank on extra time to win.”
Under grey north-London skies, throngs of supporters headed to the match to belt out acapella renditions of England anthems, including the enduring crowd favourite Three Lions, with its familiar refrain of “football’s coming home” reverberating down Wembley Way.
Some supporters, eager to soak up the atmosphere inside the ground, took their seats more than two hours before the match started.
Not everyone was able to watch the game, however, as a vehicle fire on the M62 in Greater Manchester on Tuesday resulted in gridlock and delays of at least two hours.
Many England supporters were not born the last time England faced Germany in the European Championships.
Back then, before a bumper Wembley crowd at the Euro 1996 semi-final stage, England’s quest for silverware ended in disappointment as defender Gareth Southgate saw his sudden-death penalty saved, and Germany advanced to the final.
Pubs swelled with supporters wearing replica football strips in the hours leading up to the 5pm kick-off, while St George flags billowed in the mid-summer breeze as die-hard and fairweather fans alike got into the feel-good spirit.
The hopeful disposition of England supporters has been boosted by an unbeaten, if unspectacular, canter through the group stages of the competition without conceding a goal.
And with the likes of France, the Netherlands and reigning European champions Portugal already eliminated, commentators have suggested England’s path to major tournament success for the first time in 55 years has rarely been easier.
The undisputed high-water mark of the England men’s team’s history – the 1966 World Cup triumph – came against West Germany.
Should England manage to beat Germany, they will face either Sweden or Ukraine in the quarter-finals.
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