Former Manchester United and England captain Bryan Robson believes Harry Maguire can help the Three Lions overcome Germany at Wembley, with the defensive organisation being a big plus for Gareth Southgate.
Robbo starred at the 1988 European Championship for his country, scoring a memorable goal against eventual winners the Netherlands, but the Three Lions were unable to reach the semi-finals. This time around, the Old Trafford legend hopes England can go all the way to the Euro 2020 final, and is predicting a big date with Belgium at Wembley next month.
Of course, the first major obstacle comes in the shape of old rivals Germany, and nobody is underestimating the huge challenge posed by Joackim Low’s side.
Watch our exclusive matchday interview with Bryan Robson.
As speculation mounts that Southgate will opt to play five at the back – Maguire and his United team-mate Luke Shaw plus Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker and John Stones – Robson feels the understanding between some of those individuals can prove crucial in nullifying Germany’s considerable threat.
“This is why you’re a player – for games like this in a major tournament,” Bryan told us in an exclusive interview on Tuesday morning.
“It’s always a massive game against Germany. I do think England have got a chance, even though Germany have sometimes just had that hold over England over the years. But I don’t think this is one of the strongest German sides in a competition I’ve seen. I think there are a few weaknesses there and, hopefully, with England’s energy levels, if they’ve got the belief, then I think we’ve got a great chance of progressing. If they can be mentally strong in the game and believe in themselves, I do think we can definitely beat the Germans.
“It’s great to see Harry Maguire back fit and I thought he played really well in the last game. Luke came in for [Ben] Chilwell and I think he played pretty well too. So hopefully the two of them do play and I can’t see any reason why Gareth can’t do that because I think it’s a good set-up with Walker and Stones, who know each other really well from Manchester City, and Harry and Luke for United, who work really well.
“I think it’s got a lovely balance to it, whether they go for a back-four or a back-five. The balance of that looks really good and an understanding between the players is helpful. Also, Harry Kane hasn’t fired at the moment but this is a great opportunity for him now to hopefully have his best game in the competition so far and go on and lead by example and win the game for us.”
Southgate revealed recently that he has noticed a change in Maguire since the centre-back was handed the armband at United, and this is something Robson can appreciate after leading club and country with distinction for such a long period.
Harry’s vocal presence on the field has become obvious to all attending matches behind closed doors during the pandemic and this seemed to take some observers almost by surprise, as he regularly barked out orders, cajoling and instructing his colleagues.
“I can [understand Southgate’s comments],” said Robson. “I think Harry was always captain material when he came into the club. He’s a great reader of the game and good on the ball. He’s so dominant in the air and he’s a centre-half so he can see everything in front of him. I think what Harry has realised even more since he came into this club is he’s got to organise and you want quite a few captains in your team who are organising people around them because that’s part of being a captain.
“I think Harry has got better at that since he’s been at the club and he’s got the confidence to do it. That’s an important factor as well, being a captain, you’ve got to have the confidence to say what you’re saying to the lads, organising them and believing what you’re saying is right for the team. I think Harry has developed with that.
“That’s the only thing which has been good about fans not being able to go to matches – you do find out quite a lot about the players because you can hear what everyone is shouting on the pitch. They’ve had to motivate themselves really to get the results you need in football and you can see who has the organisational skills within their game. Harry definitely has that. He’s come on leaps and bounds.
“We [England] have got a few leaders. I don’t know if [Jordan] Henderson will actually play tonight but I just think, with Henderson, and Kane up front, you’ve got lads who are leaders and captains and can organise so hopefully that all comes together in having a really good performance tonight.”
Bryan Robson celebrates his fine goal at Euro 88 with Gary Lineker.
When it comes to making a prediction for the final on Sunday 11 July, our iconic former no.7 admits he was surprised to see favourites France fall to Switzerland on Monday night.
He believes Belgium are strong contenders to emerge from that half of the draw and hopes England can squeeze past Germany and go all the way to set up what would be an incredible occasion at Wembley.
“Right at the start, I said France and Belgium and I thought the French defensively, when they were 3-1 up, they should have been able to manage the game against Switzerland and win it,” added Bryan. “Now France are out, Belgium are on the one side and I think Belgium or Spain will progress on that side and go through.
“I think if England can beat the Germans tonight, then I think we’ve got a great chance of getting to the final. So I’m looking at it at the moment and hope it’s a Belgium versus England final and I really believe we can do that if we win tonight.”