Millions of football fans are preparing to watch England take on old rivals Germany for a place in the quarter finals of Euro 2020 – with bosses being urged to let workers finish early so they can cheer on the team.
England manager Gareth Southgate has called on his players to make history, as the Three Lions seek to beat the Germans in the knockout stages of a major tournament for the first time since 1966.
More than 40,000 fans will be at Wembley for the last-16 game, which kicks off at 5pm and could end in a dreaded penalty shoot-out if the sides cannot be separated after 90 minutes and extra time.
Companies have been encouraged to be flexible with working hours so their employees can watch the match, as England seek to avenge knockout defeats by Germany in 2010, 1996 and 1990 (and by West Germany in 1970).
More than one in five UK employees work evenings and weekends and Frances O’Grady, general secretary at the Trades Union Congress (TUC), said bosses should try to let staff who want to watch Euro 2020 games do so, “either at work or at home and then claim back their time afterwards”.
The Wembley crowd, which will be the biggest at the stadium since the start of the pandemic, will be dominated by England fans, with Germany on the government’s amber travel list, meaning supporters arriving into the country have to quarantine for up to 10 days.
England fan Graham Renwick, who has a ticket for the match, told Sky News: “We’ve definitely got the team to beat Germany. I think we have as good a chance as we’ve ever had to make it the final.
“My heart is saying we can do it and we can get to the final – but there is this mentality point with the Germans, and they have beaten us on a number of big occasions, so it’s going to be a tough one.
“But 40,000 people at Wembley, all getting behind them – I think we can do it this time.
“To have the chance to sing It’s Coming Home with 40,000 people after beating the Germans in a major tournament, you can’t get a better atmosphere than that – so let’s hope we do it.”
More than five million pints are expected to be drunk across England during the game, a million fewer than if there were no COVID restrictions, according to a pub trade body.
Under current coronavirus rules in England, pubgoers can gather in groups of six – or two households of any size – while groups of up to 30 people are allowed when seated outside.
The British Beer and Pub Association hopes eight million pints will be sold on Tuesday, with 5.25 million of those served during the England-Germany game.
Millions of bets will be placed on the match, with more punters putting money on England winning than Germany, according to the industry.
Coral spokesman David Stevens said Tuesday’s game is expected to be the busiest match for betting since England faced Croatia in the 2018 World Cup.
Odds on England winning on penalties were set at 12-1 – but Germany inflicting more penalty heartache has equal odds, according to Coral.
Former England defender Gary Neville has called on the current players to seize their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity against Germany.
The Sky Sports pundit suffered a painful defeat to Germany at Wembley in the semi-finals of Euro 96, when current England boss Southgate missed a penalty in the shoot-out.
Neville told Sky Sports: “What I’d say to these lads on Tuesday is this moment isn’t coming back. This is it.
“We didn’t create history in Euro 96, we fell short. Don’t fall short on Tuesday, lads.
“What an opportunity exists if we beat Germany on Tuesday.”
The winner of England versus Germany will play either Sweden or Ukraine in the quarter-finals.