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Declan’s massive chance

Declan Rice has a huge opportunity to make his mark on the European Championships next week when England take on Germany in the first knockout round.

Rice has started all three of England’s games thus far, the 1-0 wins over Croatia and the Czech Republic, and the absolutely dire 0-0 draw with Scotland.

Rice has only won a total of 20 caps for the Three Lions, scoring once, and he has only really played two European giants throughout his time playing for Gareth Southgate’s side. They have taken on Belgium twice, winning one and losing one, and the Netherlands, losing that in the Nations League.

A proper test comes in the form of the Germans in the last-16 of the Euros, a game that England will be desperate to win given their knockout history; they haven’t beaten a top team in a knockout game since 1996, when Spain were downed on penalties.

Winning the game would also allow England a favourable path towards the final; beating Germany will book a quarter-final against the winners of Sweden’s tie against Ukraine, and winning that would mean a semi-final against one of the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Wales and Denmark.

Rice will be out to assert his authority and control the midfield in a game against the old enemy, a team that England haven’t beaten at a tournament since Euro 2000 in a group game.

If he can do that, and help the Three Lions to a historic win, his stock will surely rise exponentially.

This is a major chance for Rice to finally prove his worth on the international stage, and take England through to the quarter-finals at the same time.

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About Dave Langton

A journalist with 10 years' experience of working on National newspapers, now chief reporter covering the club that I've loved since I was a boy. Upton Park remains the greatest football stadium ever built.