England v Germany: Football-divided couples prepare for relationship stress test

German-English couples face a relationship test on Tuesday night as the two nations reignite their footballing rivalry in the last 16 of Euro 2020.

James Crabb, from Rustington, West Sussex, has been with his 39-year-old wife Yvonne Leopold, an employer branding manager originally from Leipzig, since 2005, and they will be watching the match at home in Berlin with family and friends.

“It will be mostly Englanders… we’ll outnumber the Germans on their own soil,” Mr Crabb, a 41-year-old marketing director, told the PA news agency.

“For now we have refrained from decorating our balconies with flags… I don’t want to be the laughing stock when I have to remove them from view after the game.”

Despite living in the German capital since 2013, the couple’s two boys, aged three and eight, have “no choice” but to support England, according to their father.

“They don’t have a choice… at least at club level they are automatic Tottenham fans and at international level they are definitely exposed to more England games than Germany games,” Mr Crabb said.

“They also have a good opinion of England from visits and holidays… so for them England are the favourites – but I think they realise who the smart money should be on.”

Mr Crabb said his sons ‘don’t have a choice’ over which teams they support (James Crabb)
Mr Crabb said his sons ‘don’t have a choice’ over which teams they support (James Crabb)

Asked how previous clashes between the two sides have gone, Mr Crabb said: “Badly, because I am a bigger football fan than her, so when we lose she thinks it’s funny to take the mickey.

“She says she’s not going to be bothered, but I think like most Germans she’s just confident of winning.”

Adam Cox lives in Bournemouth with his 37-year-old wife Janina Cox, a council officer from Brackenheim in southern Germany.

“I think we’re both expecting our side to lose – this is likely defence from the other one gloating if their team win,” the 38-year-old doctor, originally from Swindon, told PA.

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“Neither of us are particularly good winners when it’s England vs Germany – definitely schadenfreude describes how it sits between us both!”

The couple have two girls aged one and four, who Dr Cox expects to have split allegiances.

“The girls, we’ve always said, get to support Germany for football and England for rugby – felt it was more likely to see their team win,” he added.

Dr Cox said he and his wife’s footballing rivalry is a hot topic on their family and friends’ WhatsApp groups.

“We almost get more excitement from those around us asking how we’re finding the build-up than from between ourselves,” he added.