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England-Germany an epic but neither are World Cup favourites



LONDON — England rallied from two goals down before drawing 3-3 with Germany in a thrilling UEFA Nations League group stage match on Monday that saw all six goals come in the second half.

Second-half goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Kai Havertz looked to have Germany on their way to victory at Wembley, but Luke Shaw and Mason Mount levelled the score in a span of five minutes. VAR then awarded England a penalty, which Harry Kane converted to give the home side a brief lead, before Havertz tucked away his second of the night to reach the final scoreline.

Shaw’s goal broke a 565-minute open-play scoring drought for Gareth Southgate’s side, who were relegated to the competition’s second tier following last week’s loss at Italy. The draw keeps England on a six-game competitive winless streak, the third time in its history (1958, 1925-27) with such a mark.

For England, Monday’s game was their final test ahead of the start of their World Cup campaign on Nov. 21 against Iran. Germany have one more pre-World Cup friendly against Oman on Nov. 16 before their opener against Japan on Nov. 23.

JUMP TO: Player ratings | Best/worst performers | Highlights and notable moments | Post-match quotes | Key stats | Upcoming fixtures


Rapid Reaction

1. Neither England or Germany are World Cup favourites

England and Germany played out a thrilling 3-3 Nations League draw at Wembley, but it was game that left us with more questions than answers about two of the favourites to win the World Cup in Qatar. Can either of them defend well enough to all the way? Probably not, judging by a second-half which saw all six goals scored — Ilkay Gundogan and Kai Havertz (2) for Germany, with Luke Shaw, Mason Mount and Harry Kane netting for England — as both sides threw away a match-winning lead.

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England went into the game without a win in five matches and having been relegated from the top tier of the Nations League, while Germany travelled to London on the back of home defeat against Hungary. So neither team have been displaying the form that suggests they can end the year as world champions. But while the defensive flaws of both sides were on show for all of their World Cup opponents to see, the second-half goal rush highlighted the potency of both sides if they are able to play to their strengths.

Even though they went into this game having failed to score from open play for 450 minutes, England have the players to score against any team and Germany felt the full force of their strike power in the closing stages. But no team can win a World Cup with a leaky defence, and England and Germany will find themselves below Brazil and France when it comes to the real favourites to emerge as champions in Qatar.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, more (U.S.)

2. Lack of control in centre of pitch will haunt England

England have one of the best attacking forces in the world, and it came to the fore in nearly pulling off a remarkable win, but the late fightback and eventual draw should not mask the problems that continue to haunt Gareth Southgate’s team.

If you fail to get the ball to Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and any of their other attacking talents, goalscoring is going to be a problem and the root cause of that for England is the woeful levels of creativity further back on the pitch. The central defensive-defensive midfield axis is where the best teams control games and dictate the tempo, but England just don’t possess the ability to do that against elite opponents like Germany.

Southgate’s starting back three (John Stones, Eric Dier and Harry Maguire) relied on Stones to bring the ball out the back, but the England version of Stones is not the same as the Manchester City version, who has world-class players like Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri in front of him. With England, the ball goes to Jude Bellingham or Declan Rice and, while both are top-quality box-to-box players, neither is yet good enough to control a game in the style of a Luka Modric or Marco Verratti — the two players who ended England’s hopes in the last two major tournaments with Croatia and Italy, respectively.

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So by being unable to control the ball in the centre of the pitch, England can’t get it forward to their forwards, leaving Kane and Co. starved of possession. Unfortunately for Southgate, there is no solution out there. Jack Grealish has the ball-playing quality and vision, but lacks the discipline to play in central midfield, while Jordan Henderson has leadership qualities and experience, but not the vision. It’s a recurring problem for England and one which will probably signal a World Cup exit against the first strong team they face in Qatar.

3. Germany’s keeper depth can be crucial

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen made only his 29th appearance for Germany at Wembley, with the Barcelona goalkeeper only starting in Monday’s game and last Friday’s loss to Hungary because regular No. 1 Manuel Neuer was force to quarantine with COVID-19. Bayern Munich keeper Neuer has dominated the position over the past decade for Germany, winning 113 caps and keeping Ter Stegen on the bench for the majority of that period. Eintracht Frankfurt’s Kevin Trapp has won just six caps, despite a lengthy spell as Paris Saint-Germain’s first-choice.

Against England, Ter Stegen made a series of crucial saves in the first-half to keep the scores level before Germany opened up a 2-0 lead early in the second half. And although he would have expected to do better to keep out Luke Shaw’s close range goal before Mason Mount’s unstoppable equaliser and Harry Kane’s penalty, Ter Stegen showed in this game that Hansi Flick’s side has incredible depth in the goalkeeping department. Only Brazil, with Alisson Becker and Ederson, could claim to have depth in that position as strong as Germany at Qatar 2022 and Hansi Flick’s options in goal could be crucial to the country’s hopes of a fifth world title later this year.


Player ratings

England: Eddie Pope 5; Reece James 5, John Stones 5, Eric Dier 6, Harry Maguire 5, Luke Shaw 8; Jude Bellingham 7, Declan Rice 6; Phil Foden 6, Harry Kane 7, Rahee Sterling 5.

Subs: Kyle Walker 6, Mason Mount 7, Bukayo Saka 7.

Germany: Marc-Andre Ter Stegen 7, Thilo Kehrer 6, Niklas Sule 6, Nico Schlotterback 6, David Raum 6; Ilkay Gundogan 7, Joshua Kimmich 7, Jonas Hofmann 6, Jamal Musiala 6, Leroy Sane 6; Kai Havertz 8.

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Subs: Timo Werner 6, Robin Gosens 6, Serge Gnabry 7.


Best and worst performers

BEST: Luke Shaw, England.

All of the recent focus has been on Southgate’s decision to select Maguire, despite the Manchester United captain losing his first-team place at Old Trafford. Shaw has had a similar fall from grace at club level, but the United left-back was outstanding against Germany and even scored a goal for good measure.

WORST: Raheem Sterling, England.

England had a number of poor displays, including Pope, Maguire and James, but Sterling looked way off the pace up-front, with his awareness and passing nowhere near their usual levels.


Highlights and notable moments

Kai Havertz completed his brace with this beauty.

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Moments before, it was Harry Kane with international goal no. 51, just two behind Wayne Rooney as England’s all-time leading scorer.


After the match: What the players and managers said

England’s Harry Kane, to Channel 4: “We’re going to have to be ready come the start of the [World Cup] tournament. Major football tournament is different to any other football you play for England. The pressure is high and the concentration has to be high and I feel like we respond well to that.”

Kane on his 51st goal, now two behind Wayne Rooney on England’s all-time list: “It was nice to score obviously. There always seems to be a few pressure penalties here at Wembley but it was nice to see that one go in and just a shame we couldn’t get the win but we keep going.”


Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

– Luke Shaw’s goal snapped England’s 342-minute scoreless drought (565 minutes in open play).

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– Harry Kane has cored in all four career appearances vs. Germany (4 goals). He is also second player to score in four straight games against Germany, joining Hungary’s Imre Schlosser who accomplished the feat from 1909-1912.

– The last time these two teams played a 3-3 draw? Their first ever match, back in 1930 in a friendly in Berlin.


Up next

England: It’s the real deal now for the Three Lions. The World Cup group-stage opener against Iran on Nov. 21, followed by the United States (Nov. 25) and Wales (Nov. 29).

Germany: One more friendly at Oman on Nov. 16 before the short jump over to Qatar, where Japan (Nov. 23), Spain (Nov. 27), and Costa Rica (Dec. 1) await Die Mannschaft.





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