Nations League – League A / Group 3: Germany-England, a duel with real stakes

Almost a year later, to the day, the old enemies meet again. England-Germany is always an international poster that is carefully scrutinized, as it is steeped in history. The latest episode was this confrontation at Wembley, June 29, 2021, in the round of 16 of the Euro. Gareth Southgate’s side cruised through the 2014 world champion nation, with a 2-0 victory in front of an ecstatic home crowd, marking the end of Joachim Low’s era at the helm of the Nationalmannschaft.
This Tuesday (8:45 p.m., to follow LIVE commented), on the occasion of the second day of the League of Nations in group 3 of League A, the teammates of Joshua Kimmich have the opportunity to take their revenge, and to show that after 15 years under the rule of Löw and results unworthy of Germany at the last international deadlines (with elimination in the first round of the 2018 World Cup), the four-time world champion team knows new life.

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Germany still in search of a benchmark victory

In the results, this was rather the case in the first months of the takeover by the former coach of Bayern Munich. With 7 victories in as many qualifying matches and the first ticket gleaned from the field for the World Cup, Germany has seduced, certainly against opponents (Armenia, Liechtenstein, Romania, North Macedonia, Iceland) who have not enough to worry anyone claiming the supreme title.

With a structure almost unchanged from the team that ended Joachim Löw’s term (six of the starting players at Wembley last June were also in the last match against Italy), he was not more surprising to see Germany, which, when invited, has always qualified for the World Cup, perpetuating the old traditions. But after the series of 8 victories obtained, a record for the debut of a German coach, the atmosphere slightly cooled around the semi-finalists of Euro 2016 when the road rose.

This match was not at the level of our ambitions. (…) We have more quality than that

After the friendly draw against the Netherlands (1-1) in March, the much more disappointing performance on Saturday against Italy (1-1), admittedly reigning European champions but who did not managed to qualify for the football high mass at the end of the year, raised some doubts. “This match was not at the level of our ambitions. We lacked intensity, coordination, also in defense (…). We have more quality than that, we also lacked the precision”so sorry Flick, joined by the striker of the day, Joshua Kimmich: “Whether we deserve to win or not, it’s too little for us. We knew that Italy was in the midst of renewal, so we really wanted to win, but we didn’t know how to raise our level on the pitch”regretted the midfielder of Bayern.

For our neighbors across the Rhine, this match against the 5th nation Fifa will therefore serve as a springboard to affirm its ambitions for the Qatari adventure which is looming in November. Especially since the last time the two teams met in Munich, the English had inflicted a bitter 5-1 on their hosts. Another revenge to take, in short.

We have to try to find the balance between seeing new things, testing players and trying to win

On the English side, after the lost final of the Euro, the Three Lions have rebounded well, with six victories in 8 qualifying matches. But the defeat conceded on Saturday against Hungary (1-0), the first against this nation since 1962, underlined the recurring problems of this selection, in particular its offensive animation considered to be faulty.

“During these four (Nations League) matches, we have to try to find the balance between seeing new things, testing players and trying to win. Maybe today I didn’t find the good balance”regretted Gareth Southgate after the meeting, where his 3-4-3 established for a year did not work.

Talent in front, but too few confirmations on the English side

With Harry Kane at the forefront, and a string of offensive talents (Mount, Grealish, Saka, not to mention Foden, absent on Tuesday because positive for Covid-19), the coach, despite the unprecedented result gleaned last year, is always under pressure. Not enough to reassure the Germans, according to Ilkay Gundogan in a pre-match press conference: “I expect an extremely strong opponent who has many quality players. We accept this challenge with pleasure”said the midfielder who plays for Manchester City, in a Premier League where many of his compatriots thrive.

In this confrontation, where England is historically neck and neck with its rival (15 wins to 14 for Germany and 4 draws, counting only the results of West Germany), Southgate and his players are also looking for answers and a bit of serenity. Without forgetting, too, the race for first place in the group, for the moment dominated by Hungary, therefore. This shock, which rarely disappoints, therefore promises a good fight.

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