Germany and England headed into their final Nations League group match with little to play for, but everything to prove. England were already relegated and Germany had no chance to win the group — but for two teams with high ambitions and recent struggles at the upcoming 2022 Men’s World Cup, it was a chance to demonstrate their credentials and renew a classic European rivalry.
The result, a fiery 3-3 draw that roared to life in the second half — which featured all six goals — left both teams with something to hang their hats on coming out of the international break.
“There are a lot of positives we can take from the game,” Germany coach Hansi Flick said after the game, via DFB. “But some negatives too that we will have to address.”
For a while, it looked likely to be nothing but sweet vibes for the ascendant Germans — who won a penalty through the silky dribbling of young phenom Jamal Musiala, and shortly doubled their advantage via a wonder goal from Chelsea FC’s Kai Havertz. The Three Lions were being overrun.
But two big changes from England manager Gareth Southgate — Mason Mount (Chelsea) and Bukayo Saka (Arsenal FC) turned the tides instantly. Before long, Germany were down 3-2 through a penalty goal from Tottenham Hotspur striker and rumored Bayern Munich target Harry Kane. But that’s when the Germans showed it was not a collapse — merely a slugfest, with Havertz pouncing on a save forced by Serge Gnabry’s shot to restore parity.
“The team came back and equalized after conceding three quick goals,” said Flick (via @iMiaSanMia). “It was a good test.”
The drama didn’t quite stop there — a late chance saw the Germans push a little too aggressively for a winner, and Kane played Saka into the clear — with only Manchester City midfielder İlkay Gündoğan desperately trailing behind. It would require a heroic save from Marc-André ter Stegen (FC Barcelona), who has filled in admirably for Manuel Neuer (out with Covid) in the German goal, to keep it knotted.
Hansi Flick: "I'm absolutely convinced that once we finalize the squad and meet on 14 November, I'll go to the World Cup with a very positive feeling" [@AZ_Strasser]— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) September 26, 2022
The Germany contingent — five Bayern players remaining among them — will now be able to return to Munich feeling good that their national team have found their shooting boots once again, and hoping to translate that to their also goal-weary club. But — as is likewise the case in Bavaria — there will be some real moments of defensive frailty to ponder along the way.
It could have been better. But it could also have been a lot worse. At this juncture of the season? We’ll take it!
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