There was a more spectacular ending awaiting Gareth Southgate here at Wembley until that moment when a goalkeeper he may never select again dropped a shot, although from deep in the black hole that engulfed England at times on this night, it ended up like some kind of revival.
Maybe Southgateism will not last longer than Qatar 2022 and a World Cup finals that already feels like it could become anything for these players and this manager – but still, they had this. A comeback of three goals in 12 minutes in the second half against Germany in front of a Wembley crowd that never turned on their team. Whatever has gone before over this deadly run of the summer and autumn, Southgate’s players proved themselves capable of something surprising, and not a little captivating.
There were, of course, mistakes. Not least Nick Pope’s clanger that gave Kai Havertz his second goal of the night and Germany’s equaliser. Harry Maguire stumbled through the crucial moments again, a footballer who is simply struggling at the moment – but many of these things Southgate will already have known in his heart. What he needed to see again from his players was the drive that can turn a match on its head and confound the expectation of those who say this England team are finished before this World Cup even starts.
He got it with a brilliant comeback, led by his two substitutes, Bukayo Saka, and Mason Mount who came on shortly before Germany went into a two-goal lead. From Luke Shaw’s first, and then Mount’s fine second goal with Saka assisting, Harry Kane’s penalty took England clear with seven minutes left. It was as if the crowd had been waiting for them, resisting the chance to boo Southgate or Maguire. Instead, once England started to play Wembley just picked up where it left off back in March when this side were still winning games.
That did not change when, inevitably, England could not hold their lead. They are vulnerable, that is clear – but they never committed the ultimate crime of being dull. Defensively they played with five at the back for much of the night and lost John Stones to injury, which may yet bequeath a damaging legacy for Qatar. Yet for all that this felt, for a short period, like an England that hit their stride, took risks, and turned a game.
In June at Molineux against Hungary the home crowd unleashed their rage on Southgate before the worst of the damage was done. Yet this time there seemed a mood of bemused forbearance. This was not an outstanding Germany side and they took the lead with a couple of bad England errors. The 19-year-old Jamal Musiala, the lost boy of England’s junior teams, was Germany's best player and when he came off at 2-2, Germany were less dangerous without him.
The steady return to international football of Eric Dier has been one of the small triumphs of this break. Also, Southgate seemed reassured by the crowd. He was right that his side had the better chances in the first half and failed to take them. In that period, England were essentially once again two distinct parts: the seven men and a goalkeeper defending deeper and deeper, and then the attacking three trying to drive them forward.
The trident of Kane, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling created chances: a Foden cross that inexplicably was played behind Kane, and Shaw’s fine ball to Sterling that lacked the finish. The attacking three often operate in isolation and the formation does not allow for the second wave of attack that might overwhelm the opposition. England’s biggest problem was when goalkeeper Pope had the ball at his feet and Germany sensed it too, hunting him down at every opportunity.
In the absence of that playmaking midfield pivot, about whom Southgate often speaks longingly, there was a fine performance from Jude Bellingham driving his team on. The two German goals provided the adversity that Southgate would afterwards talk about extensively, even saying that these were the experiences his team needed. “You are going to have pressure at a tournament,” he reflected, “you can avoid it, but it’s coming.”
It came over ten minutes beginning before the hour, first when Var correctly directed the Dutch referee Danny Makkelie over to the monitor just six minutes in to have another think about his leniency for a Maguire lunge at Musiala in the area. The embattled Manchester United man gave it away with a loose pass to the young German, found the ball slipped through his legs in the aftermath and then responded with the foul.
In the moments after Ilkay Gundogan scored with a confident penalty, England were wobbling. With Maguire having lost the ball in German territory, the substitute Timo Werner came down the left and Havertz shrewdly stayed out of an England box that was filling with players. He received the ball in space and shaped a lovely left foot shot around Pope and in off his post. Here was the pressure. Southgate later discussed how his players had responded in the days that preceded the game, with squad meetings away from the staff and what he saw as strong leadership from senior players.
Inthis bleakest of moments, there was a strength of character and the Wembley crowd played their part. Southgate joked that Shaw’s volley at the back post, as Germany ran out of men to cover, reminded players and fans what it felt like to score a goal. From then the old longing for a Wembley win over an old adversary took over. There was a drive from Saka that found Mount and a brilliant first-time right-foot finish on the run. The third was another Var intervention for Nico Schlotterbeck’s lunge at Bellingham and Kane drove the penalty in.
At 3-2, England should have won but Pope dropped a straightforward shot from the substitute Serge Gnabry and Havertz had his second. It is still six games for England without a win, the worst run since 1993, but in spite of it all: this felt like something.
England 3 Germany 3: as it happened
Where does it leave Gareth?
Lucky general? Able to inspire? Tactically hopeless? If we were reading racing form, we might call this a muddling race. Fair to say that England showed some bottle, but some individual howlers. Presumably Pope and Maguire won't do that every match, right? Right guys? Who knows. Personally I think the real problem Gareth has got is that he wants to play defensive but England are really only any good when they're having a go. Anyway, I'll leave it to the experts, and Sam Wallace's report will now appear in full above. From me, Alan Tyers, and the rest of the Telegraph Sport team, thanks for following and see you for the next one.
Here is Jason Burt on Harry Maguire
Jason writes: "For Gareth Southgate this was the performance he desperately did not need from Harry Maguire even if the Jude Bellingham-inspired comeback that then followed dragged England to a draw. Having pinned his hopes on the central defender Southgate will surely look through his fingers as he reviews Maguire’s part in giving away two goals against Germany and also just how shockingly shredded his confidence is."
Harry Kane's mighty penalty
Here is Oliver Brown
Oliver writes: "A send-off to a World Cup is typically a loose, carefree affair, marked by a freewheeling England win against hand-picked cannon fodder at the height of summer. But the sheer disruptive force of Qatar 2022, coupled with the home side’s six-month catalogue of tactical ineptitude, ensured that this prelude felt different. The autumn leaves were turning brown, the scar of Nations League relegation was still raw, and the ferocity of fans’ blowback had left Gareth Southgate in desperate need of a reprieve. Rarely could he have imagined it would be delivered amid such glorious chaos."
on the BBC. "Cut out the individual mistakes and you have got a chance of winning. We have definitely got a chance in Qatar.
"Mason Mount and Bukayo Saka came on and made a difference. Credit to them because you can be tense and annoyed when you come on. Mason Mount has given the manager something to think about. That is the quality he brings."
"As a group they have come together this week. Tough period. Grown. You're always going to face pressure."
He compares this favourably, as a learning experience, to playing a ten-men Ivory Coast and coasting to an easy win. That's fair comment I would say.
"This week we’ve learned a huge amount. Tonight a couple of errors have cost us the goals, but I focused on the fact they played with tremendous spirit and showed a belief that we haven’t showed in the last few games. I think the crowd could see that, and they rose to it."
More reactions from around the football world
David James: "What a fantastic match between England and Germany. Six goals and moments of brilliance. The referee and use of VAR was spot on too."
Joe Cole: "The result was not that important. This performance gives us something to hold onto and be positive about for Qatar."
For those as follow it
That concludes the Nations League group. England finished bottom of their four-team league and are relegated. Hungary, who had been the story of the group, were beaten by Italy, who pip them to first place and go through to the finals next year. Where they can win that lovely cutlery set and be entered in a prize draw.
Joe Cole on Channel 4
"The thing about Harry Maguire is that he has done really well for England in the past at big tournaments."
Should he stay or should he go?
Reactions coming through
Paul Hayward writes: "Verdict from Wembley. For 23 minutes the England of Euro 2020 returned. Turned a 0-2 into a 3-2, only for Pope to commit heresy. Maguire's position untenable. Mount superb after coming on. June-Sept slump wasn't terminal. But they'll need to play as they did from minutes 67-90."
Gary Lineker: "When England are forced into playing to their strengths (attacking), they look a good side. When they play to cover their weaknesses (defending), they look a poor side."
Daniel Brigham: "Whether you hate, love or are on the fence about Southgate, that performance vindicates all three opinions. Uniting the country once again."
John Nicholson: "OK so drop Maguire and Pope and we win that 3 -0
Harry Kane's pen
Find it and watch if if you can. That's how you do it. He truly smashed it, and there was a roar of pent-up, released frustration.
Here Harry is speaking to Channel 4:
“We’re playing Germany at Wembley, no matter what the competition, that’s always a big game and obviously the boys have been under a bit of pressure, we’ve all been under a bit of pressure with the recent results and we’ve all come out here today with a bit of a point to prove,” Kane said.
“Of course there’s lessons we could still learn, mistakes that were made, but we scored three goals and I feel like this has put us in a positive mindset going forward now.
“I thought we played a lot better tonight. We were unfortunate to go two goals behind, obviously a mistake and then a great goal from the edge of the box. [But we] done really well to stay in the game, and then get back into the lead, and then unfortunately another error.
“But the fight in the team and the energy in the team that we showed today, we didn’t get the win but we can be proud with what we’ve done and I think it puts us in a good place before the World Cup.”
“We’re going to have to be ready come the start of the tournament,” Kane added. “Major tournament football is completely different to any other that you play with England. The pressure’s high, the concentration needs to be high, every moment counts.
“I feel like we’ve coped with that well at the two major tournaments in the past and we’ve upped our game as we’ve gone a long. So we dust ourselves down, we know we have to improve and there’s not much time with England now before we play our first game. We just have to go away with our clubs, hopefully everyone goes away fit and strong and is ready to come back in November."
Full time: England 3 Germany 3
The crowd have surely had their money's worth. What do we learn from it all?
Well, first, let's get to our player ratings.
90+ mins: England 3 Germany 3
There is a minute left to play. Maguire picks out James, who finds Saka down the right. Into Mount in the centre but there's a foul be England. Saka and James have looked a dangerous combo down the right.
That's going to be it.
90+ mins: England 3 Germany 3
Germany marshal well a handy attack from England. Few tackles coming in, few German guys staying down.
90+ mins: England 3 Germany 3
Germany are playing it around and look like they are happy to settle.
90+ mins: England 3 Germany 3
There are six minutes added on. The Germans are the side with the ball at the moment. Southgate gave Bellingham a massive hug as he came off. Another very fine performance and I am pretty sure he will be in the XI for the first game.
90 mins: England 3 Germany 3
Henderson is brought on for Bellingham.
89 mins: England 3 Germany 3
... Bellingham to Kane, Kane gets his head up and plays one of those defence splitting passes that he often gives to Son for Spurs. Saka races onto it, has plenty of time, hits the low shot... but the keeper tips it wide.
88 mins: England 3 Germany 3
Extraordinary few minutes of football. And it might get even more remarkable...
GOAL! England 3 Germany 3 (Havertz 87)
Germany come down the left, it's played to Serge Gnabry who tries a neither-here-nor-there shot at the keeper from distance. Nick Pope makes an error, and spills it. Havertz has a tap-in, and he makes no mistake.
86 mins: England 3 Germany 2
Another good challenge from Bellingham wins it. Kane powers down the left and does well to get a cross in.
85 mins: England 3 Germany 2
Mount has been excellent since he came on, full of life and running and threat.
GOAL! England 3 Germany 2 (Kane 83 pen)
Harry Kane SMASHES the ball into the top corner. That is how you take a penalty. Absolutely battered it. He goes wild. Gareth goes wild. Wembley goes wild. From 2-0 down to 3-2 up. Can they now hold on?
Matt Law: "3-2 - unbelievable shift in mood and momentum."
Enland get a penalty!
Terrible tackle from Schlotterbeck on Bellingham. Gets a yellow and could have had a red. High and dangerous.
Here is Harry Kane....
80 mins: England 2 Germany 2
England continue to pile it on... Kane in the area! Spins, shoots. Wide.
The ref is looking at that Bellingham challenge on VAR>
79 mins: England 2 Germany 2
Bellingham has been whacked on the edge of the penalty area and he is taking a while to get up.
78 mins: England 2 Germany 2
Bellingham, again having his say, plays it out to James who nearly, so nearly chips it over to Kane.
77 mins: England 2 Germany 2
England are up for this. Rice and Mount both flying into tackles.
75 mins: England 2 Germany 2
England sense their moment.
GOAL! England 2 Germany 2
England have done it again! Saka with some excellent work down the right, brings it inside, finds Mason Mount and smashes it past the keeper. Excellent strike.
Two goals in three minutes and five seconds.
73 mins: England 1 Germany 2
Delay of game for an injury to Kimmich, who seems to be okay.
GOAL! England 1 Germany 2 (Shaw 71)
Bellingham involved again, and Luke Shaw has managed to bundle one in at the far post! A scuffed shot, into the ground, through the keeper's legs. Bellingham got his head up, drove forward, out to the right wing where Saka and James combine well. Raking cross bypasses everyone, and Shaw has scuffed it in.
Matt Law writes: "We've scored a non-penalty goal! The 522-minute run is at an end."
70 mins: England 0 Germany 2
Any hope for England?
GOAL! England 0 Germany 2 (Havertz 68)
Sorry to recount, Maguire again the man who loses it. Werner carries it forward, intelligent play from him, does not panic and holds up the ball. Slips it inside to Havertz who curls a gorgeous shot at the goal with his left, and it's purred into the top corner. Pope dives high to his right but he's nowhere near that. England didn't close the shot down, aside from their other failings in that passage of play.
Matt Law writes: "Brilliant finish but that's another Maguire error - man not playing for his club, who hasn't played well in ages, with little confidence, makes two bad mistakes. Shock."
66 mins: England 0 Germany 1
England lose it in the centre of midfield and this looks dangerous....
65 mins: England 0 Germany 1
Foden comes off. Saka comes on. Mount comes on. Sterling comes off.
63 mins: England 0 Germany 1
England, through good work from James down the flank, have their fifth corner. Germany defend that well.
61 mins: England 0 Germany 1
Musiala with some wonderful footwork to skip away from three challenges and send Werner clear. Werner drags that wide. Should have done better.
Musiala looks a terrific young talent.
59 mins: England 0 Germany 1
Süle drives forward, neat one-two, and hits a low shot maybe two feet the wrong side of the post. Germany playing pretty well and arguably look the more likely to score the game's second goal.
57 mins: England 0 Germany 1
Another decent move for England ends with Bellingham being the one to shoot. No dice.
56 mins: England 0 Germany 1
England have a freekick for a foul on Rice.
55 mins: England 0 Germany 1
Nice bit of play from England as they hold it up down the right and slip it inside for Bellingham, who arrives perfectly onto the ball but hoofs it over.
53 mins: England 0 Germany 1
England, up the other end, want a penalty of their own for some sort of handball or contact on Bellingham, not entirely clear but they are not getting anything. Kane is leading the barracking of the ref.
GOAL! England 0 Germany 1 (Gundogan 52pen)
Passes it into the bottom corner. Pope goes the right way but is nowhere near it. A self-inflicted wound for England, who gave it away cheaply. Maguire himself the man who gave it away, panicked and then fouled.
51 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Ilkay Gundogan has the ball....
50 mins: England 0 Germany 0
That may or may not be in the minds of the officials as they now examine another incident. Musiala runs at Maguire, who looks ponderous and rooted as he fouls him. That looks a clear penalty. Var checks, and agrees.
49 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Werner making a nuisance of himself and it's lucky for England that The linesman has flagged for offside. Shaw playing him on, I think? Anyway.
48 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Foden and Sterling working well together, the former frees the latter who hits the target with his shot.
47 mins: England 0 Germany 0
That change seems to be suiting Germany, Werner on the ball and driving forward. Plenty of runners with him. Musiala gets it on the right and tries to pick out a colleague. England have men back.
46 mins: England 0 Germany 0
One change for Germany. Hofmann off. Werner is on.
The final 45 minutes of prep for the World Cup are here
It'll be alright on the night, I guess?
Matt Law's half time verdict
"England have now gone 495 minutes without scoring a non-penalty goal, but at least there were signs of life from the attackers in the first half against Germany. Raheem Sterling was denied by a good save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen, while Harry Kane volleyed a shot wide. But England were relying on hitting a lot of long balls after Nick Pope almost got caught out with the ball at his feet by Jamal Musiala.
Manager Gareth Southgate will be sweating over the extent of John Stones' hamstring injury that meant he had to be replaced by Kyle Walker. But that first-half was certainly better from England and hopefully they can be more clinical after the break."
Half time: England 0 Germany 0
England quite well organised in defence, breaking quite well on occasion, and looking short of confidence when it comes to the final ball or the shot. Germany no great shakes either. Anybody's game. Or a 0-0 draw.
44 mins: England 0 Germany 0
England back off Kimmich who wriggles this way and that before scuffing a shot not far wide. Pope had that covered I think.
42 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Kane and Sterling create a moment! Kane frees Raheem, who runs quick and direct at the goal, but probably takes the wrong option in shooting. Pretty simple save. Foden was there for the pass, but Germany had a few back to be fair, so....
40 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Sub Kyle Walker has gotten into the game quickly, it was he who won the ball to free Shaw just then. No harm meant to John Stones but perhaps a more mobile hybrid centre-back / full-back in the Walker mode is the way to go for England if they wish to play the back three?
38 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Foden delivers the corner and finds the massive forehead of Maguire - and indeed how could Phil miss it? But sadly Harry blonks that over/wide/ over and wide.
37 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Kehrer looks to have an engine on him, here is motoring back to deny Luke Shaw, who had made a more than handy break down the left.
34 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Raheem's former City colleague John Stones, however, has bigger problems. He looks like he has done a hamstring. Limping off with the physio.
Kyle Walker the man who comes on.
33 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Hofmann and Kehrer again combining well. Sterling looks a bit underpowered defensively.
30 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Sam Wallace: "The crowd behind Nick Pope's goal are singing about Harry Maguire in a complimentary fashion. He's had a decent half so far."
29 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Rice, whom I like as a player and a chap, seems far from his best and sort of drives forward before carefully playing a through ball to.... nobody. No England player anywhere near that.
Kehrer, down the German right, got forward well just now and Sterling tugged him down by the shirt. Ref gave, or saw, nothing.
27 mins: England 0 Germany 0
England terrier-like in midfield and Kane plays the ball through.... oh that's a shocking touch from Sterling. Ball pinballs off him embarrassingly.
26 mins: England 0 Germany 0
A good couple of minutes from the English, who have their opponents under pressure. Kane with a header. Half cleared, and Kane tries his luck with a speculative effort that floats not all that far wide. Trio of corners and England have the wind in their sails.
24 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Wonderful raking ball from Shaw takes three Germans out of the game and Sterling is through! He's got some company as he races at the goal and the defenders do just enough... keeper saves down low.
23 mins: England 0 Germany 0
After a scrappy few second when neither side seems able to hold onto it, Kane nearly bundles through but he loses it in turn. The Germans break, Hofmann plays a nice cross in, Havertz nods it back into das dangerareaschen but there is no German striker to do the business. A Muller, a Klinsmann, even a Klose is slotting that away no probs.
18 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Shaw with a dim-witted crossfield pass to a German opponent.
16 mins: England 0 Germany 0
James has got the wrong side of his German opponent Raum and fouled him, giving the visitors a very handily placed freekick about five yards outside the D, on the left of the goal as the striker looks at it.
Battered into the wall by Sane.
The ref hadn't spotted the foul, which was a sly one, and needed assistance from an eagle-eyed minion.
14 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Maguire with some decent defending, but/and Germany have another corner. England deal with it well.
I'm not saying it's England 1 Germany 0 in Charleroi in 2000, but neither of these sides playing like they belong at the very top table of international football right now.
11 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Pope, who is no great shakes with the ball at his feet, takes a cement mixer of a touch and then has to hoof under pressure from the German forward line. It goes to Gundogan, who has a shot from the edge of the box. Not great from Pope.
9 mins: England 0 Germany 0
As England break from that corner, Sterling tries to - and nearly does - find Foden.
8 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Sterling fails to prevent his German man from getting a cross in, and remonstrates with colleagues for not helping out. Dier had to head it behind for a corner, which England clear just fine.
7 mins: England 0 Germany 0
First moment of engagement for the crowd as Foden drives forward and lays it off to Kane, who floats a cross over that Foden and Sterling alike are nowhere near getting on.
Foden looked a bit short of confidence on that run, I thought. The pass he gave to Kane was neither one thing nor another.
6 mins: England 0 Germany 0
A lot of huff and puff but no actual football or incident as of yet.
5 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Here's Sam Wallace.
'He doesn't have a progressive player who can take the ball and dictate the play'@SamWallaceTel discusses the profile of Gareth Southgate's England squad LIVE from Wembley. 🏟️#TelegraphFootball #ENGGER
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) September 26, 2022
3 mins: England 0 Germany 0
England with some useful approach play as the get the ball out wide to Shaw, who is well advanced on the left. But Germany push them back.
2 mins: England 0 Germany 0
Players seem quite up for it. Schlotterbeck flies into a hard tackle on Kane. No foul.
1 mins: England 0 Germany 0
England pump a high ball forward. Harry Kane penalised for an arm up on Raum.
Here is Matt Law: "Harry Maguire's name was both cheered and booed by the Wembley crowd when it was read out ahead of kick-off. He'll probably be relieved the reaction was not worse."
Germany will kick off
England in that very peculiar kit of all red shirts, red shorts, and red shorts with black tops.
And now a minute's silence
in memory of the late Queen Elizabeth II.
God Save The King
One of the world's great national anthems
Germany's. Booed by a few morons as you'd expect but I've heard worse.
The 34th time these sides have met
14 wins for the English. 15 the Germans. 5 draws.
M'colleague Matt Law writes from Wembley: "Bit of a 90s pre-match vibe at Wembley with World in Motion and Three Lions blasting out, along with lots of advertisements for the 90s-inspired new away shirt. England went into the Italia 90 World Cup with a manager under huge pressure, so maybe it won't be so bad for Southgate in Qatar..."
Reactions to Gareth's team
Dan Zeqiri: "Think a back 3 works best with a converted full-back/hybrid player. Davies at Spurs, Azpilicueta at Chelsea, Tierney for Scot/AFC when in that system, Walker. Comfortable defending wide, can overlap, formation can change seamlessly. Three orthodox CBs can be rigid."
Irvine Welsh: "You could swap jobs with Truss and Southgate and justifiably expect an improvement in both the UK and the England national team."
Dave Bagman: "Nice of Southgate to give our reserves some match fitness. Top bloke."
"We have got some good options on the left side. Luke is a super player. We thought coming into the side that Dier did really well. Kyle has been out with an injury so it makes sense to refresh that position."
"We have got a big squad and four right backs with exceptional quality. We know Trent is a very good footballer."
Here is how Germany will line up
England: Pope, James, Stones, Dier, Maguire, Shaw, Rice, Bellingham, Foden, Sterling, Kane. Subs: Trippier, Ramsdale, Henderson, Walker, Coady, Guehi, Saka, Mount, Toney, Chilwell, Henderson, Abraham.
Germany: ter Stegen, Kehrer, Sule, Schlotterbeck, Raum, Kimmich, Gundogan, Hofmann, Musiala, Sane, Havertz. Subs: Baumann, Ginter, Arnold, Werner, Gnabry, Trapp, Muller, Henrichs, Bella-Kotchap, Gosens.
Referee: Danny Makkelie (Netherlands).
Gareth Southgate ITV pre-recorded interview
"All of the coaching team are doing a lot of soul-searching.
"This has been the best period in our football history. I am not sure people were complaining when we beat Germany at the Euros, or when we reached the semi-final."
"It has turned really quickly. Just five matches really in terms of results. But that is this role, this job. It has been an unbelievable experience so far. I have been on the ropes in my career and I have been on the canvas and I've got up. I am 52. I am a big boy. Whatever happens, I have lived through before."
"I am never going a game thinking we are going to do anything beyond play well and win. Anything beyond that is beyond my control."
Gareth has made two changes
John Stones and Luke Shaw replace Walker and Saka
"We got into good positions but we lacked the final ball, the final finish. We keep our heads down and we keep working hard. Really excited for the game, we hope we can send people home happy. Germany are a top, top side so it will be a tough game."
"Flick has done well since he came in from Bayern Munich. We have a concern up front, we do not have a world class number nine."
"This country fell in love with this group of players and manager, and they can do again. A good performance here and we will go to Qatar with hope."
England have no win in five
Their last victory was in March over the Ivory Coast. You have to go back to the glory days of 1993 for the last time they went winless in six.
England have managed to score just ONE goal in their five Nations League games.
Gareth with the most sensible possible mask configuration
Just waiting for the match
— England (@England) September 26, 2022
and Gary Neville, no less, is on Channel 4 News talking about footballers speaking out about inequality, the country's finances and why the government is removing the cap on bankers' bonuses.
"The pound is tanking, probably lower than my reputation in Liverpool.
[On bankers bonus cap being removed] "There is a lack of connection to the real world. People are desperate, thinking how am I going to feed my family, heat the house. I feel as if you cannot see a doctor for two months, I cannot feel comfortable with that."
Gary also says he is not becoming a Labour MP.
— England (@England) September 26, 2022
Here's Mike McGrath
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) September 26, 2022
The German press
gave the Die Mannschaft a bit of a kicking.
"Gnabry and Raum are the new problem cases," said Spiegel. "The difficult period for Germany's Bayern players was clear to see. Gnabry is completely out of form. Almost no Germany player reached their normal level against Hungary."
The last time Germany lost before that
- and they don't lose many - was in the Euros against England last summer. Sterling scored on 75 minutes and Kane on 86. Answer came there none from the Germans and England went through to the quarters.
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) September 26, 2022
That's Hansi Flick
the German coach.
He's got a few tough questions to solve himself. The Germans were beaten by Hungary in Leipzig on Friday. They've got one more match before the World Cup, a friendly against Oman a week before the tournament.
Match programme for England-Germany pic.twitter.com/eRPH2a0CVz
— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) September 26, 2022
God Save The King
will be sung before the match.
One notable absentee tonight
will be Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has been left out of England’s matchday squad. Gareth said earlier that "everybody with us is fit, so no issues" so this has to be seen as an omission not a fitness matter. Interesting one, isn't it? A quite brilliant player going forward, but it appears Southgate does not like the cut of his defensive jib.
Here's Mike McGrath with the story.
And here is some analysis about it. 'Trent Alexander-Arnold can be England's Cafu – if they embrace attacking football' - well that's the opinion of Liverpool assistant Pep Lijnders, who obviously works with the player week in, week out.
“It is only my opinion but if you see the game in an attacking way, he gave that position such a creative boost over the last few years. True or not? Like Cafu did in the past,” said Lijnders.
“For me there are no limits and if you see the game in a certain way then, for sure (Alexander-Arnold will shine in Qatar). But you can see the game in many different ways.”
Really good read this from Chris Bascombe, our Liverpool expert, and worth your time.
And Sam Wallace, our chief football writer, has also identified the issues with TAA and England.
"Even the No 7 on his back on Saturday evening contributed to the uncertainty as to what Trent Alexander-Arnold truly is when it comes to this England team. Right-back, wing-back, or midfielder-in-waiting? Or is he just one of those very good English footballers with the misfortune to be the right man in the wrong era?
Germany come to Wembley to play England
the same opponents and the scene, of course, of England's greatest footballing triumph. I cannot promise you England 4 Germany 2 (Kane hat-trick), but there should be plenty of excitement. Firstly, this is England's last match before the Qatar World Cup and thus the last chance for those on the fringes of the first team to make a firm case for inclusion, and also for Gareth Southgate to tinker with his formation and approach. Perhaps it's also important for England to put on a decent show for their fans, many of whom are pretty unhappy with the way Gareth has been running things of late.
As to the Nations League, England are flat bottom of group A3 with just two points from their previous five fixtures. Germany are third on six points with Italy second on eight. Hungary, impressively, have managed 10 points from their five games and if they can get a point against the Azzurri they will make next year's finals. Not a bad achievement. England, meanwhile, will be relegated from the A groups into the B groups.
So not great times for England right now, and one young man might be thinking that he has backed the right horse. Here is my colleague Mike McGrath with a piece about Jamal Musiala of Germany.
Jamal Musiala still receives text messages joking that he should be wearing the Three Lions of England rather than the shirt of Germany, whom he switched allegiances to after breaking in the first-team at Bayern Munich.
Musiala, 19, played on the pitches at St George’s Park as he came through the ranks at Chelsea but his move to Bayern - and getting spotted by Hansi Flick accidentally - made his decision to play for Die Mannschaft tough but relatively straightforward.
The teenager certainly has no regrets over the decision. He sat in the auditorium at Wembley ahead of facing his former country, insisting it was the famous stadium he dreamed of playing in, rather than the England shirt.
“It was definitely not an easy decision to make,” he said. “It was a decision I thought about for a long time and I think when it all comes together, with me, my family and everyone, it was a decision that I felt very comfortable with. I don't look back on any regrets or anything. I made my decision and that's that.
“Some of my friends message me here and there when they see me saying ‘I should have played for England’ and stuff. We joke around there but I think they're still happy for my decision. I’m sure some England fans won’t be happy but I think that means I’m doing good if it upsets some people that I didn’t choose their country.”
Musiala’s friends from his England days include Jude Bellingham, who also moved to Germany to start his senior career. He is also in touch with Tino Livramento, who he knew from Chelsea and England’s youth teams.
“From my time with England in the youth level, they have amazing talents and I was playing with many of them as well - the Under 21s, 19s,” Musiala said. “There were many players who can have an amazing career and I think England's youth system is very good for that, to build on these talents and make sure they get better.
“They have a lot of quality. I think we can say that this match is a perfect game for both of us because we both will need this game to go into the World Cup with confidence. Everyone's a bit shocked with their results right now.”
Musiala has a picture of himself and Gareth Southgate from before he was playing with England. “Yeah, that was at my primary school in Corpus Christi. I saw him there, I had a picture. It’s not on me right now, but we took a picture together,” he said.
He was only brought to Flick’s attention in a training session at Bayern, before the coach eventually took charge of the national team. At the time, Flick thought he was just another of Bayern’s excellent young players but instantly saw he was a player ready for the first team.
“It is a bit of a funny story,” Flick said “My assistant at Bayern said we have a talent in the academy and I said okay then let’s have a look. We saw straight away he was a great talent and never looked back. It has been fantastic development and he has a great feeling on the pitch, that he can solve situations in a positive manager."