Germany and England will both be out to secure their first UEFA Nations League victories at the second attempt when they renew their long-standing rivalry in Munich on Tuesday night. Hansi Flick’s side kicked off proceedings in League A Group 3 with a 1-1 draw against Italy, while the Three Lions suffered a demoralising 1-0 loss to Hungary Italy’s XI during Saturday’s clash with Germany had a highly unfamiliar feel to it, with the vast majority of the Euro 2020 winning crop nowhere to be seen, but the reigning continental champions impressively held an in-form Mannschaft to a score draw in Bologna.
Some strong play from debutant Wilfried Gnonto down the right-hand side allowed Lorenzo Pellegrini to convert from close range with 70 minutes gone, but Joshua Kimmich quickly responded for a wasteful Germany to ensure a share of the points. In doing so, Germany at least managed to stretch their unbeaten run in all tournaments to 10 games since their Euro 2020 elimination at the hands of England, and they find themselves second in the embryonic rankings in League A Group 3 as they seek to progress to the finals for the first time. Die Mannschaft have tried and failed on two previous occasions to progress to the latter stages of the Nations League and continue to ramp up their preparations for the 2022 World Cup, which can hardly turn out to be any worse than their group-stage calamity in 2018.
A measly tally of two wins from their 11 Nations League matches is certainly a surprising set of results for a side of Germany’s stature, but they are still unbeaten at home in the tournament and have not been quelled on the attacking front under the tutelage of Flick yet. Only children and guardians were permitted to attend Hungary’s clash with England in the home end, but negative responses towards the taking of the knee still did not cease, and the Three Lions also looked disjointed and jaded in an underwhelming defeat. Reece James bundling Zsolt Nagy over handed Dominik Szoboszlai the opportunity to convert from the spot, which he needed no second invitation to take, and the same old questions were asked once again as England slumped to a first loss since the Euro 2020 final.
Gareth Southgate pinpointed the Budapest heat as a contributing factor to his side’s defeat – one which leaves them in the relegation place after one game – and the Three Lions surely cannot fathom demotion to League B in spite of fans’ mixed feelings towards the Nations League. England had not failed to score in 14 matches before being nullified by Marco Rossi’s defence at the Puskas Arena, but Southgate’s side have now gone three games without a goal away from home in the Nations League, so the spirits of the Euro 2020 heroes must be well and truly channelled on Tuesday.
Wembley was bouncing as England dumped Germany out of the Euros with a 2-0 win in the last-16 stage 12 months ago, and the Three Lions triumphed on Mannschaft turf in a friendly as recently as 2016, but there is no Eric Dier to score a 91st-minute winner this time. Germany did not pick up any fresh injury concerns during the opening draw with Italy, although Borussia Dortmund talisman Marco Reus was absent from the contest due to illness.
The 33-year-old will hope to recover in time to play a part against the Three Lions, but Karim Adeyemi was absent entirely amid the rife competition for spots in Germany’s attack, and a number of changes should be in the offing. Ilkay Gundogan and Kai Havertz will jump at the opportunity to test themselves against some of their Premier League counterparts, and the door should also be open for Jamal Musiala to push for a place. In contrast, England debutant James Justin had a first cap to forget on Saturday, as the Leicester City defender was taken off at the half-time interval after complaining of calf discomfort.
Southgate will be loath to take any risks on the defender while Fikayo Tomori and Marc Guehi are still uncertain for the contest, and it remains to be seen how quickly Phil Foden will recover from his bout of COVID-19. Raheem Sterling has fought off his own bout of illness and is a candidate to return to the XI alongside the likes of Bukayo Saka and Jack Grealish, with Southgate sure to consider plenty of alterations.
Germany possible starting lineup:
Neuer; Kehrer, Sule, Rudiger, Raum; Gundogan, Kimmich; Gnabry, Muller, Musiala; Havertz
England possible starting lineup:
Pickford; James, Stones, Maguire; Alexander-Arnold, Rice, Phillips, Saka; Sterling, Kane, Grealish