Germany 1–1 England
by Dom Smith
This was England’s first return to Munich since their 5–1 win over Germany in 2001. This was their first meeting with Germany since dumping them out of the European Championships last summer. And this was 7 June 2022: exactly 20 years since David Beckham’s penalty ensured they beat Argentina at the 2002 World Cup. England had portents on their side.
And maybe fate on their side too. Just when it looked as though this well-drilled, high-pressing German side had consigned England to their second defeat in four days, Harry Kane was felled by Nico Schlotterbeck and duly thwacked home his 50th England goal past Neuer to earn England a 1–1 draw.
Gareth Southgate rightly accepted criticism after England’s laboured defeat to Hungary on Saturday. Here there was less experimentation and far more of an emphasis on picking up a result. His decision to pick a 4-3-3 formation will have pleased many England fans who charge the manager with tactical ineptitude. Here, England were tactically much improved from their Budapest blip. But since replacing Joachim Löw as Germany manager, Hansi Flick has brought with him into the national team job everything that was good about his period as Bayern Munich head coach — apart from Poland striker Robert Lewandowski.Embed from Getty Images
Like England, the Germans should be seen as genuine contenders to lift the World Cup in Qatar in December, and they were on it from the first whistle here, harrying England and creating openings for themselves with their aggressive pressing. Kai Havertz tested Jordan Pickford in the first minute — and prompted a response from England.
At times it felt more like a boxing fight so well-matched that every potential differentiating factor between the two teams was elevated in magnitude. Harry Kane controlled, looked up and stung the gloves of Manuel Neuer. Might it be England? Germany kept the ball for five minutes. Might it be them?
There were eight added minutes at the end of an even and goalless first period. Kalvin Phillips had gone down injured on three separate occasions before Jude Bellingham finally replaced him — back on the pitch at the Allianz trying to disrupt the rhythm of Bayern players. Raheem Sterling down. Kieran Trippier down. Those two battled on. But should these players be playing four high-profile competitive international at this point of the season? Those arguing ‘no’ now had further ammunition for their case. It was the walking wounded out there.
Jamal Musiala was born in Stuttgart, made in the Chelsea academy, but in 2019 joined Bayern and before Euro 2020 last summer switched allegiances to represent Germany. One that got away, from an England perspective. He got away from Mason Mount too, Cruyff-turning in midfield before driving with purpose at England’s flat back four.Embed from Getty Images
Jonas Hofmann scored an excellent goal when Antonio Rüdiger played him through with a hoicked, floated ball from defence. Havertz lugged down Harry Maguire, but after Hofmann ran towards Pickford and slotted home, a lengthy VAR check confirmed Hofmann had been offside. England breathed a collective sigh of relief, but this was a prophecy of what was to come. What a test this was, five months out from the World Cup.
Bukayo Saka was lively throughout, and always an option out wide when England countered. He forced Neuer into a big one-handed save, and before the half-time whistle sounded he so nearly broke the deadlock with a curled long-shot which just fell just wide of the post.
Germany hadn’t lost in ten games under Flick before this encounter. England gave them a fierce test here, make no mistake about it. But it was the hosts who went ahead in Munich, suggesting they’d add to their strong form. Hofmann received an intelligent threaded pass from Joshua Kimmich. Maguire was dragged out from defence too easily — echoing his positional problems at Manchester United this season — and suddenly Hofmann only had Pickford to beat. The Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder battered the ball past him via the Everton goalkeeper’s desperate left-hand reach.
England could have no complaints. They’d been OK to this point, but Germany had the measure of them. They had a lead to show that now.Embed from Getty Images
Mount hammered a long shot on goal which Neuer beat away well, but Germany were not hanging on by any means. They wanted another, and so on came Serge Gnabry and Timo Werner for fresh legs and added attacking impetus.
With 70 minutes on the clock, they so nearly pulled away by doubling their lead. A confusion on England’s right flank left David Raum unchallenged by both Saka and Kyle Walker. He had all the time in the world to bend in a sublime cross that England’s famous old foe Thomas Müller met in full flight. Müller’s volley was accurate and powerful and superbly kept out by Pickford. A constant in Southgate’s side. They say he’s never let England down, and they say it for a reason. He hasn’t.
Soon England’s No 1 was back involved, smothering to keep Werner out when England had committed too many players forward and the contest hung precariously in the balance.
England rallied and so nearly levelled when substitute Jack Grealish played a delightful ball into the corrider of uncertainly for Harry Kane. Kane had profited from a Grealish cross to ensure England knocked Löw’s Germany out of the Euros last summer. But that was an entirely different Germany. The tournament monsters have already regenerated. A year on, Neuer was back for revenge, denying Kane a tap-in with an excellent close-range stop.Embed from Getty Images
Sterling shimmied into the box but fired over from a corner as England tried to force a big finish, pushing to ensure it wouldn’t be two defeats in a row at the start of this Nations League campaign. Southgate told his players before this match that top teams don’t lose two on the bounce.
But if England felt harshly treated on Saturday with Hungary’s marginal penalty call, they had a dubious penalty for themselves here — in a much bigger game. Kane was clipped down by Nico Schlotterbeck with the slightest of trips. The referee consulted the monitor and gave the spot-kick. The excellent Grealish clenched his fists in celebration. Penalty. Kane into his usual process. Only one winner: Kane.
Germany looked more accomplished. England rallied, to their credit. And Southgate should be pleased it ended all square. Much to ponder for England, plus a point to get them up and running in the group.