A mischief by Harry Kane and a simultaneous error by Nico Schlotterbeck precipitated the penalty that allowed England to leave the Allianz Arena with a loot that they never deserved per game. The 1-1 victory rewarded Kane’s talent and obscured Hansi Flick’s excellent work as Germany coach a year after his appointment.
Neuer, Rüdiger, Lukas Klostermann, Nico Schlotterbeck, Jonas Hofmann (Gnabry, min. 64), David Raum, Joshua Kimmich, Gündogan (Sane, min. 82), Kai Havertz, Müller (Leon Goretzka, min. 75) and Jamal Musiala (Timo Werner, min. 64)
Jordan Pickford, Walker, Trippier, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Sterling, Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips (Jude Bellingham, min. 13), Mason Mount (Grealish, min. 71), Bukayo Saka (Jarrod Bowen, min. 79) and kane
goals 1-0 min. 50: Jonas Hoffmann. 1-1 min. 87: Kane.
Yellow cards Nico Schlotterbeck (min. 86)
It is the time when footballers in Europe dream of escaping to Ibiza or Mykonos. With no major trophies up for grabs, it’s certainly a bad time to be a coach. For most professionals, the League of Nations is not an acceptable incentive. But England and Germany are exceptional. For a variety of reasons, players from two of the continent’s most rival teams feel they have debts to settle. The game that measured them in Munich squeezed those last drops of enthusiasm that remain in their players after two physically and mentally exhausting years.
Gareth Southgate, the English coach, challenged his men to recover the ambition that took them to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and the final of the Euro 2021. After appearing on the threshold of glory, about to lift a trophy after half a century of frustration, the ‘pros’ traveled to Germany wounded in pride. They had just been clearly outclassed by Hungary (1-0) in the opening match of Group C and needed a dose of adrenaline to get back on track. “These matches are brilliant; it’s the kind of proof we need,” Southgate said. In the absence of tactical springs, the coach pressed the emotional ones with a view to appearing at the World Cup in Qatar with his wounds healed. The case of Flick, his German counterpart, is exactly the opposite.
The challenge that Flick proposes to his footballers is not to do with regaining competitive fire but with displaying the most spectacular football that a national team in Europe can offer. One year after the resignation of Joachim Löw, the coach of the manschaft It has been proposed to activate a wave of offensive football that injects passion into its players based on dynamism and extreme pressure on the opposing field. The task entails two main difficulties in these times: the reverie of Ibiza in the minds of athletes and the lack of talent that has afflicted German football in the last five years. Against everything Flick faced to make Germany a serious contender for the title in Qatar. And from what he did in his team against England, it would seem that he has a good chance of achieving his purpose.
Against false assumptions, the former Bayern coach did not base his selection on the Bavarians. From the outset he dispensed with Süle, Goretzka, Gnabry and Sané, four players from his exclusion, and arranged a scheme with three central defenders that rarely works to take the initiative. Germany charged forward with a 3-4-3. The same drawing of England but with an antagonistic execution. Instead of using the wingers to defend, as Southgate did, he positioned them as wingers, always ready to team up and ask for the ball in the immediate vicinity of the opponent’s box, and rarely involved in hasty retreats. Raum on the left and Hofmann on the right became two arrows who, having lost the ball, did not dedicate their efforts to running back, but to put pressure on the English central defenders with the help of Müller. From behind, one of the central defenders joined the midfield with Gündogan and Kimmich depending on the position of the ball, forcing their rivals to live under constant drowning.
If England were saved from the bonfire it was because Kane, the best footballer on the pitch, did things like a magician, and because Germany lacked individual subtlety in the final meters. The English revolted based on strokes of genius. Sterling, Kane, Mount and Saka staged sweeping adventures. With regard to the things that make up the organization, the collective functioning, the game played well, there was no color. Germany settled in the adversary camp. He only scored one goal, but he synthesized his project. Jonas Hofmann, the Mönchengladbach winger, went inside, Havertz went down to pivot on the inside right axis, and Kimmich took advantage of the space gained to find Hofmann unmarked on the edge of the area. The turn, the shot and the goal were the precise and elegant swing that culminated a choral work.
Germany put on a display of inventiveness and ambition that could bear fruit over time. England prolonged their faltering journey of recent months with another survival exercise. Kane, who scored the 50th goal of his international career, seems like enough for that. Pretending to win the World Cup like this is a chimera.
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