England and Germany share points in the league of nations
Many of the top teams had a poor start to the new Nations League a few days ago. Reigning winner France, for example, lost to Denmark, Belgium was defeated by the Netherlands and Croatia lost to Austria. England and Germany also got off to a poor start. While the Germans played out a 1-1 draw with Italy, which was an acceptable result, the English managed to lose to Hungary (0-1).
And in such a match, the Hungarians didn’t look like an underdog in terms of the content of the game. Meanwhile, the English, as usual, received a barrage of criticism in the domestic press. For them, this defeat was their first since their defeat by Italy in the Euro 2020 finals. So we can assess the degree of frustration and surprise – we are not used to expect such failures from the modern English team. By the way, the same Germany has maintained a unbeaten streak also exactly since Euro 2020, where she lost for the last time – exactly to the British.
There is a lot of intertwining and the responsibility before this fight put a special pressure on both teams. Even a draw with Italy, which is going through a difficult time, was perceived as a misfire for Germany. The rotation of the roster, applied by both coaches after the first matches, could also be an indication of dissatisfaction. There were five changes to the England squad for the match against the Germans, and seven changes to the German squad at once. Practically new teams came out for a face-to-face meeting. However, there was another reason – not just dissatisfaction with the start. This reason was already evident in the first half.
Previously, the advisability of the national team matches in June immediately after the end of the club season was raised more than once. From the outside we do not see any problem with them. After the shooting off in the clubs they can calmly play a couple of games for the national teams before going on vacation. In reality, the June games often prove to be of very poor quality compared to all the other games of the year.
And this is most often true of the top teams. Simply because they are made up of star players whose clubs have participated as long as possible in various tournaments, and they themselves are permanent players in the main squad. This is also why Southgate and Flick decided to make big reshuffles between matches. They saw that many players simply “don’t make it” and can’t find the strength to perform on the field and in training with the same dedication they’ve had throughout the season.
There’s also an important psychological aspect to this. The final of a club season is always an emotional peak, a maximum release of all kinds of energy – like a runner before he touches the finish line. You tell that runner that he has to run even ten more meters – he will not do it as fast as he did before that very ribbon. Likewise, the end of the club season for players is crossing the finish line, followed immediately by a “shutdown,” primarily emotional.
And after this it is difficult to set oneself up for a fresh perception and movement. The only exception could be some decisive tiebreaker matches. In that case they are perceived as part of the finish of the season. But there is certainly no special motivation to play a passing game, even if you have a top contender, even if it is not a friendly game but a tournament game. Besides, the League of Nations has just begun. It always seems in such cases that everything can be corrected later, and the mood at the start is much less than at the finish.
In general, it was all felt in the course of the first half. It was felt even in Croatia’s match with France the day before, for example, in many other matches in June. Players felt as if they were forced onto the field, and they want to serve this duty with minimal effort. There are a lot of mistakes, inaccuracies, lack of clear structure and logic in the game – when the rhythm is disconnected, nobody takes the initiative, and the game itself is played at a low pace, but with a lot of chaos and unpredictability. It is not very pleasant to watch, although sometimes dangerous moments arise – this is more due to the tendency to make mistakes in all the conditions described above.
The first half of the match between Germany and England in general looked equal, although the Germans more often dictated their terms and looked more solid team. They shot a little bit more often and accurately (7:6 according to kicks, 3:2 – in accurate shots per half), and owned the ball more (60% of the time), and gave more accurate passes (85% vs. 78%). But the score was never opened. It happened only in the second half, which was different from the first.
Pain and Salvation
Germany’s goal early in the second half added life to the game. Hofmann completed a quick attack with a goal from Kimmich. Which is quite paradoxical, because the Germans seemed set up for positional attacks and the English for fast ones. But in the episode Germany’s luck smiled on that particular play.
This goal slightly opened up the game and showed that in fact it is more about psychological fatigue than physical. After all, when the scoreline was no longer neutral, everyone perked up: the Germans became more enthusiastic, while the English were on the verge of a very unattractive zero in the points column for the June games.
In terms of ball control, however, nothing much changed. On the contrary, Germany, even despite dominating the scoreline, controlled the ball more and finished the game with 63 percent. And the accuracy of assists increased to 88%. England’s indicators remained the same. But now the visitors attacked much more dangerously and completed almost all of their transitions to attack.
In the second half, England had nine shots, while Germany had only three, including a goal. And all three were accurate for the Germans, while the British had four. Which isn’t bad either. Both Neuer and Pickford had to save their teams, so the supporters of both sides can say that somewhere they were unlucky and that the opponent’s goalkeepers were to blame.
England could escape defeat only at the end of the match. It is noteworthy that none of the coaches used the entire limit of substitutions. Southgate made three substitutions, including one forced due to an injury to Phillips in the first half, and Flick made four. Probably the condition of those who remained in reserve was quite unimportant, and all the more or less fresh forces the coaches put in from the start.
England’s salvation came with a penalty, which Kane earned from a Schlotterbeck foul. Harry himself converted the penalty, rehabilitating himself for an improbable earlier missed goal when he struck the goalkeeper from a couple of yards out. The draw seems like a compromise, a fair result, which, however, prompts another thought.
The League of Nations is getting tiresome
Yes, that thought. Initially, there were questions about how interesting such a tournament would be. Yes, it seems that any substitute for a friendly match with tournament meaning would prove more interesting. And some of the League of Nations matches, especially in the final stages, were masterpieces. Plus the meetings of the top teams. But there are too many of them.
Even in the early stages of the draw. And the mood of the players is not the same, and the attitude of the fans. It gets boring. Gradually, League of Nations matches turn in terms of perception, and often in terms of pace and content of the game, into an ordinary friendly, and old and familiar to each other teams with a minimum of variety.
Somewhere else something interesting flashes, but the tournament is young. And already we’re starting to get stale. Additional tournament meaning has been added to the League of Nations with the chances of teams making their way through it to the most important competitions. But they’ve only added more confusion to those schemes, so the Nations League isn’t seen as a springboard to the World Cup, for example. There’s the regular selection, and it’s clearer. And even it already has more internal tension and drama in the matches than the Nations League games.