England and Germany will only play for pride when the two European giants round off League A Group 3 in the UEFA Nations League at Wembley Stadium on Monday night.
The Three Lions were condemned to relegation to League B after a 1-0 defeat to Italy on Friday night, while Hansi Flick’s men saw their hopes of first place crash and burn with a loss to Hungary by the same scoreline.
Many have referred to the current England crop as the golden generation, which is no surprise given the abundance of attacking and youthful talent on display at domestic level, but the Three Lions are now on their worst goalscoring run for 22 years.
The much-maligned Gareth Southgate once again saw his side fail to score from open play in a 1-0 defeat to Italy at San Siro last time out, with Napoli forward Giacomo Raspadori coming up with a brilliant winner for the Azzurri to seal England’s relegation to League B.
Still winless after five games in League A Group 3, Southgate’s side have now failed to score in three successive matches for the first time since 2000, and their solitary goal in the tournament so far has been a Harry Kane penalty – simply unacceptable for a footballing nation of this calibre.
To say that morale will be at a low point going into the World Cup would be a significant understatement, and the Three Lions boss did not do himself any favours with the #SouthgateOut brigade by claiming that Friday’s performance was a “step in the right direction”.
A five-game winless streak for the first time in 2014 and failure to score from open play in 495 minutes can hardly be seen as a step in the right direction for England, but a return to Wembley is just what the doctor ordered, as the Euro 2020 runners-up are unbeaten in 15 games at their headquarters – winning 13 of them.
England and Germany would have been expected to be involved in a tense three-way battle for top spot in League A Group 3, but Hungary are now riding off into the sunset after prevailing 1-0 against Hansi Flick’s side while the Three Lions were quelled in Italy.
A moment of backheel magic from Adam Szalai in the 17th minute was all it took for the Magyars to sink Germany in Leipzig, and Die Mannschaft – who sit two points behind Italy in third – can now only finish second at best in their Nations League group.
Besides a 5-2 thumping of the European champions back in June, Flick’s side have also been alarmingly underwhelming in the Nations League, failing to win any of their other four games or keep a clean sheet, and Die Mannschaft are yet to make the final four of the competition.
Defeat to Hungary marked Germany’s first defeat in any competition since Euro 2020, and the visitors to Wembley have surprisingly only picked up one win from their seven Nations League away games since the competition’s inception, conceding at least one goal each time.
Prior to being undone by Szalai, Germany’s most recent loss was their 2-0 Euro 2020 last-16 defeat to England at Wembley 15 months ago, and the two sides played out a 1-1 draw earlier in the Nations League, marking the solitary time that the Three Lions have made the net ripple in the 2022-23 edition.
England Nations League form:
England form (all competitions):
Germany Nations League form:
Germany form (all competitions):
We say: England 1-1 Germany
Knowing that the outcome of Monday’s game will be rendered inconsequential either way, England and Germany can both afford to play with the handbrake off, and a multitude of changes can be expected from both nations.
Failure to score from open play again would lead to growing discontent around Wembley for Southgate’s men at the worst possible time, and we do expect the Three Lions to finally break their barren run against a Germany side who have endured plenty of disappointments on the road.
However, it is extremely difficult to back England to win with any real confidence, and Die Mannschaft can fight back to rescue a point and consign their hosts to a winless Nations League campaign.