A weird game from start to finish that needed more quality from both sides as Germany drew 3-3 with England in the UEFA Nations League. Former Bayern Munich manager Hansi Flick and Gareth Southgate’s men created chances but then didn’t do much with them for most of the game. And in the second half things took a wild turn with goals scored back and forth by both teams that ended befittingly in a draw. Without further ado, here are the observations:
Germany’s poor quality in the box
In several instances tonight, Germany, despite creating dangerous chances, simply failed to do anything in the box. Players hesitating, lack of any follow up and a huge gap in the middle saw Germany waste chances in the first half. There just wasn’t anyone to boot the ball towards the goal for crying out loud. Joshua Kimmich took one good shot that went wide. Otherwise, it was a poor showing of initiative from the players. This was corrected to an extent in the second half.
Having said that, even in the second half, once the team gained pace with the ball, they chose to just backpass and kill all momentum gained. This was very frustrating to watch. Good runs, good spaces found were wasted with a weak backpass. Germany needed to complete a lot more of their plays which they failed to do. England for all their flaws, almost always got a shot off or were dispossessed in attack. With 8 shots on goal compared to Germany’s 4, a combination of excellent saves from FC Barcelona’s Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and England’s poor finishing saved Germany from a defeat.
Perfectly balanced as all things should be
Equally casual start from both sides, equally poor in giving the ball away, equally bad at fluffing their lines and equally intense to score an equal number of goals. This was a weird game to watch that was borderline hilarious if it wasn’t for the entertainment in the last 30 minutes.
It being the Nations League game and a game of little significance at that, it was a dead wood game in a dead wood league. While that justified the casual start to an extent, it is no way acceptable how poor both teams were. There were moments of brilliance and great chances created, but the rest of the night was a contest of which team can give the ball away easiest or which team is going to miss the bigger chance. With an 0.14 xG, Germany were really awful in the first half, wasting runs and space. But, they improved in the second half and their expected goals went up to 1.56. England with an xG of 0.42 on the other hand were better than Germany in the first half, but slowly picked up to match Germany’s intensity in the second half with their expected goals going up to 1.79.
The goal fest was a result of both the teams finishing the chances they had been creating the whole night or the chances they were on the verge of creating. The 3-3 sequence could have happened in the first half or at any other stage in the game. The presence of Serge Gnabry, a pepped up Jamal Musiala for Germany and Arsenal FC’s Bakayo Saka and Mason Mount for England tipped the chances of the goal fest occuring in the second half.
Musiala’s turn around in the second half
Musiala struggled in the first half and seemed totally unlike his usual self. Getting marked out by the England defenders, Musiala failed to get into central spaces to be dangerous. However, in the second half he turned around his performance with his tackles, passes and dribbling ability.
His pressing and defensive work rewarded the youngster tonight. His pressing forced Manchester United’s Harry Maguire to give the ball away and with his skill he won the penalty for the first goal. He created a wonderful chance that RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner squandered in the 62nd minute. The second goal too was on the back of Moose’s winning the ball back. All in all, Musiala more than made up for his poor showing in the first half with a strong second half.
Despite having 11 players, this squad feels like its missing players. Germany’s lack of a true centre-forward and successors to the Mats Hummels-Jerome Boateng pairing has been hurting them. Tonight was another showing of the same weakness. Its up to Flick to make his system without a true striker work, one of the ways is by increasing shots from other players – which was severely lacking today. Hopefully Flick has more ideas to solve these problems since the World Cup is almost upon us. Unfortunately, I do not see this squad at this stage is winning anything in Qatar.
The only long term solution to this problem is finding the successors in defence and in the No. 9 position.