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England draws with Germany, but concerns loom before World Cup

England Germany draw

England and Germany played to a thriller of a second half in their UEFA Nations League finale, as the the sides played to a draw.

Despite trailing 2-0 with over 70 minutes played, the Three Lions roared back to take the lead against Germany, 3-2, in the 83rd minute. However, Kai Havertz silenced a boisterous Wembley Stadium after England’s Nick Pope spilled a shot from Timo Werner just four minutes after Harry Kane grabbed the lead.

That goal from Havertz was actually his second of the game. He calmly scored a gem of a goal from outside the box into the top corner to put Germany up 2-0 in the second half.

However, the story of this game is England’s comeback, particularly given the struggles of the side in this UEFA Nations League campaign. Goals from Luke Shaw and Mason Mount drew the hosts level. Then, Harry Kane’s penalty provided England its first lead of its six games in this rendition of the Nations League.

It was a remarkable game. Or, at least, a remarkable second half. Despite all the excitement, the game raised more eyebrows for both sides, England in particular.

England’s draw with Germany shows holes

England’s three goals put a gloss over what was a dismal Nations League campaign. Not only did England suffer relegation to UEFA Nations League B, but it scored just four goals in six games. Remember, three of those came in the second half against Germany. Moreover, two of those four goals were Harry Kane penalties beyond the 80th minute.

England just went six competitive games without a win for the first time in 29 years. For a side aiming to better its fourth-place finish at Russia 2018, the Nations League did no favors other than exposing flaws.

Starting at the top, Harry Kane looked devoid of goals. The Spurs star started five of six games in the group stage, playing 90 minutes each time. He scored twice in that 450 minutes of game time, both coming on penalties. Around him, wing players like Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka or Jarrod Bowen lacked creativity to provide. It was a dull front three, remarkably stagnant in each of the games up until the last 25 minutes against Germany.

England UEFA Nations League

Photo: IMAGO

In the midfield, Jude Bellingham continues to be a shining light for England. The teenager is perhaps England’s most important player, transitioning play from offense to defense. He also drew the crucial penalty on Monday to provide Kane with England’s third.

Lack of Trent Alexander-Arnold

On defense, one notable omission was that of Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold. The reasoning for dropping the defender likely stems from his play with his club. Granted, Alexander-Arnold is far from perfect when it comes to defense. Poor performances against Manchester United and Napoli did him no favors.

However, with an offense struggling in the way England has, someone with the passing ability and the capacity to spring a play into life like Trent Alexander-Arnold contains is invaluable. Also, if form is an issue for Gareth Southgate, Harry Maguire should be in the same position of Alexander-Arnold. The Manchester United captain gave away the penalty to Germany in a reckless fashion. Then, he is the one who gave the ball away as Germany scored its second.

Luke Shaw proved that you do not need to be overly active with the club to make a difference with the international side. He scored a rare goal for England to get the comeback started to top off a strong performance.

Southgate now has a couple of months to see what his players can prove at the club level. Can Maguire win over a starting role, does Trent squeak back into the side and does England finally find creative outlets up top that are reliable?

Time is running out on these decisions. The World Cup opener against Iran is less than two months away, and England will not play in a fixture as a team until that game in Doha.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Pressefoto Baumann

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