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Published 26 September 2022 4 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Southgate: 'We showed character and quality'

Written by:

Paul Martin

England boss reflects on game with Germany and what it means as the countdown to the World Cup begins...
England manager Gareth Southgate saw his team held to a 3-3 draw by Germany at Wembley in what was their final game before the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

It looked as though the Three Lions were on course for a victory, when goals from Luke Shaw, Mason Mount and Harry Kane had swung the game in England's favour after Germany had taken a two-goal lead in the second half.

But a late goal from Kai Havertz ensured it ended all square in the final match of the 2022-23 UEFA Nations League and Southgate spoke afterwards to the media at Wembley to reflect on the game.

On England's performance

“We started the game a bit tentatively and you could feel the crowd were with us but wondering how everything would play out. Subconsciously, the team felt that a little bit, we weren’t aggressive enough with our pressing against a team who manipulated the space really well.

"We didn’t get the ball from our back players into midfield well enough, we weren’t as positive as we should have been there. But even through that period we had the best chances, we had moments where we played quickly through the press and we should've been ahead at half time.

“All the goals we conceded are avoidable. At 2-0, we were looking into a difficult moment but the players have been fantastic in the past few days. They have taken collective responsibility and the experience has been one we needed to grow as a team.

"You're going to have pressure in a World Cup, you can try and avoid it but it’s coming. It’s better we feel it and learn how to deal with it – we talked about how we needed to react if Germany scored tonight and the players reacted in the right way.

"We showed character but also quality, particularly in the goals we scored, and the crowd came with us. They stayed with us, even at 0-2, they didn’t get on their backs and that was so important for us. When we scored, the roof nearly came off, we all remember what it’s like to see a goal go in and we have momentum. Bukayo and Mason had good contributions, Jude was outstanding throughout and Luke Shaw had a really positive night. There’s a lot to take from it.”
Gareth Southgate's line-up against Germany secured a 3-3 draw in the UEFA Nations League
Gareth Southgate's line-up against Germany secured a 3-3 draw in the UEFA Nations League
On the result and performance being a confidence boost

“Eight hours ago, not everything was wrong and now not everything is right. But the areas we weren’t delivering at the top end of the pitch looked so much brighter and sharper tonight. The final passes, ability to take people on, speed of attack. We failed to execute some of the opportunities but the fact we scored three and looked dangerous throughout is really important for the players. This group have only known good times and positivity with the national team so they have had to work through it. Some of the more senior players have been outstanding around the place.”

On the September camp as a whole

“The players asked if they could have a meeting on their own to talk things through and that was such a positive sign. They had talked through what they wanted to do with me and for me, the best football teams need outstanding leadership from the coaches but also have a real core of players who drive things. To have the right messages filtering through the group to keep people on track is crucial.

“We need to stay calm, we have players who have experienced moments like this with England – not so many now, which is why they are all learning together. We have to stick to what we’re doing. We have to improve in certain areas but we weren’t going to rip things up tonight, make eight changes and start throwing everything up in the air.

"We believe in what we are doing and we have to stick with that. The players took that on board and recognised it was an important moment. You can talk about team spirit when things are going well but the true test is in adversity. Having difficult conversations, whether with me or among themselves, is far more important.”

On the World Cup squad

“There are some really tight calls in certain positions and how they do with their club gives them an opportunity to influence that thinking. We wanted to pick a bigger squad to engage people and talk through certain things, so they were in tactical meetings and training sessions. We knew we weren’t going to hand loads of caps out, these were important matches to hone how we want to play, so it’s important to see how people react in those situations. The group dynamic has been a huge part of why we’ve done well in the past two tournaments.”

26 Sep 2022 2:23

Highlights: England 3-3 Germany

Watch the best of the action from Wembley as the Three Lions shared a thrilling draw with Germany