Last night at Wembley, old rivals went head to head once again as England squared off against the old enemy – Germany.
The Three Lions had been on a pretty dire run of form heading into the contest, to the point where many were actually calling for the head of Gareth Southgate before the start of the World Cup. Yes, that’s the same Gareth Southgate who got England to the semi-finals of the WC in 2018 and to the final of the Euros just last year. Football fans are fickle, aren’t they?
The match on Monday seemed to be going down a similar route with Germany eventually building a 2-0 lead, but in a bizarre 12-minute period, the hosts unleashed themselves on their rivals with three goals in what proved to be a pretty remarkable turnaround.
Of course, the drama wasn’t over there, as the Germans equalised through an error by Nick Pope, leaving the final scoreline at 3-3.
Aside from having a few issues to iron out with regards to the goalkeeping situation, as well as making sure Harry Maguire is nowhere near the starting XI, we’d say England’s fightback is the exact reason why there should be a renewed sense of hope as the countdown to Qatar really gets underway.
England’s World Cup group will feature the United States, Wales and Iran, three nations that they should be beating relatively comfortably – and we don’t say that lightly.
From there, it really is a case of building momentum, which is something this team has done pretty well across the last couple of tournaments. Gareth Southgate knows better than most what it means to get the very best out of his team, regardless of whether or not they’re seen as ‘well prepared’ or even necessarily good enough.
This is definitely a squad that needs some fine-tuning and there isn’t a whole lot of time in which they can do that, but the same can be said for the other 31 nations that will take to the pitch in the winter World Cup.
It all feels a little bit strange this year given how it’s going to be played (mainly where), and how astonishingly low the expectations are for the team, but that should feed into the idea that this England side are going to be underdogs again – especially once they’ve made their way out of the group.
We don’t think it’s at all ridiculous to suggest the semi-finals, at a bare minimum, are a possibility, and even beyond that shouldn’t be out of the question.
There are teams out there that should be feared and the fact it goes from the Euros to the entire planet is intimidating, but in reality, the majority of the favourites are going to stem from Europe – and we firmly believe England should be in that conversation.
If things go south in Qatar then Southgate’s position should almost certainly come under severe threat, but until that moment comes, let’s get the beer in and start dreaming about it coming home.