England's away trip to Munich was supposed to be the game they could afford to lose at a push and still succeed in their latest Nations League pursuit. That is no longer the case.
Following a flat and tired performance in Hungary, avoiding defeat is now essential for Gareth Southgate's men or else risk sliding out of the reckoning. Which makes it somewhat annoying that lying in wait for them in Bavaria is a greatly improved Germany.
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Fatigue and rotation
Gareth Southgate's starting eleven against Hungary last Saturday were battle-wearied from a long and arduous 2021/22. Between them, they had played 442 competitive fixtures since last summer's Euros, racking up a combined 38,933 minutes in the process, and that's just for their clubs.
Consequently, the will was there in Budapest, but the ways and means to execute their usual passing patterns and creative endeavours was absent and if this doesn't wholly excuse an avoidable loss, it largely explains it.
Being acutely aware of this, the England gaffer now faces a conundrum when selecting his side to take on Germany, possibly one that slightly deviates from his original plans. Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka were always going to be recalled, the latter having come on last weekend for the injured James Justin. Reece James meanwhile is almost a cert, allowing a fatigued Trent Alexander-Arnold to drop out.
But what of Declan Rice, who has played more minutes this season than any of his team-mates? It would be a big shout to rest a player who has become England's midfield bedrock in recent times and most likely Southgate will once again turn to his preferred spine of Pickford, Maguire, Rice and Kane.
In doing so, he will be hoping to wring some last remaining horsepower from flogged thoroughbreds.
The biggest repercussion of this collective lethargy was evidenced at the back, with a usually watertight rear-guard by-passed too easily. In Hungary, the Three Lions afforded more shots on target than in their previous two outings combined.
A very different Germany
Consecutive draws in Holland and Italy have led to some questioning whether Hansi Flick's new-look Germany are flat-track bullies, capable of pulverising minnows in qualifying campaigns only to meet their match when pitted against elite fare. It is a harsh assessment and very possibly a wrong one.
First off, sharing the spoils away to such dangerous opposition will always represent a decent return no matter what. Then we acknowledge that with a bit more of a clinical edge in Italy - an edge they usually possess - Die Mannschaft would have further improved on what is a superb record since Flick took the reins.
It is a record with impressive stats though they only tell half the story. Still, they are worth highlighting.
After meekly exiting last year's Euros to England, the former Bayern boss has overseen a dramatic and immediate transformation, with Germany subsequently unbeaten in ten. In those 900 minutes of football, they have conceded only four times. In those 900 minutes of football the aggregate score-line is 35-4.
Averaging 3.5 goals-per-game tells of a more adventurous, attack-minded side though they tend to need a few rehearsals in front of goal. The bulk of Germany's goal-haul post-Euros have come in the second period with even four of their first-half goals scored in the 45th minute.
Reset to common sense
So how did this reset come about? In short, via the application of some good old-fashioned common sense.
In both personnel and tactics, Flick has leaned heavily on his successful Bayern era, setting his side up as a 4-2-3-1 and charging Kimmich and Goretzka to orchestrate from deep. Germany press hard and fast in the final third now and here's an interesting idea that appeared to be completely lost on his predecessor Joachim Lowe: players are utilised in their best positions.
It's a transformation that has been helped by the emergence of some highly promising youth, most notably Bayern's teenage sensation Jamal Musiala who ignites any pitch he sets foot on.
Yet, for this particular contest it's the old guard who stand out. Thomas Muller has been reinvigorated on the international stage under his old club boss and typically comes to the fore in the biggest games. Ilkay Gundogan meanwhile will possibly be picked for his integral knowledge of the opposition and it's fair to say the Manchester City schemer ended his league season on a high, scoring twice on the final day.
A year and a lifetime ago
Such is Germany's comprehensive overhaul from an aging husk to a reimagined, forward-thinking unit, it is tempting to believe that little can be sourced from last summer's Euro last-16 clash. On that memorable evening, England enjoyed a first triumph over their old foe in a knockout stage for 55 years.
And to an extent, that holds true though it's certainly pertinent that Saka made a substantial impact 12 months ago and Germany will be fearful of a repeat performance. Sterling meanwhile was a threat throughout, scoring for good measure and it's also worth noting that Jack Grealish had one of his best games in an England shirt, albeit in a cameo role.
More so, this is a side that has only failed to score three times in their last 25 fixtures. They may be knackered. They may well lose. But they'll throw a few good punches on their way down.