Southgate was an unused substitute when England thrashed Germany 5-1 in the last time the two nations met in Munich back in September, 2001 when a Michael Owen hat-trick inspired a famous victory for Glenn Hoddle’s side.
But as England boss Southgate remembered, Germany never know when they are beaten because they reached the World Cup final less than a year later. Three Lions boss Southgate’s men suffered a rare defeat in the Nations League against Hungary on Saturday and must bounce back in a hugely difficult test in the Allianz Arena.
Now they have to show mental strength and belief and Southgate admits they can learn a lot from their great footballing rivals if they want to be perennial winners in the biggest tournaments. Southgate said: “For me, Germany and Brazil are still the benchmark in terms of the countries who have regularly, consistently won tournaments, even when everyone will talk about the 5-1 here, they ended up in the World Cup final of the back of that qualifying campaign.
“You have to respect what they’ve been as a country and what they are a country in footballing terms. They are never in the doldrums for long. I know Oliver Bierhoff quite well from working in the development teams over the years and he is a really outstanding person who will be behind them, constantly reflecting and reviewing everything they do.
“Hansi Flick has been there with the team in Brazil and won the Champions League with Bayern so they are going to be heading in a very positive direction. That mentality is what we’re trying to create and we’ve got to keep getting to the latter stages of competitions and games like tomorrow are brilliant for us, exactly the sort of test we need.”
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Southgate laughed at the notion that Munich was a lucky place for England but admits he cannot explain why that Golden Generation – with the players from 2001 – did not really live up to their promise. “I am still trying to work out why it’s such a good place for us to come bar that one night!” he laughed. “It was a stand out night. I don’t know whether the result affected that team. It had some incredible players, some incredible high achieving serial winning players.
“For various reasons – in international football where something can be decided in five minutes – they didn’t quite get over the line and get to where their collective ability and experience should probably have taken them. Wayne Rooney ’s injury…I was only watching that documentary with him recently and forgetting how phenomenal he was in that 2004 tournament and what a big moment that injury was. They are the margins in big tournaments.”
Southgate knows he is judged after setback including defeat in Hungary. That is why they must bounce back straight away. Southgate added: “You are rightly judged every time you field a team and play a match. There is always something to prove and be answerable to. You have to accept as a manager that there are time you lose games and you have to deal with that and manage that. I am not gonna sit here arrogantly and say what happened in the past, just judge me on that. I think with England you have to keep producing and we want to be a team that wins consistently.”