8 min: Foden drives down the middle and finds Kane in acres on the right. Kane tries to return the ball to Foden, racing into the box, but the cross is too long. Goal kick. Both teams are beginning to warm up.
7 min: A lot of space now for Musiala, who takes advantage by powering down the middle. He’s got options either side, but loses concentration momentarily, slows down, and allows Rice to get back and put a stop to his gallop. The move’s momentum broken, Schlotterbeck sends a simple pass out of play.
5 min: A lot of space for Shaw to run into down the left. All Kane needs to do is find him and England are away. The captain flays a pass carelessly out for a throw.
4 min: All a bit scrappy, so the band strike up a tune. When there’s something to report, you’ll be the first to know.
2 min: Maguire sprays a pass down the right for Kane, who exchanges passes with James and nearly wins the first corner of the game. Otherwise, a fairly slow start, and Wembley is no longer at full voice. Fairly subdued at the minute.
23 sec: Kane sticks his arm under Schlotterbeck’s throat, and looks offended when the whistle goes for a free kick. You’ve seen bookings for less, but 23 seconds in is 23 seconds in.
Germany get the ball rolling. Wembley finds its voice again.
One of those minutes is held in silence in memory of Queen Elizabeth II. Sir Geoff Hurst and a representative of the German FA lay wreathes. Then Wembley’s lights dip. The moment impeccably observed.
The teams are out! Plenty of the old noise as England and Germany take to the pitch. Then the national anthems. The Song of Germany, followed by God Save the King. We’ll be off in a couple of minutes.
Gareth Southgate takes positivity to a new level when interviewed by Channel 4. “We felt tonight was a good opportunity to start Luke Shaw. He’s a super player. We thought Eric Dier coming back into the side played really well. We’ve got lots of good players on the bench. We’ve got a big squad and four right-backs of super quality. At the moment Kieran Trippier is playing exceptionally well, and Reece James has been one of the outstanding players in the league at the start of the season. But we know Trent is a very, very good footballer and that’s why we picked him in the squad. It’s been a testing week, but these are necessary steps for a team to go through sometimes. The players have been exceptional in the way they’ve stepped up. We’re going to be playing under pressure when we go to the World Cup, so it doesn’t do us any harm to be in that situation already.”
Harry Kane (74 caps, 50 goals) speaks to Channel 4 (P5, W0, D2, L3): “We need to be more clinical. We got into good areas the other night, but didn’t have the final pass or the final run. In these big games it’s the fine margins, so hopefully we can put that right tonight. We’ve worked hard in the two days we’ve had and hopefully it’ll be our night tonight. We know it’s going to be a tough game. We need to play our own game.”
Another memory of 1966 and all that. England will be wearing red shirts tonight. Captain Harry Kane will also wear the anti-discrimination armband he’ll sport in Qatar. Germany step out in their new monochrome Ajax number.
This is England’s first international at home since the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. She’s commemorated on the cover of tonight’s match programme by the iconic image of her handing over the Jules Rimet Trophy to Bobby Moore at Wembley in 1966.
There will also be black corner flags, while fans will form a mosaic of the flag of St George while belting out God Save the King for the first time at an England game for over 70 years.
Gareth Southgate makes two changes to his starting XI in the wake of the defeat in Italy. John Stones and Luke Shaw are back, with Kyle Walker and Bukayo Saka dropping to the bench. Ivan Toney is also named as a sub, hoping to come on for his debut. Fikayo Tomori and Trent Alexander-Arnold were the two big names omitted from the squad. Stones, back from suspension, will make up a back three with Harry Maguire and Eric Dier.
Hansi Flick makes four changes to his starting XI after the loss to Hungary. Kai Havertz of Chelsea, West Ham’s Thilo Kehrer, former England youth and current Bayern Munich star Jamal Musiala, and Borussia Dortmund’s Nico Schlotterbeck are in. They replace Thomas Muller, Timo Werner and Serge Gnabry, who drop to the bench, and the suspended Antonio Rudiger.
England: Pope, James, Stones, Dier, Maguire, Shaw, Rice, Bellingham, Foden, Sterling, Kane.
Subs: Trippier, Ramsdale, Henderson, Walker, Coady, Guehi, Saka, Mount, Toney, Chilwell, Henderson, Abraham.
Germany: ter Stegen, Kehrer, Sule, Schlotterbeck, Raum, Kimmich, Gundogan, Hofmann, Musiala, Sane, Havertz.
Subs: Baumann, Ginter, Arnold, Werner, Gnabry, Trapp, Muller, Henrichs, Bella-Kotchap, Gosens.
Referee: Danny Makkelie (Netherlands).
Of course, on the one hand, this means absolutely nothing. Germany can’t win the group and make it to the finals; England are already relegated from the top tier. But that’s just the price. What about the value?
Germany could do with a result in their last serious test before the World Cup in November, especially after losing at home to Hungary on Friday evening. But England are even more desperate, after two draws and three defeats in their last five games, one of those losses their biggest setback at home since the 1920s. They haven’t scored a goal from open play in over seven hours of football; with Gareth Southgate booed off after the last two games, it would seem all the goodwill earned by appearances in the 2018 World Cup semis and the Euro 2020 final has, fairly or unfairly, pretty much drained away.
A win tonight against one of the old enemies, in England’s last match before Qatar, would cut Southgate some precious slack. Anything else will ratchet up the pressure and sour the national mood for the entirety of the two-month run-up to the World Cup. No biggie, then. Kick off at Wembley is at 7.45pm BST. It’s on!