England's tactics are similar to those of Liverpool and European champions Chelsea, so says Gareth Southgate.

The Three Lions reached the final of Euro 2020, only to lose on penalties to Italy after a 1-1 draw at Wembley after extra time.

With a squad packed with attacking talent at his disposal, Southgate often faced clamour to find a way to fit as many of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden into his starting XI as possible.

While all those players played their part, Southgate started every game with a holding pivot of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips in midfield, with England lining up in a back three in the final itself.

England, who had the tightest defence at Euro 2020, conceding just two goals, were outshot by 19 to six in that match, with Luke Shaw's early goal their only attempt until Harry Kane headed over in the 58th minute.

Southgate's team are back in action on Thursday, facing Hungary in World Cup Qualifying Group I - England sit top with nine points from their three games so far.

Asked once again if he feels he has at times been too conservative with his approach, Southgate told a news conference: "I'm always looking at Chelsea who are the Champions League winners who play three attacking players.

"Liverpool play three attacking players normally. So what is required to win football matches at the very highest level? Most teams will get four in if they played two wide players, a 10 and a nine, or three forwards and an attacking eight.

"I don't see too many teams in world football who win things playing with five attacking players who have no tactical discipline or who have no balance to the team, so of course I understand people want to see exciting players. I get that. I think our goalscoring record is pretty strong compared to other nations.

"The teams that have won tournaments in the past were averaging 12 goals in those tournaments. We had 11, Italy got 13. We weren't far away on that. I think we play good football.

"I think we build the game. We retain possession of the ball. We need to do that better in the biggest matches when we are pressed intensely, without a doubt. But we can't get every attacking player on the pitch and some of them still have a long way to go to being the finished article.

"We have got some big players who have got us to a semi-final and a final, who have proved themselves in the biggest games on the biggest stage.

"We've got lots of guys with good reputations who haven't as yet necessarily won things with their clubs and who still have a lot to prove. That's going to be interesting to watch all those journeys this year, with us and with their clubs."

How did England perform in attack at Euro 2020?

While Southgate will rightly point to reaching a World Cup semi-final and then taking England to their first major tournament final since 1966 as evidence of the outstanding progress made, some questioning of his attacking plan does seem justified, however, based on the numbers from Euro 2020.

England did indeed score only two goals less than Italy at Euro 2020, with the Azzurri joint-top in that regard alongside semi-finalists Spain.

In terms of total chances created, England ranked fifth with 48, way behind leaders Italy (104), with Spain (86), Denmark (71) and Switzerland (52) also ahead of Southgate's team.

However, only Spain created more big chances – those defined by Opta as a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score – than England's tally of 16, with the Three Lions converting half of these opportunities.

A total of 189 passes or crosses into the area also ranked England behind the other three teams to make it to the semi-finals. 

Italy, Spain, Denmark and Switzerland all had more shots than England, despite there of them playing fewer matches, while nine teams scored at a faster rate (England managed a goal every 57.27 minutes, whereas tournament leaders Spain recorded a strike every 41.54 minutes).

Only Belgium recorded a better shot conversion rate than England, though.

Louis van Gaal has warned his Netherlands side that they still have some way to go before they can consider themselves "top of the world".

The Oranje drew 1-1 with Norway in World Cup qualifying Group G on Wednesday in Van Gaal's first match back in his third spell as coach of his country.

Erling Haaland opened the scoring at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo, but Davy Klaassen equalised in the first half.

The result leaves both the Netherlands and Norway a point behind Group G leaders Turkey, who were held to a 2-2 draw by Montenegro.

Van Gaal was not happy with his side's display and urged them to be more creative.

"We may think that this Dutch team is the top of the world, but it is not," he told NOS. "We have to function as a team. Norway has played very well as a team. Then you have to show the creativity that we lacked today.

"We lost the ball too carelessly in situations that we didn't have to. That is because the opposing team has defended in a very compact space. Then it is not so easy. Then you have to be very creative and firm on the ball, but we were not.

"I think Norway did a fantastic job. We were careless and that should not have been allowed, but that is also due to Norway's playing style.

"We have to make sure that we can play the ball around. I also said that at half-time we had to show courage and wait for the moment that we could play in depth, but we didn't succeed."

Van Gaal opted for a 4-3-3 formation, with Steven Berghuis and full debutant Cody Gakpo starting either side of Memphis Depay in attack.

Berghuis was replaced by Donyell Malen at half-time following a disappointing opening 45 minutes that saw the Ajax man fail to register a shot on goal.

Van Gaal was less than impressed by his side's wide players, but insists it is too early to abandon the formation.

"I think it's going too far to say after one game that we can't play 4-3-3," he added.

"That has to do with the form of the day of the players. But I said in advance that we are meagre at the outsides. That has become apparent today.

"If you are careless, you will not reach the goal.

"Working with young people keeps me young, that's why I like it. Also the tension of the competition. Too bad the execution was not so good."

The Netherlands are in action again on Saturday when they host Montenegro. 

Cristiano Ronaldo believes he is physically capable of playing at the highest level for another five years after making history with Portugal on Wednesday. 

The 36-year-old sent another record tumbling at the Estadio Algarve by becoming the all-time leading goalscorer in men’s international football, surpassing Ali Daei’s previous high of 109. 

Ronaldo scored a pair of late headers to bring Portugal from behind in a World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland and secure a 2-1 win, taking his tally for his country to 111 goals in the process. 

Despite turning 37 later this season, Ronaldo, who completed a return to Manchester United from Juventus this week, still believes he can continue to shine into his 40s. 

"I don't know what records are left. But what I want the most is to keep playing. I feel motivated and still have the strength to be able to put on a show for another three, four, five years," Ronaldo told Sport TV. 

He added to TNT Brasil: "It was a record I really wanted to break. After missing the penalty, I was a little sad for 10 minutes. But that's what football is about. We have to believe until the end. 

"The fans helped us a lot but the work of the team that believed prevails in the end."

Ronaldo was shown a yellow card for removing his shirt when celebrating his second goal, which came in the 96th minute, and will consequently miss Tuesday's meeting with Azerbaijan through suspension. 

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner failed to convert a first-half penalty and admitted the ban looming over him had slipped his mind as he wheeled away to celebrate at the end of an historic outing. 

"I forgot. It's the emotion of the game," said Ronaldo. "Maybe the coach will give me a hard time, but it doesn't matter. The important thing was to help the team. I’m sorry, but the emotions speak louder."

Portugal are scheduled to take on Qatar in a friendly on Saturday and Fernando Santos could decide to release Ronaldo from the team early due to his suspension. 

"We'll decide whether Ronaldo stays or leave. We have 24, 25 players. He won't go to Azerbaijan, it doesn't make sense," said Santos, who compared the United attacker to another Portugal great in an interview with RTP after the match. 

He said: "Ronaldo has always done this. Great players I like that when games sometimes don't seem to be going well. 

"Many years ago there was a coach called Jimmy Hagan [the Benfica boss when Santos was a youth player there]. I once asked him 'Why doesn't Eusebio go off when he isn't playing well?'

"And then when he's needed, where was Eusebio? This is what the great players do. They may not be doing well, but they show up with everything they have and solve games."

Cristiano Ronaldo declared that surpassing Ali Daei as the most prolific player in men's international football is "another record for the museum".

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner drew level with Iran great on 109 international goals during Euro 2020 but had to wait until Wednesday to make top spot his own. 

After seeing a first-half penalty saved in the World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland at the Estadio Algarve, Ronaldo restored parity with his landmark goal in the 89th minute. 

The Portugal captain then steered home a header deep in second-half stoppage time to complete a 2-1 turnaround win for the hosts. 

"It's another record for the museum," Ronaldo told RTP, as quoted by Diario Record. 

"I don't know if anyone has more records than me, but this is mine and it's unique. I'm extremely happy. 

"The secret is the motivation and the desire to continue playing football. It's getting up every day with a desire to do better, to make the fans, the family, my children happy. 

"I dedicate it to all Portuguese people, to the team, to my family."

John Egan put Ireland ahead on the stroke of half-time after 19-year-old goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu made Ronaldo wait for his crowning moment by keeping out his spot-kick. 

But the 36-year-old was not to be denied and guided in two headers in the space of seven minutes to make history.

"The team believed until the end. I believed until the end," said Ronaldo. 

"Ten minutes from the end, I asked for the support of the fans because when you're playing at home and the team are not combining on the pitch, the help of the fans is essential. They gave us strength. 

"I'm happy to score two goals, very happy to break the record, but the most important thing was the team."

Ronaldo was making his first appearance since his return to Manchester United from Juventus was confirmed, and he is looking forward to getting back to Old Trafford.

"I am very happy to be returning home, to a club I've always loved," he added. "I have a few more years left in my career and I still want to shine and get back to the best football, which is in the Premier League."

Another record went tumbling on Wednesday as Cristiano Ronaldo became the leading goalscorer in the history of international men's football.

Ronaldo, who completed a remarkable move to Manchester United this week, surpassed the tally of 109 set by Iran great Ali Daei.

The 36-year-old pulled level with Daei during the recent Euro 2020 tournament, but he reached 111 with a dramatic late double during the World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland at Estadio Algarve.

To mark the Portuguese superstar’s latest record, Stats Perform looked back at some of the milestone goals of his incredible career...

 

GOAL 100 – MANCHESTER UNITED 3-1 Tottenham (FA Cup, January 2008)

The first century of goals was completed in somewhat fortuitous circumstances, with a 22-year-old Ronaldo doubling his tally for the match with a deflected effort that squirmed under the body of goalkeeper Radek Cerny.

GOAL 200 – REAL MADRID 2-0 Valencia (LaLiga, December 2010)

Again, Ronaldo was on target twice in this match but it was his first strike – a measured left-footed finish from Mesut Ozil's assist – that took him onto 200 career goals.  

GOAL 300 – Granada 1-2 REAL MADRID (LaLiga, May 2012)

Madrid were behind in this game with only five minutes gone but levelled late on when Ronaldo converted a penalty that he had won. There was still time for title-winning Madrid to seal all three points courtesy of an own goal.

GOAL 400 – REAL MADRID 3-0 Celta Vigo (LaLiga, January 2014)

At the double once more, it was his second goal in injury time that brought up a quadruple century for the irrepressible Ronaldo, who turned home a fine cross from Gareth Bale. 

GOAL 500 – Malmo 0-2 REAL MADRID (Champions League, September 2015)

The first of two goals on an otherwise uneventful night in Sweden was the one that took Ronaldo to a tally of 500. Through one-on-one, the outcome was never in doubt as he confidently chipped the ball over Johan Wiland.

GOAL 600 – REAL MADRID 4-1 Juventus (Champions League, June 2017)

What a stage on which to make history, the Champions League final. Having already opened the scoring, Ronaldo struck again when he turned in Luka Modric's near-post delivery on a glorious night in Wales for Madrid. 

GOAL 700 – Ukraine 2-1 PORTUGAL (Euro 2020 Qualifying, October 2019)

The first of his landmark goals that has failed to help his side to victory, but an astonishing personal achievement nonetheless, Ronaldo slotted home his penalty and probably started thinking about reaching 800 soon after.

Cristiano Ronaldo became the leading goalscorer in the history of men's international football as his late double saw Portugal beat the Republic of Ireland 2-1 in World Cup qualifying Group A.

The 36-year-old, who completed a remarkable return to Manchester United this week, had earlier missed the chance to pull clear of Iran icon Ali Daei when his penalty was saved by Gavin Bazunu.

Stephen Kenny's side looked like they would take full advantage of that reprieve after John Egan put them ahead shortly before half-time.

As is so often the case, though, Ronaldo had the final say, drawing his side level with an 89th-minute header – his record-breaking 110th international goal – before sealing a memorable win in the dying embers of stoppage time with another trademark headed finish.

Erling Haaland was on target as Louis van Gaal had to settle for a 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw with Norway in his first match back in charge of the Netherlands.

Haaland opened the scoring with his first goal of Norway's qualifying campaign at the Ullevaal Stadion on Wednesday, but Davy Klaassen equalised in the first half.

Prolific Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland struck the post in the second half in Oslo, where neither side could fashion a winner.

A draw in Van Gaal's first game in his third spell as coach of his country leaves both the Netherlands and Norway a point behind Group G leaders Turkey, who were held to a 2-2 draw by Montenegro.

Cody Gakpo was handed a first Netherlands start and he had two early chances to open the scoring, Andre Hansen palming his header wide before the forward bent a shot wide from just outside the penalty area.

Oranje debutant Justin Bijlow came out quickly and made himself big to deny Haaland when Jens Hauge sent him clear with an incisive pass, but the Dortmund frontman put Norway in front 20 minutes in.

Memphis Depay was at fault, losing possession in his own half, and Haaland controlled a ball over the top from Stefan Strandberg before poking into the far corner with his left foot as returning captain Virgil van Dijk's desperate last-ditch tackle was in vain.

The Netherlands responded well and they were level nine minutes before the break, Klaassen bursting into the box to convert Georginio Wijnaldum's cross from close range.

Depay stung Hansen's palms and Donyell Malen, who replaced Steven Berghuis at half-time, flashed a shot wide as the Oranje dictated the play after the interval.

Haaland ought to have restored Norway's lead on the break after 64 minutes, when he rattled the inside of the post with a left-foot strike after Martin Odegaard slipped him in.

Denzel Dumfries missed a great chance to snatch all three points with the last kick of the game, but a late Montenegro equaliser was a boost for both sides.

 

 

 

Of all the individual achievements in Cristiano Ronaldo's career, this one may well rank the highest. 

The Portugal star is now the leading goalscorer in the history of international men's football, having reached 110 against the Republic of Ireland in World Cup qualifying on Wednesday despite seeing a first-half penalty saved.

Ronaldo surpassed the tally of 109 set by Iran great Ali Daei, a figure once thought unlikely ever to be beaten, in the 89th minute and moved onto 111 with a stoppage-time header in the Algarve to complete his double.

To honour the new Manchester United forward's latest record, Stats Perform picked out perhaps the 10 greatest goals he has scored in his remarkable career... 

 

Manchester United v Portsmouth: January 30, 2008

Perhaps the finest free-kick Ronaldo has struck in his career.

The Portuguese developed his reputation as a set-piece master at United and he lashed a phenomenal 25-yard effort past David James as part of a double to send Alex Ferguson's side to the top of the Premier League.

His knuckleball technique sent the ball swirling into the top-right corner for one of his defining Old Trafford moments.

Porto v Manchester United: April 15, 2009

He had absolutely no right to score this one.

Back in his homeland for a Champions League quarter-final against Porto, Ronaldo picked up the ball in the middle of the opposition half, got it out of his feet and sent a searing strike flying past Helton to seal a 1-0 win at the Estadio do Dragao and a 3-2 aggregate triumph.

 

Almeria v Real Madrid: April 15, 2010

Ronaldo has developed into more of a penalty-box poacher in recent seasons, but this effort against Almeria was a reminder of how devastating he could be when starting with the ball outside the area. 

Rafael van der Vaart won back possession in the Almeria half and the ball was worked to Ronaldo, who accelerated past two challenges, left a third defender for dead with a stepover and then drilled home with his left foot. The visitors would go on to win 2-1.

 

Sevilla v Real Madrid: December 17, 2011

Sevilla grew sick of the sight of Ronaldo during his time in Spain – he did score 27 times against them, after all – but this strike in a 6-2 thrashing is perhaps the best of them.

Collecting Karim Benzema's pass 30 yards out, Ronaldo took advantage of the time and space given to him by the defence to blast a shot into the top-right corner, the swerve on the ball making it totally unstoppable. It was one of three he scored that day at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

 

Real Madrid v Valencia: May 4, 2014

It was not enough to keep Madrid's title chase alive, but this was another goal that showcased Ronaldo's killer instinct and dexterity. 

In second-half injury time, with Valencia 2-1 ahead, Angel Di Maria volleyed over a cross from the left and Ronaldo swivelled to score a backheel volley and snatch a point.

 

Real Madrid v Espanyol: January 31, 2016

Although his game had become more refined from those buccaneering early days, Ronaldo showed here he was not quite done when it came to solo runs and spectacular finishes.

With Madrid already 3-0 up in what would prove to be a 6-0 thrashing, James Rodriguez's pass was deflected into Ronaldo's path and he did the rest, showing brilliant footwork to skip beyond three challenges before rifling home from the edge of the area with his left foot.

 

Hungary v Portugal: June 22, 2016

Portugal thrice fell behind to Hungary in Lyon during Euro 2016, and Ronaldo brought them level on the second occasion with a display of fine skill.

The captain added a deft flick with his trailing leg to Joao Mario's right-wing cross to make it 2-2, and he cancelled out Balazs Dzsudzsak's second with a double of his own. It was enough to send Portugal into the knockout stages and from there they claimed a maiden international title.

 

Juventus v Real Madrid: April 3, 2018

Arguably the finest goal Ronaldo has produced.

Moving away from goal as Dani Carvajal dug a cross towards the penalty spot from the right, the Portuguese rose into the air and connected with a stunning overhead kick. His leg was at a right angle to his body as he struck with the sweetest of volleys that flew past an idle Gianluigi Buffon.

Portugal v Spain: June 15, 2018

Having twice given his side the lead, Ronaldo found Portugal 3-2 down to their Iberian neighbours in their thrilling opener at the 2018 World Cup. 

While there was a sense of inevitability when he stood over an 88th-minute free-kick, the execution was sheer perfection – power and dip combined to leave David de Gea with no chance.

 

Juventus v Manchester United: November 8, 2018

Another decorated Portuguese was celebrating at full-time when Jose Mourinho watched his United team complete a 2-1 comeback win.

But Ronaldo struck first with a sumptuous and technically brilliant strike, watching Leonardo Bonucci's raking ball over his shoulder to volley home.  

Cristiano Ronaldo is now the leading goalscorer in the history of men's international football after breaking Ali Daei's world record. 

The Portugal star, who completed a stunning return to Manchester United this week, scored late on in Wednesday's World Cup qualifying clash against the Republic of Ireland to bring up his 110th international goal. 

Ronaldo's record-breaking goal came in the final minute of normal time. Moments after he saw a free-kick parried away by Gavin Buzunu, the 36-year-old was on hand to plant a trademark header into the bottom-left corner from Goncalo Guedes' teasing cross.

He scored twice in the Euro 2020 meeting with France on June 23 to match Daei on 109 goals in senior matches for Portugal. 

The 36-year-old, along with Iran great Daei, is one of only two men to score more than 100 times in international matches. 

 

He scored his first Portugal goal back in June 2004, heading in a Luis Figo cross in a 2-1 group-stage defeat to eventual European champions Greece.

Ronaldo's 100th goal came 16 years later when he scored a free-kick in a 2-0 Nations League win over Sweden in September last year.

His favourite opponents are Sweden and Lithuania, against whom he has scored seven times.

France failed to bounce back from their surprise Euro 2020 elimination as they were held to a 1-1 draw in 2022 World Cup qualifying by Bosnia-Herzegovina, finishing with 10 men. 

Les Bleus, who went out in the last 16 of the European Championship after a shock penalty shoot-out loss to Switzerland, fell behind to Edin Dzeko’s 36th-minute strike in Strasbourg on Wednesday but were quickly back on terms following a fortuitous goal for Antoine Griezmann. 

Didier Deschamps' side would have been expecting to push on for a win to go six points clear of second-placed Ukraine, who drew 2-2 with Kazakhstan earlier on Wednesday, in the second half of the Group D clash. 

However, after a deadline-day switch from Sevilla to Chelsea failed to materialise, Jules Kounde was shown a red card for a lunge on Sead Kolasinac following a VAR check and France had to settle for a point. 

Kylian Mbappe missed the decisive penalty against Switzerland but went close to getting back on the scoresheet when his effort from the tightest of angles crashed behind off the near post in the 27th minute. 

Miralem Pjanic warmed the gloves of Hugo Lloris before Dezko seized upon a wayward Thomas Lemar pass and drilled a fine 20-yard effort through Presnel Kimpembe's legs and into the bottom-right corner. 

France were somewhat lucky to restore parity three minutes later. Dzeko headed a corner against Griezmann's back and following a VAR check it was clear Ibrahim Sehic had failed to keep the ball out after a slight touch off Dennis Hadzikadunic. 

Aurelien Tchouameni was sent on for his debut at half-time but France's plan was thrown into disarray following Kounde's late tackle on Kolasinac, who had to be replaced by Eldar Civic. 

Bosnia had a couple of chances to steal a famous win, but Smail Prevljak and Pjanic were unable to find the target with their efforts inside the final five minutes.
 

Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest footballer of all time and will have a "huge impact" on Manchester United after rejoining the club, according to Red Devils captain Harry Maguire.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo sealed a shock switch from Juventus to United on Tuesday, returning to the club where he spent six seasons earlier in his career.

The Portugal captain scored 118 goals in 292 appearances for United the first time around, helping the club to eight major honours during that successful period.

He remained prolific across nine years with Real Madrid and three with Juventus, scoring a combined 551 goals in 572 matches in all competitions.

Ronaldo is set to make his second United debut against Newcastle United on September 11 and Maguire cannot wait to link up with the superstar forward.

"It's amazing," Maguire said at a news conference on Wednesday while away on England duty. "Obviously I'm here at the moment so my focus on is on tomorrow's game.

"But for him to sign back for the club, for me the greatest player to play the game, it's amazing to have him and I'm sure he's going to have a huge impact on and off the field.

"Many players can look and learn and improve and then obviously it's going to improve our team as well with this goal scoring record, so it's amazing to have him in the club.

"I'm looking forward to meeting him in a few days."

Maguire is set to start England's World Cup qualifying clash with Hungary in Budapest on Thursday – the Three Lions' first match since losing the Euro 2020 final to Italy.

Gareth Southgate's men have won all three Group I matches so far but Maguire has warned his team-mates they must be ready for the showdown with second-placed Hungary.

"We need to be because it's going to be a tough test away to Hungary," he said. "If we're not ready mentally we won't perform our best and we won't get the result we need.

"The mentality of the squad will be tested and we need to overcome that and can show what we're about."

England are unbeaten in their past 13 matches against Hungary, winning 11 of those, since losing four in a row between 1953 and 1962 by an aggregate score of 17-5.

The Three Lions have only lost one of their past 50 matches in qualifying for the Euros and World Cup, meanwhile, going down 2-1 to the Czech Republic in October 2019.

Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer have been ruled out of Germany's first match under new head coach Hansi Flick.

Bayern Munich attacker Muller has returned to his club for treatment on an adductor problem, which will see him miss the games with Liechtenstein, Armenia and Iceland over the next week.

Club-mate Neuer has missed training this week with a minor ankle issue, meanwhile, and will be replaced by Bernd Leno in goal for Thursday's meeting with Liechtenstein.

But Flick, who took over as Germany boss following the exit of long-serving Joachim Low, is hopeful of having Neuer back for the visit of Armenia three days later. 

"We assume that 'Manu' will be back for Sunday," Flick said at a news conference on Wednesday previewing the Group J clash with minnows Liechtenstein.

"Everyone could see that he did not take part in practice. He won't be available for the match against Liechtenstein and Bernd Leno will take his place. 

"Thomas Muller will leave the camp. He's got an injury to the adductors. This won't heal fast enough for Sunday or next Wednesday. 

"Wednesday could have actually worked out according to our doctor, but the risk was simply too high. 

"He would not have been able to do a lot of work in practice which is why it makes sense to send him home. We have enough players on board and are able to replace him."

Thursday's match in St. Gallen will be Germany's first without Low in charge since July 2006, the World Cup-winning coach having officially stepped down after his nation's last-16 loss to England at Euro 2020. 

Flick previously worked as Low's assistant for eight years until after Germany's World Cup success in Brazil when leaving to become Die Mannschaft's sporting director.

He has more recently spent time in charge of Bayern and helped the Bavarian giants to seven major honours across two seasons.

The 56-year-old is now tasked with lifting Germany after a disappointing end to the Low tenure, which included a shock 2-1 home loss to North Macedonia in their most recent qualifier five months ago.

"I'm looking forward to my first international game and the responsibility for the nation," said Flick, who has still yet to decide who will captain the side.

"During the first training sessions we saw exactly what we imagined. The team was active and showed enormous intensity and quality. 

"What I liked was that they immediately tried to correct their mistakes, went into pressing straight after a lost ball. The whole coaching staff was extremely happy about that. 

"Those are the things we want to see: a mentality on the pitch where you can see from the beginning that the team is giving everything they have for Germany. 

"This is crucial for me. It was nice to see. That's why we are totally convinced of this team."

Flick is now an established manager in his own right, but he is open to taking inspiration from others as he embarks on his first managerial job on the international stage.

"All players have great coaches. Thomas Tuchel is doing exceptional work at Chelsea, Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, Marco Rose at Borussia Dortmund. I can name them all," he said. 

"All of them have an idea of football which is close to ours. We can implement certain parts in our game to improve. That is crucial. The communication with the coaches is top, I enjoy it very much. 

"We adapt from time to time. The decisive thing is that everyone is open to our idea of football and what we want to play. I was able to see that during the training sessions we've had so far."

Germany are third in Group J after three rounds of matches, level on points with North Macedonia and three points behind surprise pacesetters Armenia, with only the group winner guaranteed a place at Qatar 2022.

Gareth Southgate warned England must "start again" ahead of two "hugely challenging" World Cup qualifiers away to Hungary and Poland in the next week.

Southgate says the Three Lions have grown in confidence as a result of a run to the final of Euro 2020.

England have turned their attention to qualifying for the World Cup in Doha next year following the heartbreak of losing to Italy in the final of the European Championship at Wembley.

They lead Group I with a 100 per cent record from three matches, but face a big test against second-placed Hungary at the Puskas Arena on Thursday.

England face Andorra at Wembley on Sunday before a trip to take on Poland at the Stadion Narodowy next Wednesday.

Three Lions boss Southgate, who revealed winger Jadon Sancho is being assessed after taking a "small knock" in training, urged his side to kick on after they came agonisingly close to Euro 2020 glory on home soil.

"The players have gained confidence from what they've achieved [at Euro 2020] and the progress that they've made, not only this summer but over the last four years," he said.

"Equally, we have to start again. The chance to have another run like that is under way. Mentally, it's a very big test for us, we've got to go away from home now, 60,000 fans, they're a very good team to play against.

"We've got to be able to pick results up away from home. The two away games this week will be hugely challenging – two good teams and pivotal games in terms of qualification.

"Hungary are a good side, they've taken points off Poland, they took a point off France in the summer and off Germany."

Southgate added of the threat posed by Hungary: "If we allow them to play, they can play. If we dominate possession, they are very resilient.

"France had that problem, and it took Portugal over 80 minutes to score [against Hungary] in the summer. They are a very well organised team and we've got to be at our very best."

Southgate wants England to take charge of the group by stepping up in Budapest and Warsaw.

He said: "It is an important opportunity for us. If you can take points off your nearest challengers in their own home, then it puts us in a really strong position and we'd be in control of the group."

The first international break of the 2021-22 campaign has arrived, and with it comes an opportunity for many national teams to start afresh.

Following the conclusion of the Copa America, Gold Cup and Euro 2020 in quick succession, all roads now lead to the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

For a number of players, the September qualifiers provide an opportunity to make an impression, while for others it is potentially a first taste of international football. 

With the games coming thick and fast over the next week or so, Stats Perform has looked at those in contention to make their senior international debuts.

Albert Sambi Lokonga (Belgium)

Belgium's golden generation of talent missed another opportunity to turn promise into something more tangible when losing to eventual winners Italy in the Euro 2020 quarter-finals.

Roberto Martinez has decided against wholesale changes after that disappointment, with Lokonga the only outfield player in line for his first cap, having failed to get further than the bench – against Greece in June – after previous call-ups.

A product of the same Anderlecht youth system that oversaw the development of Romelu Lukaku, Youri Tielemans and Leander Dendoncker, among others, Lokonga sealed a move to Arsenal in July after impressing in the Belgian top flight.

The £15million signing has not had the best of starts to life at Arsenal, the Gunners finding themselves bottom of the English top-flight table having played at least three league matches for the first time since October 1974.

Lokonga, noted for his ability to play in front of the defence, featured in just two of those games yet still trails Granit Xhaka alone in terms of passes (113 to 139) and successful passes (97 to 118) and is behind only Sead Kolasinac for interceptions.

 

Claudinho (Brazil)

Citing concerns over the availability of his European-based contingent due to clubs being reluctant to release players to red-list countries, Tite has named a bloated Brazil squad for this month's triple-header of World Cup qualifiers.

Those complications appear set to deny Raphinha a debut, having impressed during his first year in the Premier League with Leeds United. 

Raphinha ranks seventh in the division for dribbles attempted since the start of last season (142), completing 42.96 per cent of those. He also ranks in the top 10 for chances created over that period with 68.

But Claudinho remains in line to be capped for the first time, called up after helping his country secure Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020.

The midfielder, whose signing at Zenit was announced not long after the Olympic tournament had concluded, described his call-up as "a dream come true".

Theo Hernandez and Moussa Diaby (France)

It is out with the old and in with the new as far as France's first post-Euros squad is concerned – to an extent, at least, with Olivier Giroud one of nine players to make way from the previous group named by Didier Deschamps.

Injuries have also played a part in that, potentially giving a quartet of uncapped players the chance to impress in the upcoming qualifiers with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine and Finland.

Hernandez, a more natural left-back option than brother Lucas, will feel his first call-up is long overdue following back-to-back campaigns as a regular for Milan, whom he joined from Real Madrid. 

Since making his Rossoneri bow in September 2019, no defender in Serie A has completed more dribbles than Hernandez (133), while only Federico Dimarco (87) and Juan Cuadrado (107) have created more chances than his 86.

Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni and Roma's Jordan Veretout may also feature during this international break, but perhaps the most exciting of the new additions is Bayer Leverkusen winger Diaby.

The Paris Saint-Germain product scored twice and assisted another in Leverkusen's opening two Bundesliga games of 2021-22, while Alphonso Davies is the only player in the division to have attempted more dribbles this term (24 to his 22).

Known for his blistering pace and ability to take on opponents, Diaby could well provide Deschamps with a different option in an attack already packed full of talent.

 

Otavio (Portugal)

Three new players have been called up by Fernando Santos, who is looking to the future after his Portugal side's reign as European champions came to an end in July.

Goncalo Inacio is injured, but Diogo Costa and Otavio could each make their senior debuts during this international window, with the latter the name on many lips right now.

Otavio has tallied 11 goal involvementss in each of the past two Primeira Liga campaigns for Porto and has made a fast start to the new season with two assists in his first four games.

Since the start of last season, only team-mate Mehdi Taremi has provided more assists (12) in the Portuguese top flight than Otavio's 10, coming from 51 chances created.

The Brazilian-born attacking midfielder was granted Portuguese citizenship earlier this year and will be eager to show that Brazil's loss is very much Portugal's gain should he get some minutes over the next week.

Ricardo Pepi (United States)

The dual-national drama surrounding Pepi appears to have reached a resolution as the FC Dallas forward has seemingly pledged his allegiance to the United States over Mexico.

After breaking into the Dallas side two years ago and featuring regularly last year, 2021 has been quite the season for the El Paso-born youngster.

Pepi, who does not turn 19 until next January, has 11 goals and two assists in 21 games this term and scored the decisive kick in last week's penalty shoot-out win for MLS against their Liga MX counterparts in the All-Star Game.

He has 13 MLS goals in total, the fourth-most ever by a teenager – ahead of Freddy Adu – and just nine short of the record held by Diego Fagundez.

On the basis of the past four months in particular, the USMNT could have a potentially world-class player to lead their line for a number of years to come.

 

Karim Adeyemi (Germany)

For the first time in 17 years, Germany will play a match without Joachim Low in their dugout either as assistant or head coach when they face Liechtenstein on Thursday.

Hansi Flick is tasked with ushering in a new generation of German talents, with help from the old guard, many of whom were key to his successful spell at Bayern Munich.

Away from regulars such as Thomas Muller, Leon Goretzka, Joshua Kimmich and Manuel Neuer, Flick has included four uncapped players in his first squad – David Raum, Nico Schlotterbeck, Florian Wirtz and Adeyemi.

A technically gifted and supremely fast winger, Adeyemi has long been considered one of Germany's most promising young players, having cost Salzburg a reported €3m when he was 16.

Adeyemi, who left Bayern six years earlier, has been given the chance to spread his wings with Salzburg and has been strongly linked with Red Bull sister club RB Leipzig.

He already has six goals in six Austrian Bundesliga appearances this term, just one less than he managed in 29 top-flight appearances last time out – a return he will be looking to build on if he is given the nod by Flick.

Justin Bijlow (Netherlands)

The Netherlands are another European heavyweight going through a transitional period of sorts after turning to veteran coach Louis van Gaal for a third stint in charge.

Frank de Boer failed to get the most out of this talented Dutch squad and already Van Gaal has put his own mark on the team by calling up a few newbies.

There will be plenty of focus on the goalkeeping position as, with Jasper Cillessen not fully fit and Maarten Stekelenburg recently retiring, Joel Drommel and Bijlow can stake a claim to be the long-term number one.

Bijlow is considered one of the finest young goalkeepers in Europe and already has 45 Eredivisie games under his belt for Feyenoord, where he is a real fan favourite.

The 23-year-old has kept 15 clean sheets across those appearances and boasts a save percentage of 72.16. Van Gaal can seemingly rely on the young stopper, as he has made just one error leading to a goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo will play in all three of Portugal's fixtures during the international break following his return to Manchester United, head coach Fernando Santos said.

Ronaldo completed his United comeback on Tuesday, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner re-joining the Red Devils from Juventus for a second spell following his successful first stint at Old Trafford between 2003 and 2009.

Amid the hype in Manchester, Ronaldo's attention has swiftly turned to matters with Portugal as Santos' men prepare to face Republic of Ireland on Wednesday.

Portugal will also meet Qatar in a friendly on Saturday before resuming their road to Qatar 2022 against Azerbaijan on Tuesday.

As Ronaldo stands on the cusp of breaking his tie with Ali Daei for the most international goals in men's football (109), Santos confirmed the 36-year-old's availability.

"I am interested in [Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes'] motivation while playing for the national team. You're a British journalist, you can ask them about Manchester United when they are back at their club," Santos told reporters.

"For me, the important thing is that they will be focused on the national team. I can say that they are motivated for the three matches we have ahead of us.

"There is no doubt that Ronaldo and all the players are able to play against Ireland. I understand all the attention we get because of him. He is going to play in three matches.

"We will have to manage some things, mostly in the second match, we will have to manage things. It will not be easy for the players to play three matches in seven days.

"We have to manage them across all the games, but mostly the second. It is always important because it is a national team match."

Formerly a dazzling winger but now a penalty-box poacher, Ronaldo has netted 674 times across 895 club games in all competitions, averaging a goal every 108 minutes.

Those 674 goals break down into 122 with his supposedly weaker left foot, 110 with his head and 440 with his favoured right boot.

Following his arrival as a fresh-faced teenager from Sporting in 2003, he scored 118 times for United across 292 appearances before his departure in 2009.

Between his entrance on the Premier League stage and his final appearance in May 2009, Frank Lampard (131) and Thierry Henry (124) are the only two to have a hand in more English top-flight goals than Ronaldo (118) – Henry (92) the only one to outscore Ronaldo's 84.

Ronaldo is a five-time winner of the Champions League, leading the all-time scoring charts with 134 goals in 176 games – 14 ahead of second place, and eternal rival, Lionel Messi.

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