Thomas Muller lauded his side's acceptance of risk, following Germany's 5-2 win at home to Italy in the Nations League on Tuesday.

Muller was among the scorers for Die Mannschaft, who led 5-0 at one stage in Monchenglabach after Timo Werner's second of the night. Joshua Kimmich and Ilkay Gundogan were the other scorers for Germany, handing the home side a 2-0 lead at the interval.

Germany sit second in Group A3 after four games, following draws in the opening three matches characterised by high volumes of passive possession.

Especially after early exits at the past three major tournaments, however, the 32-year-old is buoyed by Germany's play under Hansi Flick despite ever-present room for improvement.

"One good aspect that we brought into play today is that we actually played a little more risky and had more courage," Muller told ZDF. "To accept the risk of losing the ball with the knowledge of snatching away the second ball. So, objective courage and not emotional courage.

"If we understand that a little better on the offensive, that a cross that doesn't lead directly to the goal becomes dangerous with the second ball if we are positioned like that, then we'll make life easier for us.

"We have good players, we have a good attitude and a good project going on. But we still have all sorts of deficits, you have to be honest."

Germany again dominated in possession but were able to translate that into good chances in front of goal on Tuesday, with Joshua Kimmich's opening goal in the 10th minute setting the tone.

The home side were levels above the reigning European champions, who fielded an inexperienced starting lineup and conceded five goals for the first time in a single match since 1957.

For Muller, who insisted he does not see himself playing much longer at international level, it was an affirmation of Germany's quality.

"We have everything to be able to beat anyone on a good day," he said. "We still have to improve on the football-savvy things, like wanting to do the right thing. We won a lot of second balls and that made the game easier for us.

"I know I won't play 50 more international matches. Let's see what happens in the next two or three years, but I'm enjoying it a lot at the moment."

A defiant Gianluigi Donnarumma claimed he will have his "head held high" following Italy's 5-2 defeat away to Germany in the Nations League on Tuesday.

Germany led 5-0 at one stage in Monchengladbach and wearing the captain's armband, the Azzurri goalkeeper had a disappointing night personally, with Timo Werner pinching the ball off him before making it 4-0.

Goals from Wilfried Gnonto and Alessandro Bastoni provided small consolation late for Italy but for an inexperienced squad, Tuesday's loss was a harsh reminder of international football's margin for error.

Asked whether distribution with his feet was an aspect he needed to improve upon post-game, after similarly getting his pocket picked in Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League exit, the 23-year-old responded angrily.

"When did it happen before? When I was fouled against Real Madrid? If we want to cause controversy over these things, then fine," Donnarumma told RAI Sport. "I am here to talk for the team. If you want to blame me, fine, I’ll take the blame, I am the captain and I keep going with head held high.

“I think you’re all trying to create something about these errors, fine.

"We are angry. There are no excuses, we have to get back out there and prove this is not us. There are simply no excuses."

The Azzurri sit third in Group A3 after two draws and a win in their opening three games but following their loss in the UEFA/CONMEBOL Finalissima, Tuesday's defeat represents a return to square one.

Donnarumma suggested end-of-season fatigue had been a contributing factor, but it had not been primary in Italy's performance in Germany.

"We were lacking everything tonight," he said. "There was also some fatigue after four games in 15 days at the end of the season, but we don’t want to seek alibis. Now we will look each other in the eye and analyse everything.

"We’re really disappointed for the fans, for what they saw tonight. We had a few chances, but it’s not good enough. We’ll analyse everything and start again.

"All of us made mistakes. I could’ve dealt with the situation better at 4-0 and kicked it away, but you learn from mistakes and grow. Now we just have to rest and come back much stronger than this."

Germany claimed their first win of this Nations League campaign as they hammered Italy 5-2 in Monchengladbach.

Having drawn each of their previous three Group C matches 1-1, Hansi Flick's side were dominant at Borussia-Park, easily swatting the European champions aside.

Joshua Kimmich got things started in the 10th minute and Germany never looked back, with Thomas Muller netting early in the second half after Ilkay Gundogan had scored from the penalty spot.

Timo Werner's rapid double added further gloss to a mightily impressive victory, as Germany made a statement of intent despite consolations from Wilfried Gnonto and Alessandro Bastoni.

Germany had the bit between their teeth from the off, and although Giacomo Raspadori should have put Italy ahead against the run of play, the hosts had the lead when Kimmich found time in the area to take a touch and side-foot home.

Gianluigi Donnarumma might have done better for Kimmich's opener, but he could do little to prevent Gundogan doubling Germany's lead from 12 yards after Bastoni inexplicably shoved Jonas Hofmann on the stroke of half-time.

Donnarumma was fetching the ball out of his net again six minutes after the restart. A cross from the left caused havoc in Italy's defence, with Muller's snapshot on the rebound making it 3-0.

A remarkable Manuel Neuer save from Nicolo Barella was rendered meaningless by an offside flag, but a dismal display continued for his opposite number.

While Donnarumma would have been hard pushed to prevent Werner's first goal – a close-range effort from Serge Gnabry's cute lay-off – he was at fault for the striker's second a minute later, playing a dreadful pass that was intercepted by Gnabry, before being fooled by the subsequent finish.

Neuer gave Donnarumma a run for his money with an unusually weak save to gift Gnonto a maiden international goal, with Bastoni heading in a further consolation in stoppage time in a nevertheless humbling defeat for Italy.

German goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer looked forward to ending a string of mediocre results when his side face Italy on Tuesday, saying "a win would taste good".

Saturday's 1-1 draw against Hungary was Germany's fourth consecutive 1-1 draw, with the same result against England and Italy this month, and the Netherlands back in March.

In that last meeting with Italy, Germany controlled 65 per cent of the possession, completing over double the amount of passes (613-302), but they had to come from behind and settle for the draw thanks to Joshua Kimmich's equaliser.

Speaking to the media ahead of the contest, Neuer said his side played with the "right attitude" against Hungary, and he hopes Germany can get back on track with a strong result when the Italians travel to Borussia-Park.

"The disappointment has already prevailed, but we don't have to bury our heads in the sand either," he said. "Our hunger and our motivation are there. 

"We may have lacked creativity and vigour, but we showed the right attitude in every game.

"A win would taste good for us. We want to get the three points against Italy and the sense of achievement at the end.

"You can't just drop a game. We want to be as well-rehearsed as possible on the defensive for the World Cup. 

"That will be crucial for me, and that's why it's good to play against such good opponents in the Nations League."

Germany head coach Hansi Flick also looked on the bright side, and acknowledged he is still very much in data-gathering mode.

"The team has made good progress – we haven't lost a game yet," he said. "But in the last four games – against quite strong opponents – we've only drawn four times. 

"We were hoping for more, and I also thought that we'd made a bit more progress in development. As I said before, the four games are used for analysis, which we have to fine-tune in September. And that is our task now."

While all focus seems to be on the World Cup, Flick admitted he is desperate to get that winning feeling back in the group.

"I just don't like the four draws because I want to win, and the team feels the same way," he said. "We want to win games.

"Victories are always important for the team. We have to give everything again against Italy, with a win the conviction that you have good quality is much higher.

"Italy are doing very well. They have a broad squad and always bring freshness to the pitch. 

"We want to stress the opponent, put him under pressure. Our transition game has to get better, that's where our focus is.

"Our offensive doesn't lack direction, but rather the determination and the absolute will to finish. This requires conviction, but also freshness – and after such a long season that is not always available."

Robert Mancini has expressed his excitement at the future after offering opportunities to a number of young players with Italy during the Nations League campaign.

Italy crashed out in the World Cup play-offs to North Macedonia, failing to make Qatar 2022 after missing out on the tournament in Russia four years earlier.

That capped a turbulent period in Italian football after winning Euro 2020, with many questioning Serie A coaches for allowing younger domestic players the chance to develop.

Mancini responded by promising more opportunities for youthful players with Italy, after the 'Finalissima' defeat to Argentina at Wembley Stadium at the start of June's international schedule.

Davide Frattesi, Federico Gatti and Gianluca Scamacca were among that emerging crop to feature in the Nations League campaign, with Italy drawing two games and winning the other.

That has left the Azzurri top of League A Group 3, which includes Germany, England and Hungary, ahead of Tuesday's clash with Hansi Flick's side.

Coach Mancini revealed he is learning a lot as he looks ahead to the future.

"I saw some guys who can have a great future," he said. "The level in the national team is very high. I think the boys need to have the chance to play.

"The first time they made me play was Radice, 1981, in the first team. It wasn't Serie A, it was a New Year's tournament.

"At the first ball they gave me, I lifted my foot and the ball passed, I did not touch it. For a young person, it is not easy, you have to have confidence and let them play even without optimal performance.

"It can be an important thing, it is possible to get to know them more closely. Seeing those guys for three days gave us the opportunity to understand who could be more ready."

While Mancini has started to utilise younger players, he remains unsure how Lorenzo Insigne will progress playing in MLS for Toronto FC.

"He will depend on how he will be and what will happen there. He has given so much to us, he is a great player, it depends on what happens in MLS," he added.

Germany were held to their third consecutive 1-1 draw in the Nations League as Hungary earned a point at the Puskas Arena on Saturday.

An early goal from Zsolt Nagy was quickly cancelled out by Jonas Hofmann, but the visitors were unable to find a winner despite dominating the ball.

Hansi Flick's men looked devoid of ideas for the most part and remain third in Nations League Group A3 behind Hungary and Italy.

Marco Rossi's team could be pleased with their night's work, on the other hand, and could consider themselves unfortunate not to have taken all three points.

A strong start for Hungary was rewarded as they took the lead after just six minutes when a long ball down the right found the run of Attila Fiola. His cross was headed at goal by Roland Sallai, and Manuel Neuer palmed the ball only as far as Nagy, who controlled before firing into the roof of the net.

However, Germany were level just three minutes later as Hofmann ran onto a long ball from Nico Schlotterbeck to prod past the onrushing Peter Gulacsi and net his second goal in his past two games for his country.

Clever play from Jamal Musiala helped create an opportunity for David Raum to cut inside and bend an effort just wide of Gulacsi's far post, before Neuer saved a Fiola volley well with his leg just before the break.

The second half was largely spent in the Hungarian half, but Germany created very little until Kai Havertz played Hofmann in on goal with just under 20 minutes to play, only for the goalscorer to make a mess of his attempted pass to Timo Werner, allowing Willi Orban to clear.

Substitute Daniel Gazdag forced Neuer into another good save in the final 10 minutes, but both teams were made to settle for a point.

Germany coach Hansi Flick criticised the UEFA Nations League schedule, claiming teams are being forced to play too many games in a World Cup year.

Die Mannschaft have already played two of their League A fixtures and will play two further games against Hungary and Italy during this window of international games.

The Nations League group stages will wrap up with a pair of games in September.

Germany's players involved in June's games will have less time to recover ahead of the new domestic season, with the Bundesliga starting a week earlier than last campaign on August 5. The Champions League group stage, in which Germany has four participants, will begin on September 6 having started on September 14 last year.

And, with the rescheduled World Cup beginning in Qatar on November 21, Flick believes too much of a burden is being placed on his country's players.

Asked at a media conference ahead of Saturday's game with Hungary if the Nations League games were putting a strain on players, he replied: "I agree with that.

"Four matches are too many after such a season. You have to take the two years into account.

"We had a pandemic and a lot of matches piled up. We will be having 'English weeks' [two-match weeks]

"There will be almost no pre-season preparation then it's Bundesliga and Champions League matches every three, four days until the World Cup.

"This should be looked at and we need to ask ourselves how we can offer players a break because that is important.

"UEFA or FIFA should look into these things and take some measures.

"Now we have to prepare well, we have these four games. We accept them. It is tough for the players after a long season. But we accept it because all teams have the same starting points.

"What we are focusing on is to play a good World Cup in November."

England can look forward to a bright future as Gareth Southgate's Three Lions bid for World Cup glory in Qatar, according to Antonio Rudiger.

The new Real Madrid defender got a first-hand look at the Euro 2020 runners-up when Germany were held to a 1-1 Nations League draw in Munich on Tuesday.

It was the hosts who had the majority of possession but Harry Kane's late penalty – his 50th international goal – sealed a point for Southgate's men, cancelling out Jonas Hoffman's strike.

Rudiger, who signed for Madrid after his Chelsea contract expired, was impressed by England's strength in depth, and reserved special praise for Jack Grealish, who came off the bench in midweek.

"The England squad has great quality," he said.

"It's like [Bukayo] Saka comes out, Grealish comes in. I saw a lot of big, big names were on the bench.

"England have a lot to be optimistic about for the future. I think you people don't need to worry too much. The English players are definitely getting better.

"You have to think about it like this, that players like [Marcus] Rashford and [Jadon] Sancho didn't even make the squad.

"That tells you that you have a lot of depth in the English squad and you have big, big players like Harry Kane, [Raheem] Sterling and Grealish – big names, big players.

"I think Grealish gave the team a real impact – because he came on and he gave good one v ones and everything.

"He is a very dangerous player and those sort of players are going to win you games."

England will face Wales, Iran and the United States in Group B at the World Cup, which starts on November 21.

England manager Gareth Southgate highlighted the pressures that come with such a high-profile role, and implied there will be some changes to the starting-11 in the next couple of Nations League games.

The Three Lions are coming off a 1-1 draw away against Germany, and will now prepare for fixtures against Italy on Saturday, and Hungary on Tuesday.

Harry Kane netted his 50th international goal in that last fixture, and while he is clearly the first-choice striker, the rest of the team is relatively unsettled.

England is currently sitting last in the Nations League's League A Group 3, and Southgate insisted there will be some experimentation as they try to find their optimal starting group ahead of the World Cup.

"You have seen right across Europe – France changed 10, Spain changed eight, Portugal changed seven," he said.

"This is quite a unique set of games where teams are thinking about player welfare to a degree, freshness, but also they are preparing for a World Cup, because they know what’s coming and what they haven’t got in terms of friendlies ahead of the tournament.

“Harry [Kane] is… a phenomenal professional, the way he looks after himself. I’m not saying he’s going to get his desire to start all four games, by the way, because there’s also Tammy [Abraham] that we want to see perform as well."

Southgate went on to discuss how demanding of a role he has, and that it feels like "you have got to win every match".

"I know what I wanted from these games," he said. "I also accept that with England, you’re going to be judged, and you have got to win every match.

"But I’ve got to think a little bit differently to that and accept that if there is criticism, fine. 

"I have got to make the right decisions for the players, for the team, to try to improve the team and if that means criticism, then so be it. 

"If my decision-making is affected by that, then it’s something I am not going to be successful with."

Gareth Southgate has challenged Manchester City attacker Jack Grealish to improve tactically if he is to become a regular starter for England.

Grealish was introduced from the bench with 18 minutes remaining of Tuesday's Nations League showdown with Germany in Munich.

The 26-year-old made a difference down the left-hand side for England, who secured a 1-1 draw through Harry Kane's late penalty after Jonas Hofmann had opened the scoring.

Despite his limited minutes on the pitch, Grealish managed six touches in the opposition box, which is double that of any England player other than Kane (seven).

He created one chance and was also involved in the build-up to the incident that saw Kane felled in the area to win the penalty that he converted for his 50th England goal.

However, while Southgate was pleased with the impact made by Grealish, the Three Lions boss indicated that he is still after more from British football's most expensive player.

"At the start of the game the challenge for the wide players was to attack, defend and to try to score goals – it's a high tactical level and you've got to be spot on," Southgate said.

"That's an area Jack can get better at. What he did do was carry the ball as the game opened up with a bit more space and opportunity. 

"The impact he and Jarrod Bowen had was really important in those attacking areas. There's a good challenge there among those players, but we've got to keep pushing them."

 

Only half of Grealish's 22 caps for England have been starts, and asked if he sees the former Aston Villa star continuing to be an impact substitute or a regular in the long term, Southgate said: "He can do both.

"If we didn't trust him we wouldn't put him on the pitch with 20 minutes to go in the belief he can make a difference."

England were three minutes from successive defeats to begin their Nations League campaign when Kane converted his late penalty.

The visitors fielded their most experienced starting line-up under Southgate in terms of average age (27 years, 89 days) and most caps won (481 prior to kick-off).

With home games against Italy and Hungary still to come this window, Southgate is happy with the progress being made by his side just five months out from the World Cup.

"These series of matches are about improving and learning as a team and you can't get that against lesser opposition," he said. 

"The quality of the game tests every part of the player. I think we'll review it and see things we can get better at.

"Coming away from home and getting a good result was a challenge for the players. Top teams don't lose two on the bounce and they've responded to that in the right way.

"It's an important sign for when you are in a team – we've got seven or eight players still in there that got to a World Cup semi-final. 

"That's important as they put their bodies on the line and on nights like this, you have to do that to get a result."

England manager Gareth Southgate was full of praise for his side after salvaging a 1-1 draw away from home against Germany – particularly for star striker Harry Kane and the multitude of ways he helps the Three Lions function.

The home side looked poised for victory after Jonas Hoffman's 50th minute strike, but the visitors were rewarded for their strong play in the dying stages as Harry Kane converted a penalty in the 88th minute to tie things up.

Despite having just 37 per cent possession, England produced more shots (15 to 10) and had more expected goals (1.92 to 0.71).

It was Kane's 50th career goal for England, but Southgate said the real story is how well-rounded he is as a forward, becoming much more than a goal-scorer.

"Rightly, the fact he's got 50 goals will be the centre part of the story," he said. "But his all-round game, the way he led the line, the way he competed, the way he pressed from the front for us today was exceptional. 

"I think his quality to drop deep – I know people say he drops too deep – but you need a player that can come and link the game. 

"He gives us so many different options, and when we had runners past him like Raheem [Sterling] and Bukayo [Saka] and Mason [Mount], then that part of his game comes into its own. 

"There are little moments where he comes and takes the ball and relieves the pressure that you almost take for granted, but they're such an important part of the game in terms of the battling qualities of going down against an elite nation."

Southgate said he was pleased with his side's overall performance, highlighting just how difficult it is to earn a result away from home against one of the world's greatest teams.

"Firstly, I was pleased with the level of the performance because this type of fixture challenges everything – technical, tactical, physical, psychological," he said. 

"The players have had to give absolutely everything to get a result from the game. 

"I thought in the first half we were okay. We looked at moments like we could cause problems, but the quality of our passing in various phases of the game wasn't at the level it needed to be. 

"Second half we were a little bit too passive in that period where we conceded, but the response to that was fantastic.

"I think we created quality chances, and I think we deserved something from the game in the end. 

"It's a huge credit to the players that they've shown that mentality, having gone behind, not to give in and to keep pushing right to the very end."

England's Nations League campaign continues on Saturday, at home against Italy.

Harry Kane reached the milestone of 50 international goals during England's 1-1 draw against Germany in Tuesday's Nations League action, and the data shows just how lethal England's number nine has been in his 71 caps.

Kane's landmark strike came from the penalty spot in the dying stages as Germany led 1-0, the Tottenham star coolly converting in the 88th minute to salvage a draw for the visitors in Munich.

It was a deserved result for England, who had more shots (15-10) and a better expected goals figure (1.92 versus 0.71), despite far less possession (37.3 per cent).

For Kane, it was the 15th penalty he has scored for his country, and by netting it away from home at the Allianz Arena, he now has 20 home goals, 20 away, and 10 at neutral grounds.

Despite having a strike rate of 0.7 goals per game in international play, the Nations League has been Kane's toughest competition, with his goal against Germany only his second in 14 Nations League fixtures (.14 goals per game).

He has been most prolific in World Cup qualifiers, scoring 17 times in 14 games, while being similarly effective in European Championship qualifiers (15 goals in 13 games). He also has six World Cup goals in six matches.

As a true striker, he has done most of his work close to goal, scoring 48 of his 50 goals from inside the penalty box. He has tallied nine headers to go with 35 right-foot finishes and six with his left.

Speaking to the media after his third career goal against Germany – having only scored more against San Marino (five), Bulgaria (four), Montenegro (four) and Albania (four) – Kane said he likes nothing more than putting the ball in the back of the net.

"I love scoring goals, I always have – especially for my country," he said.

"So whenever I can help the team, that's the most important thing. Good to bounce back with a result, it's not an easy place to come. Now we've got two games at home to try to get two wins. 

"Even going 1-0 down, it shows good character from us away from home to get back into the game and get a result against a good Germany side. 

"It shows where we are. We've still got improvement, but we're working hard and the World Cup's going to be here before we know it, so we've got to keep doing well."

He added in a tweet after the game: "50 England goals. So so proud. Treasure each and every one of them. Never take it for granted."

England's Nations League campaign continues on Saturday against Italy at Molineux.

Harry Kane salvaged a point for England by scoring his 50th international goal with a late penalty in a 1-1 draw against Germany in Nations League Group A3 on Tuesday. 

By slotting his spot-kick into the bottom-left corner in the 88th minute, Kane moved clear of Bobby Charlton and to within three of Wayne Rooney's all-time England goalscoring record. 

Jonas Hofmann put Germany in front early in the second half, the midfielder finding the back of the net for the second time in three international appearances. 

However, Nico Schlotterbeck felled Kane in the box and the Tottenham striker stopped England succumbing to back-to-back defeats for the first time since 2018 with a milestone goal. 

Thomas Muller was denied a tap-in by an important intervention from Kyle Walker and the Bayern Munich star had the ball in the back of the net in the 13th minute, though play was pulled back due to an injury to Kalvin Phillips. 

Hofmann slotted home after Harry Maguire was caught out by Kai Havertz, but the goal was ruled out by an offside flag and the decision was upheld after a lengthy VAR check. 

Kane wasted a rare chance for England in the 26th minute by blazing over when Manuel Neuer spilled a corner at his feet under pressure from Maguire. 

Gareth Southgate's side struggled to keep pace after the restart and fell behind when Joshua Kimmich picked out Hofmann, who drilled the ball past Jordan Pickford. 

It would have been two had Pickford not managed to get a strong hand to Muller's volley at the near post after an excellent delivery from David Raum. 

Neuer produced a brilliant stop to keep Kane at bay with 15 minutes remaining but the England captain finally got the better of the Germany keeper from the penalty spot to earn the Three Lions a share of the spoils. 

Germany coach Hansi Flick warned his side of the qualities England possess as he prepares for a "classic" in the Nations League on Tuesday.

England were far from their best as they fell to a 1-0 defeat on Saturday to Hungary in their League A Group 3 opener, while Germany shared the spoils with Italy.

Die Mannschaft host the Three Lions in Munich for the next Nations League encounter, with England winning the last meeting 2-0 at Euro 2020 last June.

Indeed, Germany have failed to score in their last two matches against England (0-0 in November 2017, 0-2 in June 2021), as many as in their previous 16 games combined.

Flick, speaking at a pre-match news conference on Monday, outlined his expectations for the difficulties Gareth Southgate's visitors will pose as he hailed the threat of captain and talisman Harry Kane.

"It's a classic, the games are always something special. Everything else is in the past. We're looking ahead and trying to get a better result tomorrow," the former Bayern Munich boss said.

"We showed the team what we could have done better against Italy. It's important that we go into the game with a good feeling.

"Against England it's extremely important that we keep up. The football in the Premier League is very physical.

"Harry Kane is a world-class striker and England have a lot of outstanding players in their ranks."

While Flick was quick to credit Tottenham star Kane, who has scored in both of his England appearances against Germany, he also heaped praise on the undervalued Timo Werner.

"I'll keep my thoughts to myself, but both can play in the position," he said when asked who would start between Chelsea pair Kai Havertz and Werner. 

"Timo is underestimated a bit, with also what he does for the team. He creates space in front of the defence. Both are an option for us up top."

As for his return to the Allianz Arena, Flick is looking forward to revisiting his old Bayern stadium and credited the work of his successor Julian Nagelsmann, who guided the Bavarian side to the Bundesliga title.

"It's been a long time since I enjoyed a full house in Munich, so I hope the team will be supported. I hope we play well and have the support of the crowd," he continued.

"For me, the performances with the national team and in training here are decisive. Bayern have played an outstanding season.

"The championship title is the most honest title you can win, so compliments again to Julian Nagelsmann. It's important that the players now perform well here."

John Stones says England's Euro 2020 win over Germany "set the bar" as he challenged the Three Lions to respond in Munich after defeat to Hungary.

England underwhelmed on Saturday at the Puskas Arena as Hungary won the Nations League opener 1-0 to record their first victory over the Three Lions since May 1962.

Meanwhile, Germany were held to a 1-1 draw by Italy in the other League A Group 3 game, with Hansi Flick's side next hosting England at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday.

England won the last meeting between the two sides 2-0 at Wembley Stadium last June in the last-16 at Euro 2020, with Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane proving the difference.

The Three Lions have not won consecutive games against Germany since a seven-game winning run between 1935 and 1966, the last game of which was the World Cup final.

Stones believes England must use their Euro 2020 triumph over Die Mannschaft as a benchmark for future performances.

"I think everyone felt the same as us, the incredible stage we beat them on, the occasion, it was a big step for us as a team and nation," Stones said at a pre-match news conference on Monday. 

"To progress to the latter stages of that tournament and show ourselves what we are capable of, we have set a marker and we have to be consistent with winning.

"We have set the bar, that’s the challenge for us as players now, the other day was a big learning curve for us as a collective.

"We have had an incredible run and that stopped, now it’s down to us how we bounce back, how we show our character and experience – what a game to do that in tomorrow."

Stones' Manchester City team-mate Kevin De Bruyne was quick to criticise the Nations League for adding further strain to the footballing calendar.

However, Stones disagrees with the Belgium international as he expressed his pride to play for his country on any occasion.

"You need to always be ready and fighting, the feeling in the camp and the players is that we would play all year round if we could," he added.

"We know how important this period is, not many games leading up to the World Cup, everyone is fighting for their place, trying to play well and trying to create partnerships.

"To play for your nation and be called up...when I was out of the team it hurt so when you are here to play in big games like this you can only cherish the moment and maximise the chances in front of you.

"I see this as a massive learning curve and a big step in the right direction to set us up for the World Cup."

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