Gareth Southgate says there can be no let-up after sealing early qualification for Euro 2024, telling England’s players to grab next month’s chance to impress and ensure their place as top seeds.

Having set out their stall with an impressive victory over Italy in March’s Group C opener, three further wins and an away draw against Ukraine put them within touching distance of progress.

England took their chance to qualify for an eighth straight major tournament with two games to spare on Tuesday night, coming from behind to beat holders Italy 3-1 at a sold-out Wembley.

Southgate’s Euro 2020 runners-up have silverware in their sights next summer and are waiting to find out how things will shape up in Germany at the draw in Hamburg on December 2.

But before that comes the end of qualification at home to Malta and away to North Macedonia, with the England boss calling on his players to end an unbeaten 2023 on a high.

“We can now plan,” England boss Southgate told BBC Radio 5 Live after their place at Euro 2024 was mathematically secured.

“We have been planning anyway for base camps and things because I think the days are gone where we didn’t do that in case it brought bad luck.

“We decided a long time ago that you have to plan as if you’re going to be there.

“We still need to win the matches next month because I think it won’t be enough to win the group to be one of the top seeds, so we’ll need a high points tally as well.

“But also I want to see all the players again next month.

“We’re not going to flog them physically. We didn’t do that this month. We’ve looked after them. We’re dealing well with the clubs on that.

“I have to say Manchester City were brilliant with this with John Stones. We’ve managed his return to play really well and I think that’s worked for both of us.

“So we now can really start to look forward with enthusiasm for next summer, but we want to finish the year, the calendar year, well as well next month.”

Southgate pledged to again give players the chance to stake their claims for a Euros spot in November’s fixtures.

“Similar to this month, we want to give people opportunities,” Southgate said at the post-match press conference.

“We need to win two matches firstly, but there’s a chance to look at look at players again, which we need to do.”

Ollie Watkins and Jarrod Bowen returned to the set-up in October and will be hoping to get another chance to impress, having started against Australia, with the former scoring in the 1-0 friendly win.

Levi Colwill and Eddie Nketiah are also in that boat, having made their debuts on Friday before Southgate reverted to the tried and tested against Luciano Spalletti’s revitalised Azzurri.

The England boss made a full 11 changes from the Socceroos encounter, with eight of Tuesday’s line-up having started the Euro 2020 final against Italy 27 months ago.

Skipper Harry Kane was, unsurprisingly, among them and took his record national team goal haul to 61 with his brace in the comeback triumph.

“There’s a risk we take the goals for granted,” Southgate said of the Bayern Munich sharpshooter.

“But his all-round play, his hold up play, the way physically dealt with the centre-backs, his vision, his passing – because we have had him for a while it’s easy to underestimate, but he’s a top-level player.

“He’s also now got a new experience at a different club, where he’s looking to win trophies all the time, and he’s got to win every week. (There is a) different sort of focus and pressure as the big signing there, so all of that’s good.

“I think he’s enjoying also coming back to England and mixing with the lads because he’s very close with all of the group.

“I’ve said before, our senior players set a brilliant example for the young ones.

“They provide that spirit. They’ve been through so much together and they provide us with such a brilliant platform.”

England, Scotland, Spain, France, Portugal, Turkey, Belgium and Austria all secured their places at Euro 2024 in the latest round of qualifying fixtures.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what still to be resolved in November and the play-offs.

Group A

Scotland and Spain have both qualified for the finals, but top spot remains up for grabs.

Spain head to Cyprus and then host Georgia, while Scotland face a trip to Tbilisi before welcoming Norway to Hampden Park – where the Tartan Army are expected to revel in a Euro 2024 qualification party.

Georgia are set to go into the play-offs based on their Nations League ranking as a group winner.

Norway are one of several countries who will have to wait on all the other results to see if they can make the cut as one of 12 teams split through three paths.

Group B

While France have qualified automatically for the finals as group winners, the Netherlands still have work to do.

The Dutch edged past Greece with a stoppage-time penalty from captain Virgil van Dijk on Monday night – and victory over the Republic of Ireland in Amsterdam will secure a top-two finish.

Greece, though, could also still reach Euro 2024, having already been assured of a place in the play-offs.

Indeed because of UEFA’s complex weighted system based on overall Nations League rankings, the Republic are still not theoretically out of the running to be involved in the play-offs in March – and could even see their slim hopes boosted by a loss in Amsterdam on November 18 if other results also fall into place.

Group C

England’s 3-1 win over Italy at Wembley on Tuesday night saw them qualify with two matches left.

Italy are third, but qualification remains in their own hands if they can beat North Macedonia.

The Azzurri would then edge out Ukraine to the runners-up spot should they go on to avoid defeat in the final group game between the two countries in Leverkusen on November 20.

Italy are also assured of place in the play-offs should it be needed.

Group D

Turkey have secured qualification, but the race to join them looks set to go to the wire.

Wales will if they beat Armenia in Yerevan and Croatia suffer an unexpected defeat away to Latvia.

Armenia, though, are still not out of the mix, sitting just three points behind Wales and Croatia with two games left.

Qualification could all hinge on the very last round of fixtures – which sees Wales host Turkey in Cardiff and Croatia play Armenia in Zagreb on November 21.

However, Croatia are assured of at least a play-off spot if they do not qualify automatically.

Group E

In another tight group, leaders Albania, the Czech Republic, Poland and even Moldova can all still qualify.

Albania will qualify if they avoid defeat by Moldova in their next match or if Poland – currently third and with just one game left – beat the Czechs.

An away win in Warsaw, though, would see the Czech Republic qualify if Moldova do not beat Albania.

Moldova have two games left, which they realistically would need to win to keep in the qualification mix.

Despite being bottom of the table with just one point from seven games, the Faroe Islands could yet find themselves in the play-offs depending on other results.

Group F

Austria and group leaders Belgium have both qualified.

Belgium’s game against Sweden at the King Baudouin Stadium on Monday night was abandoned at half-time after two people were shot dead in Brussels. It has yet to be confirmed whether the fixture will be replayed.

Azerbaijan are not theoretically out of play-off contention, while bottom side Estonia are the top-ranked team from Nations League Group D.

Group G

Leaders Hungary – who have Barnsley midfielder Callum Styles in the squad – missed the chance to qualify after having to recover to draw 2-2 in Lithuania.

However, a point in their next match away to Bulgaria would see them through, as would Montenegro not beating Lithuania.

Second-placed Serbia will qualify if Montenegro fail to win on November 16 or they themselves beat Bulgaria in their last game.

Bottom side Bulgaria have slim play-off hopes, but Serbia are secured a spot if they need it as one of the Nations League group winners.

Group H

Slovenia, who beat Northern Ireland in Belfast on Tuesday night, and Denmark are in the driving seat to qualify, sitting four points clear of Kazakhstan.

A win in Copenhagen for either team on November 17 would see them through, as would San Marino getting an unlikely positive result against Kazakhstan.

Finland will go into the play-offs, which is also the likely route for Kazakhstan.

Group I

Switzerland’s fightback with two late goals to draw 3-3 against Belarus left them second in the table, a point behind leaders Romania having played a game less.

Israel – assured of at least a play-off spot – are four points adrift, and have their rearranged match with the Swiss on November 15.

Switzerland will qualify if they win their next two fixtures, while Romania will if the Swiss lose in Tel Aviv and they themselves then beat Israel on November 18.

Romania are set to host Switzerland in the final round of fixtures, while Israel’s postponed match against Kosovo has still to be rescheduled.

Group J

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano)

 

Portugal qualified for the finals as runaway group winners with a 100 per cent record so far through eight games.

Slovakia will also qualify with a match to spare if they avoid defeat against Iceland.

Luxembourg are five points behind, so look likely to go into the play-offs along with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Hansi Flick has been sacked as manager of Germany in the wake of Saturday’s 4-1 home friendly defeat to Japan.

It comes after the former Bayern Munich coach won just 12 of his 25 matches in charge of the national team following his appointment in August 2021.

Germany will host the European Championship next summer but form had grown increasingly erratic under Flick, with a second successive group-stage exit at the World Cup last year part of a run that has seen just three victories in the last 12 months.

The 58-year-old, who replaced World Cup-winner Joachim Low when he stood down following Euro 2020, becomes the first person to be sacked as Germany manager.

Rudi Voller will take charge of the team for their friendly against France in Dortmund on Tuesday.

German Football Federation (DFB) president Bernd Neuendorf said in a statement: “The committees agreed that the men’s senior national team needs new impetus after the recent disappointing results.

“We need, in facing the European Championship, a spirit of optimism and confidence in our own country.

“For me personally, it is one of the most difficult decisions of my time in office so far, because I appreciate Hansi Flick and his assistant coaches as football experts and people.

“But sporting success is the top priority for the DFB. So the decision was inevitable.”

Voller, who as well as taking over as caretaker also holds the role of director of the national team, added: “Hansi Flick has worn himself out over the past few months; together with his coaching team, he has given everything to get back on track after leaving the World Cup in Qatar to make the turn for the better.

“Unfortunately, we have to realise today that it was not successful. The Japan game has clearly shown us that we can no longer make any progress in this situation.”

Flick’s assistants Marcus Sorg and Danny Rohl have also left their roles.

The defeat against Japan in Wolfsburg came despite a goal in the 19th minute from Leroy Sane to equalise Junya Ito’s early opener, with Ayase Ueda restoring the visitors’ lead moments later.

Takuma Asano and Ao Tanaka struck in the closing stages to compound Germany’s misery in what transpired to be the manager’s final game in charge.

Germany manager Hansi Flick’s position looks uncertain after an embarrassing 4-1 home friendly defeat to Japan on Saturday.

The former Bayern Munich boss has now overseen four defeats in the last five games, which comes on the back of a group-stage exit at last year’s World Cup.

The pressure is increasing on the 58-year-old, with director of the Germany national team Rudi Voller noticeably evasive when asked about his manager’s future.

Voller said in a television interview, reported by German newspaper De Bild: “We should collect ourselves first. There will be a bit of training tomorrow. Then we play against France. Afterwards, we should first reflect and think about what happens next. Let’s see.”

Japan, whose 2-1 victory in Qatar sent Germany home from the World Cup, went ahead through Junya Ito before Leroy Sane levelled.

But second-half goals from Ayase Ueda, Takuma Asano and Ao Tanaka saw Japan coast to victory in Wolfsburg, where the crowd turned on their side at full-time.

Flick replaced long-time boss Joachim Low in August 2021 but has won less than half of his 25 games in charge.

Scotland will stay humble as they look to battle past Cyprus and keep themselves in the driving seat to qualify for Euro 2024, according to former national team striker Charlie Nicholas.

Steve Clarke’s men are aiming for a fifth straight Group A win in Larnaca on Friday night, which, if other results go their way next week, could see Scotland’s place in the finals confirmed.

Nicholas, who played for Scotland at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, believes Clarke will not allow any thoughts of having already booked a ticket to Germany next summer as his team focus on showing the required mentality in the heat of the AEK Arena.

“This is the first time I can ever recall being in a position of comfort in a group like this. It is a kind of weird experience,” Nicholas told the PA news agency.

“Steve Clarke’s business as a manager is being serious, so the boys will stay humble – and I do think they will get it tough in Cyprus.

“Now this becomes the most important one, because it would give us a really nice buffer if we were to win it, but it will be tight.

“It will be in the heat, which obviously doesn’t complement us, but we have put ourselves in a great position so we must not let it slip now.”

Scotland’s assistant coach John Carver has branded the current squad the “most focused group” he has ever worked with, having seen them beat Spain at Hampden Park in March and then win away in Norway.

Nicholas added: “Looking at these guys, what you have got is a lot of important players playing at top football clubs – even with Kieran Tierney’s move, it is to a top club in Spain (at Real Sociedad).

“There is a lot of knowledge in there and also with that desire – they will be told the whole truth when it comes to these qualifying games, because we are so close to it.

“If we go and win in Cyprus, that doesn’t guarantee us (qualification), but it more or less does – and in Scotland we have learned never to take too much for granted.

“They are a well-respected group with what they stand for together. There is no faking with these guys, they are bang on the money and know where they are trying to get to.”

On September 17, Nicholas will be joining broadcaster Jeff Stelling when he takes on a 34th marathon Football March for Prostate Cancer UK, from Wembley to Wycombe Wanderers, in honour of the late Bill Turnbull.

Former Celtic and Arsenal striker Nicholas lost his father, Chic, to prostate cancer, which affects one in eight men, in December 2009.

The Scot stressed the importance of early diagnosis, which brings with it more options for advanced treatments such as radiotherapy and better life outcomes. 

“I think we (men) are a bit afraid about it, because you don’t want to turn up at the doctors and think you are going to get bad news,” Nicholas said.

“It is scary and it is not nice to go and find out – but the thing is if you have symptoms, then just go and get it checked.

“Because if you sadly have got it and they can spot it early enough, that actually puts you in a good position. It might not sound like it, but you really are.”

:: Jeff Stelling’s Football March 2023 is sponsored by specialist cancer care provider GenesisCare. You can sponsor Jeff to honour Bill’s legacy and help beat prostate cancer via – https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/JeffStellingsFootballMarch2023

German Alexander Zverev had a spectator thrown out of his US Open match against Jannik Sinner for shouting “the most famous Hitler phrase”.

A man could clearly be heard yelling “Deutschland uber alles” inside Arthur Ashe Stadium as Zverev prepared to serve.

Zverev, the 12th seed, approached English umpire James Keothovang and said: “He just said the most famous Hitler phrase there is in the world. It’s unacceptable. This is unbelievable.”

Keothovang turned to the crowd and asked: “Who was the smart guy who said that? Who said that? Put your hand up. We’re going to get him out.”

He then announced to the crowd: “Please be fair and respect the players.”

The man suspected of yelling the slur was ejected by security at the end of the game.

Zverev went on to win the match in five sets and afterwards, the 26-year-old told reporters: “He started singing the anthem of Hitler that was back in the day. It was ‘Deutschland uber alles’ and it was a bit too much.”

Germany Derby hero Fantastic Moon will contest the Grosser Preis von Baden on Sunday – the race that paved the way to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for Germany’s most recent success story.

The Sarah Steinberg-trained three-year-old has a true German pedigree as he is by Sea The Moon and out of a German-bred mare named Frangipani.

He won the Preis des Winterfavoriten, a Cologne Group Three, as a two-year-old and demonstrated he had trained on into his three-year-old season with a third-placed run in the Bavarian Classic in May.

From there he headed to Baden-Baden and won the Derby trial by a comfortable three lengths, a performance that led him to emulate his sire and land the German Derby itself with a two-and-a-quarter-length success in early July

High-profile international targets were then discussed and the Arc was mentioned at one stage, but Fantastic Moon will take up neither his entry in the Prix Niel or the Irish Champion Stakes and will instead stay closer to home this weekend – in a Group One that was previously won by subsequent Arc hero Torquator Tasso.

Lars-Wilhlem Baumgarten of owners Liberty Racing said: “He is very well, he worked well on Monday in the morning and he will run in the Grosser Preis von Baden on Sunday.

“We nominated him today for the race, we supplemented him.

“We decided against the Champion Stakes and against the Prix Niel and went for Baden-Baden.

“It is a German race, we know the horses, there is one French horse in the race and then we will see how good he is.”

The colt would need to be supplemented if he were to follow the path trodden by Torquator Tasso and connections will reconsider that idea after Sunday’s performance.

Baumgarten said: “We will talk about that after the race on Sunday.”

Jamaica missed out on the cut for the final of the Mixed 4x400 metres relay, as they could only manage fifth in heat two of the event on Saturday's opening day of the ongoing World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

The Jamaican quartet of Demish Gaye, Natoya Goule-Toppin, Malik James-King and Stacey-Ann Williams, running in that order, struggled from the off and was at the back of the pack for the first two legs.

In fact, it was on the third leg that James King tried to force the initiative and gradually made progress, but faded in the latter stages, leaving Williams with much to do on anchor.

Despite facing an uphill task, Williams showed grit and determination to bring Jamaicans from eighth into fifth and ninth across the two heats in a season’s best 3:14.05.

They finished behind the Femke Bol led Dutch team, who won in 3:12.12, followed by France (3:12.25) and Czech Republic (3:12.52), with fourth-placed Germany taking one of the non-automatic qualifying spots.

United States with a World lead 3:10.41, Great Britain, with a national record 3:11.19, Belgium (3:11.81) and Ireland (3:13.90), are the other finalists.

 

You can catch live action of the 2023 World Athletic Championships by downloading the Sportsmax App.

Harry Kane insists he will relish the “new pressure” of challenging to win titles every year at Bayern Munich and knows success in Germany can put his name in the Ballon d’Or conversation.

It has been a whirlwind week for the England captain after he departed boyhood club Tottenham on Saturday for an initial £100million fee, which could rise to £120m with add-ons.

Kane made his Bayern debut later that same night in the DFL-Supercup but his wait for a first trophy goes on after RB Leipzig inflicted a 3-0 defeat on the Bundesliga champions.

The 30-year-old is eager to add team success to a host of individual honours on his CV during his time in Munich.

“A lot of people talk about the trophies and why I came here, but ultimately it was to improve,” Kane told Sky Sports.

“To feel a new pressure of having to win titles every year, having to go far in the Champions League and pushing myself to that limit.

“I think if you’re winning games, winning titles, winning Champions Leagues and I’m the one playing up front, it more than likely means I am scoring goals so that allows you to win other individual awards.

“But that all comes from what you achieve as a team. That’s my focus first and foremost and that all starts on Friday.

“We have a long season ahead. A lot of pressure for Bayern Munich to win the league and go far in the Champions League. That is what I am excited to try and challenge myself with.”

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Harry Kane (@harrykane)

 

An outstanding 2017 resulted in Kane finishing 10th in the Ballon d’Or list but Spurs have endured a difficult few seasons since they made the Champions League final in 2019.

With Kane aware his chances of winning silverware were reducing at Tottenham, the forward made the decision to leave the north London club after a 19-year association.

He hinted part of the decision to leave Spurs was to play in the Champions League and have no regrets at the end of his career.

Kane added: “If you’re winning your league, winning the Champions League and we obviously have the European Championship next summer as well, I think as we’ve seen with the Ballon d’Or, you have to be winning team trophies to achieve that.

“Yeah, if I am scoring goals and we’re winning trophies then of course that will come into question, but it is not really what my focus is on right now.

“I’ve always said throughout my whole career I never want to retire and feel like I could have done more or pushed myself more. That was a big part of the decision-making coming here.

“I felt like to improve and to get better I had to be playing at the highest level.

“Of course I want to win every competition that I play in, that’s the goal every season but when you finish your career, you want to make sure you pushed yourself to the limits and that’s what I’ll continue to do.”

Two-time champions Germany have crashed out of the Women’s World Cup after drawing 1-1 with South Korea in their final Group H match in Brisbane.

Cho So-hyun had put South Korea in front in the sixth minute before Germany captain Alexandra Popp equalised with a 42nd-minute header.

But Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s world number two side were unable to add to that, with Popp going closest with a header against the crossbar on the hour mark.

And with Morocco beating Colombia 1-0 in the pool’s other game, leaving them both with six points, the Germans, on four, were condemned to third place and failed to make the knockout rounds of the competition for the first time in their history.

The 2003 and 2007 World Cup winners, who started their campaign at this edition by thrashing Morocco 6-0 before a shock 2-1 loss to Colombia, become the third top-10 ranked team to be eliminated at the group stage, after Canada and Brazil.

South Korea, managed by Englishman Colin Bell, also bow out with this having been the first point of their campaign.

There was an early warning for Germany when 16-year-old Casey Phair – who became the competition’s youngest ever player in the group’s opening round of matches – hit a shot in the third minute that Merle Frohms did well to turn against a post.

Three minutes later, another attack from Bell’s team saw them grab the lead as Lee Young-ju played a fine through-ball and Cho slotted past Frohms.

Klara Buhl sent two efforts off-target soon after, but Germany struggled to threaten much beyond that until Popp drew things level just before the break, connecting with Svenja Huth’s cross for her fourth goal of the tournament, moving level with Japan’s Hinata Miyazawa as top-scorer.

Popp thought she had headed her side in front in the 57th minute, only for the effort to be ruled out for offside, and a few moments on from that she sent another header against the bar.

Frohms was then called upon to push away a Ji So-yun corner, before Popp headed at Kim as Germany’s frustration continued.

A lengthy period of added time at the end, which included a stoppage when Cho was injured and carried off on stretcher, and lasted more than 15 minutes, included Germany substitute Sydney Lohmann putting strikes wide and over as Tecklenburg’s side tried in vain to rescue themselves from making unwanted history.

Manuela Vanegas ripped up the script at the Women’s World Cup as her stoppage-time strike for Colombia condemned Germany to a shock 2-1 defeat.

Co-hosts New Zealand were knocked out of the tournament as they were held to a goalless draw by Switzerland, while Norway thrashed the Philippines 6-0 as Morocco edged out South Korea 1-0.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at all of today’s World Cup action.

Colombia stun Germany

Germany suffered their first World Cup group stage defeat since 1995 in dramatic fashion in Sydney.

Real Madrid teenager Linda Caicedo’s outstanding strike gave Colombia a 52nd-minute lead, but Germany thought they had rescued a draw when Alexandra Popp scored from the penalty spot in the 89th minute.

But Colombia shocked the two-time world champions when Vanegas headed in Leicy Santos’ corner deep into stoppage time.

It means Colombia need only a point from their final group game against Morocco to top the group, with Germany perhaps needing to beat South Korea to advance.

New Zealand go out

The World Cup lost the first of its two co-hosts on Sunday as a goalless draw for New Zealand was not enough in Group A.

The Football Ferns had recorded an historic first win over Norway on the opening night of the tournament, but the stalemate in Wellington saw Switzerland top the group, while New Zealand were left level on points with Norway.

And Norway had a vastly superior goal difference after finishing their group campaign with a 6-0 win over the Philippines, with Sophie Roman Haug scoring a hat-trick.

Benzina makes history

Nouhaila Benzina became the first player to wear a hijab at a World Cup as she helped Morocco to a 1-0 win over South Korea.

Benzina, 25, made her first appearance of the tournament in her side’s final group game, which Morocco won thanks to Ibtissam Jraidi’s sixth-minute header – the nation’s first-ever Women’s World Cup win.

FIFA authorised the wearing of head coverings for religious reasons in 2014.

Post of the day

Quote of the day

“There’s a lot of tears out there but they should be so proud, we fought really hard. There’s such disappointment but I want everyone to be proud of what we’ve achieved. I really think we’ve inspired the country. I hope little girls across New Zealand and the world now will start playing sport and feel they can achieve whatever they put their mind to” – New Zealand co-captain Ali Riley.

What’s up next

Group B: Canada v Australia (Melbourne, 11am)

Group B: Republic of Ireland v Nigeria (Brisbane, 11am)

Group C: Costa Rica v Zambia (Hamilton, 8am)

Group C: Japan v Spain (Wellington, 8am)

All times BST

England Under-21s made it three wins from three and dumped Germany out of the European Under-21 Championship with a 2-0 win in their final group game in Batumi.

Two goals in the opening 21 minutes from Cameron Archer and Harvey Elliott were enough to secure another three points as England topped Group C with maximum points while holders Germany were sent crashing out without a win to their name.

England made an explosive start and hit the front after just four minutes when Jacob Ramsey’s clever through ball found Archer and he calmly tucked the ball past Noah Atubolu to make it 1-0.

The Young Lions nearly doubled their advantage six minutes later when the ball fell to Ramsey inside the area but his low drive went wide of the far post.

Lee Carsley’s side did make it two in the 21st minute thanks to a wonderful solo effort from Elliott. The Liverpool midfielder collected the ball inside his own half, drove at the German defence into the penalty area before coolly slotting home to make it 2-0.

Germany needed to win to have any chance of qualifying and their first chance came on the half-hour mark but Brentford forward Kevin Schade’s shot from inside the area found the hands of James Trafford.

Schade was Germany’s main threat and he had another chance to pull one back just before half-time when he sprinted down the right-hand side but saw his effort tipped away by the keeper.

Germany may have been facing an early exit but they posed little threat in the second half as England continued to probe, with half-chances falling to Cole Palmer after Elliott had forced a great save from Atubolu.

James Garner came close to a third with 15 minutes to go after some neat link-up play but the Everton midfielder could not steer his effort on target from close range.

Germany’s best chance of the game came three minutes from time when Finn Ole Becker’s powerful deflected effort was palmed away by Trafford, who secured another clean sheet alongside three straight 2-0 wins.

Carsten Ramelow believes Germany are being held back by a mentality issue as the former international warned: "Talent alone doesn't win you games."

Germany lost 2-0 at home to Colombia in a friendly on Tuesday – a third defeat from their last four matches.

The other game in that run finished 3-3, with Germany forging a late comeback to draw with Ukraine in a charity match.

Hansi Flick's side flopped in the 2022 World Cup, too, going out in the group stage, and Ramelow – a World Cup runner-up in 2002 – says German football as a whole has a mentality problem.

"I think there's multiple issues. That was not just about a bad performance in Qatar. The problems lie much deeper," he told Stats Perform.

"This is what aggravates everything. Having seen the game yesterday, I have only seen 15 minutes, that was enough. It shows which state the team has been in for weeks and months. Or maybe you have to say years.

"In that regard, we have big problems in Germany concerning youth players. I think [the team] lacks mentality. Talent alone doesn't win you games. Talent alone also doesn't bring you team spirit.

"People talk a lot about team spirit. Where is that team spirit? All those years, we have been saying that we have great talent. Maybe that's true but after this long period of suffering, you have to recognise that we have a lot of talent, but as I said, it lacks mentality, it lacks team spirit.

"We are not able to form a team, a unit. Be it Hansi Flick or any other coach, and you can see that in many Bundesliga teams. I think mentality is very, very important. A manager once told me something I will never forget: 'Passion is more important than skill'.

"You have to see how the players will develop. I don't know when it continues, in September or October. The ones that will be available then. There is quality but currently but at the moment this is not enough to compete with teams like [Colombia] or Ukraine and Poland."

Ramelow sympathises with Flick, and is unsure a change of coach would necessarily result in a change of fortunes. The pressure, though, is on ahead of Euro 2024.

"I think we all agree that the coach and his staff have an important role," he added. "We know what the business is like and the fact that the manager has to listen to a lot of criticism now is justified.

"He also accepts that. I see a lot of helplessness right now. No one in the interviews can say how things will continue. We all know we have good young players, which is fine, but to reach the final stages of an international tournament again is being considered very difficult. But what is the solution now?

"I feel like the manager had a lot of helplessness. He won't give up and it will go on as he said. He wants to prepare well for the next games. His task is to put a good team together and to bring back passion and mentality. You have to see a unit.

"Mentality is also a matter of character. A coach can barely train that. You either have it or you don't but he has to form a team and the results have to be good. I'm not saying anything new here, the business is tough. I think you could put anyone else on the touchline, it would be difficult for every coach."

Ilkay Gundogan promised Manchester City "will fight to the end" as they bid to match Manchester United's famous 1998-99 treble feat.

Captain Gundogan is in his seventh season at City and is chasing a fifth Premier League title, a second FA Cup and a first Champions League crown.

United great Gary Neville has described City as being "far too close for comfort" to matching the Red Devils' famous feat of 24 years ago.

This week sees City in Champions League and FA Cup action, with a 3-0 advantage to carry into their European quarter-final second leg at Bayern Munich on Wednesday ahead of a domestic semi-final against Sheffield United at Wembley on Saturday.

They are in hot pursuit of a faltering Arsenal in the Premier League and host the Gunners next week in that competition.

City have never won the Champions League and ending that wait is becoming an obsession, a remarkable situation considering they were relegated to the third tier of English football 25 years ago.

Huge investment since has made the dream possible, and Gundogan said: "Of course we want to win this trophy. It's our big dream to win the Champions League."

In an interview with German outlet T-Online, he added: "But we want to win all the trophies this year. It's going to be a really exciting end to this season, and we're going to fight for it to the end."

The midfielder, whose contract expires after this campaign, described it as the players' "responsibility to do everything we can to end the season strong so that we can all celebrate success in the end".

It was Gundogan who scored twice in the closing moments of last season as City came from 2-0 behind to beat Aston Villa 3-2 and win the Premier League title.

This term he has managed five goals and four assists, well down on his return from the past two campaigns (2021: 17 goals, four assists; 2022: 10 goals, seven assists), but he remains highly influential and City would like to keep him.

It remains to be seen whether Gundogan remains a City player when the Euro 2024 finals roll around next year, with Germany hosting.

The 32-year-old certainly hopes to still be in favour with his national team, saying it "would be a privilege" to feature.

Considering Germany have gone out in the group stage at the last two World Cups, and lost to England in the last 16 of the delayed Euro 2020 finals, they will have to markedly step it up if they are to be competitive in front of home crowds.

"We all know that we have to improve and deliver better performances and results – even before the tournament," Gundogan said.

Jamal Musiala is one of the best talents Germany has ever produced, according to team-mate Leon Goretzka.

Musiala has burst onto the scene for his club side Bayern Munich as well as his national team, leading the former with 11 goals in this season's Bundesliga and impressing at the World Cup in Qatar despite Germany's shock early exit.

Goretzka plays alongside Musiala for both club and country, and he ranks the 20-year-old as one of the finest players his national side have ever produced.

"Jamal might be one of the biggest talents Germany has ever had because he's already able to constantly deliver good performances," Goretzka told UEFA.com.

"He doesn't have many ups and downs. The fact that he's already in our starting XI every week shows that. He helps us achieve our goals.

"He's extremely good on the ball, in narrow spaces, and he creates a lot of danger. He has outstanding qualities. If he keeps working like that and stays fit, the sky is the limit for him."

Goretzka, 28, feels it is up to him and his fellow senior players to help young prospects reach their potential, saying: "It's my task to help younger players and to serve as an example. Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben were the players who helped me when I came to Bayern.

"So I see it as my task. I won't tell [Musiala] how to dribble or what to do every day, because he knows best what to do, but I want to help him on the pitch, give him that strength or be there for him when he has a question, and help him in situations he doesn't know about yet, like all the media things that can be expected of him in the future. All of us in the team want to help him."

Bayern face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final, and having been a key member of the team that won Europe's top club prize in the 2019-2020 season, Goretzka is hoping his side can lift the famous trophy again this campaign.

The German champions came through a tough group that included Inter and Barcelona, winning all six of their games to cruise through to the round of 16 where they then comfortably saw off Paris Saint-Germain, who they beat in the 2019-2020 final, 3-0 on aggregate.

"It's [Champions League] certainly the Everest of club football," Goretzka said. "If you look at the results so far, we have been very dominant this season.

"I think a lot of people in Germany gasped when they first saw our group. It was called the group of death with Inter, Barcelona and Bayern. It was clear one of those three big clubs would have to exit the competition at the group stage but we were sure it wasn't going to be us. In the end, we came through the group stage very confidently."

Bayern will be without striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting for the first leg against City, with the striker not travelling to Manchester because of a knee problem that ruled him out of the 1-0 Bundesliga victory at Freiburg on Saturday.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.