For the most part, England manager Gareth Southgate has had a relatively popular standing within the English press and fan base.

A semi-final appearance at the 2018 World Cup was better than was expected and reaching their first major final since 1966 at the 2020 European Championships, losing on penalties to Italy, also enhanced Southgate’s standing further.

However, the England manager now faces arguably his toughest test as a manager – saving England from the ignominy of being relegated from their Nations League division as the bottom team in League A Group 3.

With Wales and Northern Ireland also struggling in their respective groups, only Scotland out of the home nations have picked up a win in the competition in the four previous games, and the Scots have done so on two occasions, leaving themselves in with a chance of being promoted to the division England and Wales could be relegated out of.

So how bad is it for England? Let’s take a closer look at how results have gone in League A Group 3 so far, and we’ll also preview the games coming up and give you some betting odds courtesy of bet365 Sport for the game.

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Nations League – League A Group 3

Results

  • Hungary 1-0 England (Szoboszlai 66(p))
  • Italy 1-1 Germany (Pellegrini 70), (Kimmich 73)
  • Italy 2-1 Hungary (Barella 30, Pellegrini 45), (Mancini 61 OG)
  • Germany 1-1 England (Hofmann 50), (Kane 88(p))
  • England 0-0 Italy
  • Hungary 1-1 Germany (Nagy 6), (Hofmann 9)
  • Germany 5-2 Italy (Kimmich 10, Gundogan 45(p), Muller 51, Werner 68,69), (Gnonto 78, Bastoni 90)
  • England 0-4 Hungary (Sallai 16,70, Nagy 80, Gazdag 89)

England started their Nations League campaign in poor fashion with an underwhelming performance against Hungary away from home seeing them go down to a 1-0 defeat against a team that they had beaten comfortably in World Cup qualifying just 12 months before.

The Three Lions then needed a fortuitous 88th minute penalty from Harry Kane to salvage a draw against Germany and then they were held at Wembley by their nemesis from the Euro 2020 finals Italy in another disappointing performance.

Worse was to come however as in the home game with Hungary, the visitors inflicted England’s heaviest home defeat since the 1920’s on Southgate’s team, winning 4-0 to put themselves top of the group and leave England’s position in League A in jeopardy as is shown in the current table below.

Current Table

  1. Hungary – 7pts (+4)
  2. Germany – 6pts (+3)
  3. Italy – 5pts (-2)
  4. England – 2pts (-5)

Nations League Rules

The team finishing bottom of each Group in each League will be relegated from their current league to the one below, with the teams finishing top of the groups in the league below replacing them.

The team that wins the group will contest the next Nations League Semifinals with the other three League A group winners. These will be played next year at a venue yet to be selected.

The teams finishing second and third in the group remain in League A for the next Nations League competition.

What Do England Need To Do In Their Remaining Games?

In short, win both. Nothing less than picking up six points from their last two games will be enough to ensure England stay in League A.

Four points would be enough for England to stay in League A, but only if Italy were to lose both their games, or England defeat Italy by a big enough score to have a better head to head record and better goal difference and then Italy to draw their final game away to Hungary.

Should Italy beat England, then England would be confirmed as relegated from League A for the next Nations League, dropping into League B.

Hungary, Germany and Italy are also battling it out to finish top of the group.

Let’s now take a look at the squad Gareth Southgate has selected to try and rescue England’s faltering Nations League campaign.

England Squad For Nations League Games 5 & 6

Goalkeepers

  • Dean Henderson (Nottingham Forest)
  • Nick Pope (Newcastle United)
  • Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)

Defenders

  • Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
  • Ben Chilwell (Chelsea)
  • Conor Coady (Everton)
  • Eric Dier (Tottenham)
  • Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace)
  • Reece James (Chelsea)
  • Harry Maguire (Manchester United)
  • Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
  • John Stones (Manchester City)
  • Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan)
  • Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United)
  • Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

Midfielders

  • Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund)
  • Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
  • Mason Mount (Chelsea)
  • Declan Rice (West Ham United)
  • James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
  • Phil Foden (Manchester City)
  • Jack Grealish (Manchester City)

Attackers

  • Tammy Abraham (AS Roma)
  • Jarrod Bowen (West Ham)
  • Harry Kane (Tottenham)
  • Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
  • Raheem Sterling (Chelsea)
  • Ivan Toney (Brentford)

There are a number of controversial selections. Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw are out of favour at Manchester United and not playing in the team, but were selected, but Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, who both are playing and doing well under Erik Ten Haag continue to be overlooked.

Southgate has also picked 12 defenders in the squad, despite England needing to win both games and score goals in the process.

Additionally, Jordan Henderson has been out injured for Liverpool, as has Ben Chilwell for Chelsea and how fit they are for the two games will remain to be seen.

Remaining Fixtures

Friday 23rd September (7.45pm Kick Off)

  • Germany v Hungary (Leipzig)
  • Italy v England (Milan)

England have a dismal record against Italy. Since 1980, the three Lions have beaten Italy just twice in 16 games and never in a major European tournament. All four of the last four games between the two have finished as draws, with Italy winning the Euro 2020 tournament final on penalties.

Including penalty wins, Italy have won 9 and drawn five of those 16 games and no team has scored more than two goals in a game between the two since a 3-2 win for England over Italy in a Bi-Centenary friendly in 1976.

Despite this, England are the 6/4 favourites to win in Italy with bet365 at the time of writing, with Italy at 9/5 and the draw 11/5. I would suggest that backing Italy to win, or more likely the draw, is certainly the best option based on the recent history between the two teams.

Prediction – Italy 1-0 England – 13/2 with bet365.

Monday 26th September (7.45pm Kick Off)

  • England v Germany (Wembley)
  • Hungary v Italy (Budapest)

If England do lose in Milan to Italy, then this game is a dead rubber for the Three Lions as they will already be relegated, so I’d expect him to perhaps give some fringe players a game here to give them some experience.

Germany were beaten 2-0 on their last visit to Wembley in Euro 2020 but like Italy, they have a very good historic record against England, especially in games that matter and it is likely the Germans will also have one eye on winning this group and making it to the Nations League Semi Finals.

There’s no odds available for this game just yet, but I think England will do enough to claim a point here, which may or may not be enough for Germany to top the group too.

Prediction – England 1-1 Germany

Whatever happens, it is going to be a nail-biting few days for England fans as their team battles for their Nations League top flight future.