Roy Hodgson and his England side travelled to Berlin on Saturday to face 2014 World Cup winners Germany. With the start of Euro 2016 creeping ever closer, this and the other friendlies provide huge opportunities for players to stake a claim for a place in The Three Lions’ squad for France. Germany would also be looking to utilise the fixture to prepare their men for the tournament, and due to their recent success, they will be deemed as favourites to lift the trophy in the summer.
Despite England being the underdogs, they put in a solid performance that showed real character and determination. Germany managed to race into a commanding lead but the away side stuck to their principles and it paid off with a remarkable comeback being strung. Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier all found the net to overturn the goals scored by Toni Kroos and Mario Gomez, handing England a 3-2 victory.
The opening exchanges were relatively even as both teams looked to gain a foothold on the ball. England would have been happy with the start they made though as they kept possession well, albeit without creating much of note. Mario Gomez did have an opportunity to open the scoring on 12 minutes as Emre Can found him with a pinpoint cross. Gary Cahill did brilliantly however, getting his body in front of the striker to block. Marco Reus then sliced an effort wide just seconds later after Jack Butland parried a Gomez header to the edge of the box.
As the Germans began to control the ball, they were a bit lackadaisical in their passing on 18 minutes and England nipped in to steal possession. Daniel Welbeck did well after a quick move and his cushioned touch allowed Dele Alli to fire over with a sweet strike from 25 yards. Following this chance, the away side looked encouraged to get forward and the more attacking players in the side began to interchange excellently to create space in the Germany half. Despite some intricate moves,
With 27 minutes played, Gomez looked to have given the hosts the lead as he fired a strike past Butland after being slid in behind. To his annoyance, the goal was chalked off for offside but after watching the replay, it was clear to see he was level with Nathaniel Clyne. 10 minutes later and England had a chance themselves as Harry Kane found Welbeck lurking in the area. The Arsenal forward was challenged well, however, but Adam Lallana latched onto the loose ball to strike on goal but Manuel Neur was able to watch it sail harmlessly over his crossbar.
The latter period of the opening half saw the two sets of players cancel each other out, but that was until the scores were opened on 43 minutes. Butland had picked up an injury moments before as seemingly overstretched when kicking the ball clear, and his limited mobility certainly had a part to play in the goal. Toni Kroos was allowed to meander forward with the ball and he struck a low drive into the bottom corner at the England keeper’s near post. After conceding, Butland was visually distraught as he was stretchered from the field of play and Fraser Forster took his place between the posts.
With neither manager electing to make a change at the interval, both sides looked to build on their respective performances in the first period. It was Joachim Low’s men that saw more of the ball during the initial stages and a swinging free kick from Roos bounced awkwardly to force Forster to tip over on 51 minutes. Up the other end just a minute later and Neur was called into action himself as Alli flashed a strike towards goal. The imposing goalkeeper got down smartly to parry the ball away from danger with Welbeck poised to attack any potential rebounds.
The next real chance fell England’s way once more after some relentless pressure from Welbeck allowed him to keep the ball in play with Can flailing. He then squared the ball into the area and Jordan Henderson but his goal bound effort was deflected away from danger. Despite the visitors’ promise, it was Germany who scored the next goal of the game on 57 minutes to stretch their lead to 2-0. Some patient build-up eventually saw Sami Khedira play a clipped cross over the England defence and Gomez headed excellent into the far corner with Forster left helpless.
Just after the hour mark, England hauled themselves back into proceedings as a Henderson cross towards the back post caused havoc. Germany’s defence failed to clear and the ball fell to Harry Kane who turned remarkably before fizzing a shot into the bottom corner past a sprawling Neur. In the 69th minute, England put together an incisive attacking move that carved open the home defence with ease. Some neat link-up between Kane, Welbeck and Lallana allowed Alli to get a shot away but Neur was down rapidly to deny the youngster with an outstretched leg.
The England manager decided to bring Ross Barkley and Jamie Vardy into the fray soon after and they instantaneously made an impact. With 75 minutes on the clock England then superbly levelled the scores as the aforementioned found Nathaniel Clyne in an advanced position down the right wing. It was his low cross that then found Vardy and he diverted the ball into the back of the net with a sublime piece of skill that stunned Germany’s keeper.
As the game approached conclusion, the travelling side were gifted a chance to take the lead on 84 minutes as Vardy raced onto a weak defensive pass. The Leicester man then pulled the ball back to Alli who was roaming free in the area but he somehow stabbed his effort over with the goal gaping. Despite that miss, England’s pressure paid off as Hodgson’s men won the game in stoppage time. Henderson whipped in a tempting cross and Dier attacked it with conviction to head into the back of the net and spark euphoria amongst England’s supporters.
That was certainly a very pleasing performance against the world’s best national side. Even with Germany leading 2-0 at one stage, England had certainty shown plenty of positives and the youthful attack was certainly looking lively. Defensively we looked relatively strong too, although we could perhaps have defended the goals more competently. Eric Dier could prove to be crucial in France and his performance in the defensive midfield role was exceptional, breaking up Germany’s forward ventures to good effect.
In front of him, Jordan Henderson and Dele Alli metronomically kept the game ticking over. The latter was particularly impressive as his undoubted technical ability shone, allowing him to venture into dangerous positions and cause the Germans all sorts of problems. Danny Welbeck and Harry Kane both looked capable up top as well. The previous put in a characteristically energetic shift, whilst the Tottenham forward capped off a confident display with a goal of the highest quality.
Jamie Vardy’s contribution off the bench was emphatic to say the least as he confidently slotted home. It looks as if it could be exciting times for England and beating Germany on their own patch sends out a strong message to our fellow competitors. We have goals in this team that’s for sure, and it was actually a joy to watch the football that was on display – not something I would usually say after watching The Three Lions.
The youthful side of our team means we are susceptible to the odd mistake, but they are adventurous and willing to take risks in order to win games. Would we have turned that game on its head with the team of 2014? I’m not so sure. Things are looking up for us a nation, and despite it only being March, I am optimistic in regards to our chances during the summer months. Confidence is key, that will give us a huge boost.