When an MP declared last month unsold England tickets should be given to school children many wondered if that was meant as an alternative to detention. England’s last 4 outings were largely drab affairs as England laboured past defensive negative sides on their way to the World Cup.
Gareth Southgate had little option but to pick an inexperienced side with Jordan Pickford, Ruben Loftus Cheek and Tammy Abraham all handed debuts in a revised 3-4-1-2 system. Joachim Loew also picked an experimental side but one that still included Mesut Ozil, Matts Hummels, Julian Draxler and Manchester City bolter Leroy Sane.
A temporary statue of the 1914 Christmas truce was erected on Wembley Way for the game, the reconciliation gestures continued inside the stadium with a wreath laying ceremony.
Surprisingly the game started at a pace as the opening 90 seconds saw a poor Maguire back pass almost give Germany the lead and then Vardy sprung the German offside trap to open up The visitors but Kieran Trippier hit the side netting.
As the game settled Germany began to find their passing range with Ozil and Draxler orchestrating and Sane a constant threat, meanwhile England countered at pace with Loftus-Cheek providing some much needed guile to the England midfield.
On 20 minutes some loose defending saw Sane given time to pick his spot and find the woodwork, 2 minutes later a quick Germany break saw Werner denied by a splendid Pickford save and Sane by a Jones goal line clearance before Draxler crashed over the bar. It was Jones’ final action of the game before a hamstring problem saw him replaced with Joe Gomez.
Germany continued to have the majority of possession but Stones was excellent marshalling the rejigged England defence whilst Vardy continued to cause Rudiger problems at the other end.
As the half headed to a conclusion Danny Mills called out on Sky Sports it was’ only a matter of time before Germany score’ reminding me of the chant Leeds fans had for Mills when he was their rightback ‘Danny Mills is f*!king brilliant!’
But Mills was almost proved right on 38 minutes when Timo Werner got in behind the England backline drawing another fine save from Pickford. Maguire despite a few shaky moments at the back was excellent bringing the ball forward and one of his runs on 41 minutes played in Abraham whose shot on the swivel almost ricocheted into the Germany net but fell harmlessly into the side netting. It sprang England into a late rally as Vardy and Livermore went close in the dying seconds of the half. But Germany saw off the danger and it remained 0-0 at the interval.
England started the second half well with Marc-Andre te Stegen forced into a brilliant one-handed save from a Vardy header. Germany continued to build with good possession, but Loftus-Cheek was growing in confidence and England opened Germany up with a neat passing move on 57 minutes but the ball ultimately flashed harmlessly across the box.
The inevitable spate of friendly substitutions stated after 65 minutes with both sides making multiple changes and neither side looked truly like they could break the deadlock, Germany continuing to probe whilst England countered at speed with the excellent Hummels pushed into several last-ditch tackles.
England finished the stronger and pushed for a winner in front of an increasingly vibrant Wembley crowd with Jesse Lingard adding some urgency and won a last second freekick but Lingard blazed the knock down over the bar 0-0 at full time.
Ultimately Germany should have scored in this game but defeat would have been harsh on England who showed far more invention and defensive stability than we’ve become accustomed to seeing. England face another tough friendly on Tuesday against Brazil but should enter that match with renewed confidence after a credible showing against the world’s best team.
Jordan Pickford 8/10- Produced 2 stunning first half saves whilst his distribution gave England an added dimension. Now a genuine contender for the England no 1 spot.
Kieran Trippier 7/10- Another good showing from the Spurs fullback, excellent going forward and solid in defence- looks nailed on for at least a squad place next summer.
Phil Jones 7/10- Lead the backline well and made a brilliant last-ditch clearance top deny Sane before going off injured. Now England’s premier centre back.
John Stones 7/10- Much improved from the error prone defender we saw last season, Stones looks assured and as ever comfortable on the ball, a key man for England.
Harry Maguire 6/10- Iffy in defence, giving away 2 chances, but remains good going forward- an important asset in a back 3. Will get another chance.
Danny Rose 6/10- Nice to have him back after Ryan Bertrand’s solid but uninspiring run in the team. Occasionally out of position defensively but a willing outlet down the left.
Eric Dier 7/10- Solid from the new captain and more incision than we’ve become accustomed to seeing. Surely a strong contender for the full-time armband.
Jake Livermore 6/10- Some heavy touches in the first half and took a booking for the team in the second. Wth the likes of Delph, Henderson, Winks and Chalobah to come back he won’t get many more chances to make his case for inclusion.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek 8/10- Excellent, showed discipline in defence and thrust going forward as he opened up Germany more than once. Man of the Match on debut.
Jamie Vardy 6/10- Started both halves strongly and only denied a goal by a stunning Te Stegen save. A World Cup certainty.
Tammy Abraham 7/10- Good in possession, strong in the air a decent debut for the Swansea striker.
Joe Gomez 6/10- A solid debut from the Liverpool defender- did nothing wrong but little of note.
Marcus Rashford n/a- Not his most memorable England game.
Kyle Walker n/a- Got forward well and avoided any defensive cock ups.
Ryan Bertrand n/a- Solid, as ever.
Jesse Lingard n/a- Injected some pace at the death. Shame he didn’t bring his shooting boots.
Jack Cork n/a- Got a cap!