As the first international break of 2017 dawns, there is a seemingly mouthwatering friendly to kick us off as Germany host England. Almost a year to the day since the last time these two met before Euro 2016, the two sides has faced differing fortunes. Primarily, Germany would have felt aggrieved to be knocked out at the semi-final stage in France last year but have roared into their 2018 World Cup qualifying stage with the usual gusto. England’s pathetic displays at the Euros ensured first that Roy Hodgson met his demise before Sam Allardyce’s sheer stupidity saw his dream job collapse around him just a few months later. Now the two coaches with varying levels of experience, Joachim Löw and Gareth Southgate, see their sides lock horns once again.
Form and history
The last six meetings between the two sides have rendered three wins for each side, but there is a much clearer pattern than that. In the games of little or no importance, such as friendlies, England have the upper hand. Their 3-2 win in Germany last March was preceded by another away win in November 2008, which ended 2-1. However, in competitive and tournament fixtures, Germany are dominant. The 4-1 win at the 2010 World Cup stands out, while the last competitive England win came on that September evening in Munich in 2001 (even Heskey scored).
As aforementioned, Germany have blown away all in their path to qualification for the 2018 World Cup. Four played, four wins, 16 goals without reply. Albeit the opposition have been incredibly poor, it’s impressive nonetheless. England, meanwhile, have been subdued but steady – which is to be expected after such tumultuous managerial upheaval. Ten points from four games, including a 3-0 win over Scotland and a 0-0 draw in Slovenia, doesn’t exactly spell confidence but given their friendly record against Germany, the visitors will be up for this one.
The most striking absence from the German squad will be the withdrawal of Manuel Neuer due to injury, who will also miss the qualifier against Azerbaijan. Elsewhere, Mesut Özil has travelled with the team despite sitting out recent Arsenal fixtures with an alleged injury. Jérôme Boateng also misses out, so there is competition for the place next to Mats Hummels in the centre of defence. Lukas Podolski, who has been in good form for Galatasaray, is expected to feature.
For England, Wayne Rooney is not in the squad, although it is doubtful he could have been included on form anyway. Michail Antonio was injured on club duty and has also been withdrawn, while Kyle Walker is a doubt at right-back. Harry Kane is out indefinitely, but other than that there was a pretty open field for Southgate to choose from.
Germany (4-2-3-1): Marc-André ter Stegen; Joshua Kimmich, Benedikt Höwedes, Mats Hummels, Jonas Hector; Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira; Leroy Sané, Thomas Müller, André Schürrle; Lukas Podolski
England (4-3-3): Joe Hart; Nathaniel Clyne, Gary Cahill, John Stones, Ryan Bertrand; Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Adam Lallana; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jamie Vardy, Raheem Sterling
With England still in transition, but with a young and hungry group of players, they will have something to prove. Germany, however, do not. They know that the meaningful game is yet to come at the weekend and may put out something of an experimental side. I think England will pose a much stronger test than any of Germany’s group opponents, so I’ll go for a 2-1 away victory.