England 0 Germany 1: Five talking points
England 0 Germany 1: Five talking points as Per Mertesacker scores the winner at Wembley
After England’s 2-0 defeat by Chile, there were a lot of criticism of Glen Johnson’s performance. But Kyle Walker also struggled against Germany on Tuesday night. Both right-backs bomb forward down the wing but look suspect defensively, and while they may get forward well, the pair lack the decision-making required in the final third. With both right-backs struggling, it’s an area which is continuing to give Roy Hodgson a real headache. With several months still to go until the World Cup, it gives him a dilemma of who to pick.
The Per revolution continues!
The headlines may have gone to Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil in the opening weeks of the season for Arsenal, but just as important has been the form of Per Mertesacker. The German has been a rock at the heart of the Arsenal defence and he continued in the same vein of form for Germany. The Gunners vice-captain netted a towering header from a corner which the England defence failed to clear. The centre-half was solid all night long as he rarely let England get in behind him and his team-mates. Arsenal will long be hoping his current form continues and the memory of some shaky Mertesacker performances can be consigned to the past.
Young v Old
While the media constantly talk about the need to blood the youth and move England forward, it was the old guard that impressed at Wembley. England’s best players were Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney against the Germans, whilst the likes of Ross Barkley, Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana were all rather quiet or frustrating. Can England go into the World Cup still depending on the likes of Gerrard as he continues to enter the twilight of his career? The youth do need to step up a bit more as the tournament approaches with Tom Cleverely also inconsistent. Hodgson may be forced to rely on the old guard again, although Andros Townsend was bright on the wing for the hosts.
Jekyl and Hyde Hart
Joe Hart’s recent issues have been well publicized, and on Tuesday, England supporters witnessed the best and worst of the England keeper. Hart made two fine saves in the course of the match, showing the qualities that got him to number one in the first place. However, he did come rushing out of his goal at one point and collide with Chris Smalling, which on another night, could have ended much worse. With other options limited for England, can Hart produce the form to give both his club and country a reliable custodian?
Where Are England?
These two friendlies were meant to give England a much clearer picture of where they are in the world order, and if the two losses are anything to go by, it isn’t good. Playing quality opposition, the Three Lions have struggled twice in four days – and haven’t even managed a goal! If England want to go far in the World Cup, they will need to be putting in better performances and beating the likes of Chile. Germany will be hoping to reach the semi-finals in Brazil, but England will be disappointed to have struggled against a second-string side.