In the first of their two major international friendlies, England welcomed the best team in the world to Wembley Stadium. With just seven months to go until the World Cup in Russia, having already qualified, Southgate used this colossal game to explore the full extent of his squad options. A win for Germany would have made it to 8 successive victories in a row, a record they haven’t achieved since 1991. For the Three Lions, they haven’t beaten the Germans at home since 1975.
The two rivals provided us with an enthralling match that showcased the true depths of each team’s national pool. In the end, the game would end even as the two teams tactically nullified each other.
Here are 3 talking points from England’s 0-0 draw with Germany.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek debuts
In England, it’s not uncommon for a young player to be hyped to the moon, only for him to fail in the near future. In recent years, just have a few youngsters stood the test of time, e.g. Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane. But get ready to add another young talent to that list, Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The 21-year-old has been the only shining light in a desperate Crystal Palace team this season. Now he’s been able to announce himself to the nation with a stellar senior England debut.
The Chelsea loanee completed all his attempted take-ons, won 1 aerial, created 2 chances and completed 48 passes. After this performance, it’s no doubt the youngster will be on the plane to Russia in the summer.
Jordan Pickford is England’s new no.1
As we told you before, Joe Hart should be nowhere near this England team. Many still believe in the West Ham keeper, but Pickford’s superb performance against Germany only further proved how far away Joe Hart should stay clear. The Everton keeper was bombarded with shots, in the several times Germany cut through England’s defence, Pickford was there to bail Gareth Southgate out.
Against the world cup winners, Pickford made 3 crucial saves at times where Germany were at their most dangerous. As always, the Germans were efficient, and when they had a chance, it was a clear-cut opportunity, as Timo Werner was denied twice by the 23-year-old. With Pickford in goal, England can rest assured their world cup hopes are in safe hands.
Mesut Özil in central midfield
It’s no secret that Joachim Low highly favours Mesut Özil. The world cup winning manager has been quoted as saying the Arsenal playmaker is the crucial component of his success. Regardless of critics or public opinion, Low always starts Özil in his XI’s and those decisions have paid a dividend. But today the German manager showed Mesut how much faith he truly had in him, by starting him in an unfamiliar CM position at Wembley. We all know how good the German is on the ball, it’s just his defensive work rate that’s questioned, and in CM, he needed to showcase both attributes.
In the heart of Germany’s midfield, Mesut Özil gave us a masterclass in how to subtly dictate a game. Arsène Wenger’s main man maintained a 94% passing accuracy, completing 104 passes, creating 1 chance and completing 3 successful take-ons.