England 0-0 Germany: Inexperienced hosts hold world champs

MARTIN SAMUEL AT WEMBLEY: Do not be fooled by the scoreline. This was not, in fact, just another dull friendly. It was actually quite a good night for Gareth Southgate and England.

Do not be fooled by the scoreline. This was not, in fact, just another dull friendly. It was actually quite a good night for Gareth Southgate and England.

He fielded the youngest national team since 1980 and did not succumb to a useful German side. He gave five players their debut and found two serious contenders in that bunch in Jordan Pickford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. If others, like Tammy Abraham, looked to have been promoted too soon – well, at least he now knows.

That is what these fixtures in the build-up to next summer are about. Knowing. Knowing who is ready, knowing who is not. 

Julian Draxler smashed over the bar after a Sane shot was blocked on the line and a Timo Werner effort was saved

Julian Draxler smashed over the bar after a Sane shot was blocked on the line and a Timo Werner effort was saved

Abraham had a shot narrowly deflected wide as England created several good chances in this prestige friendly

Abraham had a shot narrowly deflected wide as England created several good chances in this prestige friendly

England came closest to an opener in the final minutes of the first half, Jamie Vardy almost lobbing Marc Andre ter Stegen

England came closest to an opener in the final minutes of the first half, Jamie Vardy almost lobbing Marc Andre ter Stegen

GAME FACTS AND MATCH ZONE FROM WEMBLEY

England (3-5-2): Pickford; Jones (Gomez 25), Stones, Maguire; Trippier (Walker 71), Livermore (Cork 86), Dier, Loftus-Cheek, Rose (Bertrand 71); Vardy (Lingard 86), Abraham (Rashford 60)

Unused subs: Hart, Keane, Cahill, Young

Bookings: Gomez 45+1, Livermore 59 

Germany (3-4-3): ter Stegen; Ginter, Hummels, Rudiger; Kimmich, Gundogan (Rudy 86), Ozil, Halstenberg; Draxler (Can 67), Werner (Wagner 73), Sane (Brandt 86)

Unused subs: Trapp, Sule, Plattenhardt, Khedira, Leno, Stindl, Boateng, Gotze

Referee: Pawel Raczkowski

Attendance: 81,382 

England did not manage more than a single effort on target - Tammy Abraham's 47th minute header. For more stats and facts check out our exclusive MATCH ZONE service here.

England did not manage more than a single effort on target - Tammy Abraham's 47th minute header. For more stats and facts check out our exclusive MATCH ZONE service here.

 

Kieran Trippier is now, without doubt, a genuine rival to Kyle Walker at right back. Harry Maguire is a work in progress, but most certainly merits further chances. Phil Jones is becoming the defender we hoped he would be; but his injuries remain a terrible worry. He lasted 25 minutes here and, when he left, England were shorn of their most experienced player: a full 20 caps.

Yes, it was a friendly. Germany no doubt have other gears – three of them, quite possibly - but so do England. Big names were missing here and, in the circumstances, to emerge with a draw is encouraging.

It was a friendly tournament that convinced Terry Venables he had a new right-back in Gary Neville, and Southgate will certainly have to consider promoting Pickford up his pecking order after this. He made exceptional saves, his distribution was excellent – and one shot from Leroy Sane aside, he was in control throughout.

Loftus-Cheek, too, played with confidence in the heart of midfield. With England so short in that position, one good game means more than it does in other areas. Loftus-Cheek may well have played himself into contention in just 90 minutes.

Before the game Wembley fell silent in remembrance of fallen soldiers ahead of Armistice Day, the Sunday after the game

Before the game Wembley fell silent in remembrance of fallen soldiers ahead of Armistice Day, the Sunday after the game

Leroy Sane hit the cross bar with a brilliant curling effort that left England keeper Jordan Pickford as a spectator

Leroy Sane hit the cross bar with a brilliant curling effort that left England keeper Jordan Pickford as a spectator

Everton stopper Pickford was very impressive after making an unexpected debut in place of the injured Jack Butland

Everton stopper Pickford was very impressive after making an unexpected debut in place of the injured Jack Butland

Tammy Abraham - one of three debutants in the England starting line-up - battles for the ball with Antonio Rudiger

Tammy Abraham - one of three debutants in the England starting line-up - battles for the ball with Antonio Rudiger

Abraham was subbed off after an hour, with his efforts earning an ovation from the crowd and a handshake from the manager

Abraham was subbed off after an hour, with his efforts earning an ovation from the crowd and a handshake from the manager

Young teams are problematic. After England under-17’s won the World Cup, a very experienced manager, who spends much of his time watching youth football, said that none of the players – not even breakout star Phil Foden – are currently ready for Premier League football. While Gareth Southgate deserves credit for answering the latest personnel crisis with promotions from the under-21 ranks, the step up to senior football – even non-competitive – is a sizable elevation. At times the gulf was terrifying.

This does not mean these players can never be England internationals; more that, for some, the promotion – while close to unavoidable given Southgate’s options – was simply too soon.

At 24, Harry Maguire is not a prodigy, merely inexperienced at this level, and with Southgate insisting his back three should be comfortable on the ball, he had to be tried. His first touch was close to calamitous however, an underhit back pass that would have put Timo Werner in was it not for the quick reaction of Jordan Pickford. 

Immediately, at the other end, further evidence of England’s rawness. Jamie Vardy, who started very brightly, much as he finished that time in Berlin, sped down the left flank and hit a lovely cross into the six yard box. Tammy Abraham got into a great position, but missed his kick. It was the start of a series of minor calamities for the Chelsea-cum-Swansea striker. 

Vardy attempted to find Abraham from a bouncing through ball, however it was well dealt with by the Germany defence

Vardy attempted to find Abraham from a bouncing through ball, however it was well dealt with by the Germany defence

Germany captain Mats Hummels clears the ball out from under the crossbar as the visitors withstood rare pressure

Germany captain Mats Hummels clears the ball out from under the crossbar as the visitors withstood rare pressure

Loftus-Cheek - who excited the England crowd whenever he got on the ball - rises to try and head a cross into the net

Loftus-Cheek - who excited the England crowd whenever he got on the ball - rises to try and head a cross into the net

The Chelsea midfielder, on loan at Crystal Palace this season, looked assured on the ball and was named man of the match

The Chelsea midfielder, on loan at Crystal Palace this season, looked assured on the ball and was named man of the match

Let’s be fair: in mitigation for the young man, he shouldn’t be out there. His loan move is going well, but he is not among the best strikers in the country, yet, and were Southgate blessed with a deeper pool he would be on the substitutes bench, at best.

Yet with so many players from Tottenham and Manchester City withdrawing, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was no doubt getting anxious about the load about to fall on Marcus Rashford. Maybe Southgate has steered a course of diplomacy. That would certainly be the best explanation for Rashford’s absence from the starting line-up. If he is earmarked for Brazil on Tuesday, perhaps it was thought tactful not to start him twice in five days.

So it fell to Abraham to lead England’s line with mixed results. He got into excellent positions but often failed to capitalise on them. One through pass was over-hit by a good 20 yards; another square ball shot straight into touch. He had a deflected effort win a corner just before half-time and, to his credit, was always available, always looking for the ball.

It just appeared a little soon for him. He needs more than a dozen or so Premier League outings. When Germany promote through their ranks, the young players tend to have considerably more experience.

It showed with the next generation here. Germany’s game management was excellent going forward, operating in between England’s lines, nipping in behind defensive shield and captain Eric Dier, quick and enterprising on the break. In Leroy Sane, they possess an exceptional talent – unsurprisingly identified by Pep Guardiola – who could have scored one of Wembley’s great goals to open the scoring after 21 minutes.

He picked up the ball on the edge of the area, looked up, spotted Pickford slightly off his line and hit one. Pickford was nowhere. He slung an arm up hopefully and was saved by the bar, the ball ricocheting down onto the pitch and away to safety. He didn’t have a clue about it really. 

An inexperienced England side became even more so when Phil Jones hobbled off to be replaced by uncapped Joe Gomez

An inexperienced England side became even more so when Phil Jones hobbled off to be replaced by uncapped Joe Gomez

Kieran Trippier chases the ball down as a youthful England side started brightly, although they were soon under pressure

Kieran Trippier chases the ball down as a youthful England side started brightly, although they were soon under pressure

Harry Maguire brings the ball out from England's back three, as the entertaining first 45 minutes ended goalless

Harry Maguire brings the ball out from England's back three, as the entertaining first 45 minutes ended goalless

Eric Dier - who captained England in the absence of several other more experienced candidates - watches the ball

Eric Dier - who captained England in the absence of several other more experienced candidates - watches the ball

Marcus Rashford, who came on for Abraham, battles for possession against Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil

Marcus Rashford, who came on for Abraham, battles for possession against Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil

Soon after, a German break that epitomised their style. Swiftly in behind Dier again – maybe he should watch them more – and into England’s back three. First, Timo Werner had a shot saved by Pickford; when the rebound fell to Sane, he was denied on the line by a diving header from Phil Jones; finally Julian Draxler put the third attempt over.

Sadly, it was the last part Jones would play in the game. Struggling with injury from early, he had elected to play on, but this last act of courage was too much. He limped off, replaced by Joe Gomez. Jose Mourinho was across Europe, watching the qualifier between Sweden and Italy. As someone who never complains about injuries, he probably won’t even mention it. What are the odds?

There was time for one last German foray forward, Werner again, outstripping Stones and left with only Pickford to beat. The Everton man denied him once more, as effective for his country as he has been for his club this season.

England’s chances were fewer, but not without merit. They started the second-half well and the excellent Kieran Trippier – who may be this country’s best crosser of a ball since David Beckham – picked out Vardy after 48 minutes, his header steered just side, the best opportunity of the game so far for England. 

Joe Hart - regular England No 1 in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup - was demoted to the bench with Pickford starting

Joe Hart - regular England No 1 in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup - was demoted to the bench with Pickford starting

England manager Gareth Southgate barks out orders, while his German counterpart Joachim Low watches on

England manager Gareth Southgate barks out orders, while his German counterpart Joachim Low watches on

England's Under-17 World Cup winners were presented on the pitch at half time, and showed off their trophy

England's Under-17 World Cup winners were presented on the pitch at half time, and showed off their trophy