England 0-0 Germany: five talking points from the friendly at Wembley
England’s starting debutants impressed, Gareth Southgate’s three at the back needs more work and Leroy Sané can light up the World Cup finals in Russia
1) The kids are, indeed, all right
All England’s starting debutants impressed in phases. Jordan Pickford’s saves from Timo Werner were smartly made; Joe Hart has further competition. Tammy Abraham was confident and demanding and might have scored with his first touch while Ruben Loftus-Cheek grew impressively into the fray. His confidence was bolstered from the moment he nutmegged Marcel Halstenberg after 18 minutes. It was his clipped pass for Jamie Vardy which might have led to a lead and his driving run which kick-started England after the break. He boasts the presence and skill and lacks only a ruthless streak and game awareness. Yet this was all rather promising.
2) Chelsea’s academy should celebrate this occasion
It says much about the level of competition back in the Premier League that Abraham and Loftus-Cheek, whose potential had been flagged up through Chelsea’s academy system but have nine top-flight appearances between them for the champions, have found passage into the England senior team more straightforward. Both are impressing on loan in the division’s lower reaches and their selection here is sure to encourage those in the youth-team set-up at Cobham that the pair can make the grade at their parent club. Michael Emenalo, the technical director so instrumental in constructing the loan policy at Chelsea, quit this week. Their selection ensured he left on a high.
3) Welcome to your new formation
Gareth Southgate has committed England to three at the back and had envisaged showcasing the system. There were signs of adjustment, with Leroy Sané licking his lips at the space behind Kieran Trippier. Phil Jones, England’s most experienced starter, attempted to cover but departed injured midway through the first period. Joe Gomez, England’s fourth debutant, was composed and even cynical when he needed to be, as his booking for a trip on Sané proved. The system should allow the wing-backs, whether Danny Rose and Trippier, or Ryan Bertrand and Kyle Walker, to revel going forward, thereby playing to England’s strengths. But the collective balance may need more work.
4) Germany’s strength in depth is frightening
For all the excitement generated by England’s most inexperienced team in 37 years, a line-up with a combined total of 101 caps, the Germans boasted more players under 23. Joachim Löw had intended to offer fringe performers an opportunity and there was a debut for the marauding left wing-back Halstenberg and another run out for Leipzig’s lively forward, Timo Werner. Joshua Kimmich, making inroads down the right, boasts 25 caps at the age of 22, while Marc-André Ter Stegen is a useful understudy for the injured Manuel Neuer as his save from Vardy proved. There is talent to put England’s promise into context. And that is without mentioning their most potent threat.
5) Sané can illuminate the finals in Russia
Sané has run riot in the Premier League with Manchester City this season but Löw must be relishing the opportunity to unleash him on the World Cup. The winger missed the Confederations Cup as he had nose surgery to correct a breathing problem, and boasted a solitary start for his country – against Azerbaijan – over the autumn. The shot whipped over Pickford on to the crossbar 20 minutes in served notice of his intent. Opponents have no respite while he is on the ball, with both Gomez and Jake Livermore cautioned for fouls aimed at suffocating his threat. The 21-year-old could make the World Cup his stage.