England will be facing their old rivals in “enemy” territory on Wednesday when they take on Germany at Signal Iduna Park (or Westfalenstadion, as it’s also known). With the squad’s next World Cup qualifier looming, however, is this a fixture too many for the Three Lions?
England v. Germany – The Perfect Warm-Up Match?
Next week’s showdown with Germany is England’s first international football tie of 2017 – and it’s also their first match since Gareth Southgate signed a four-year contract to manage the team.
Their last matches took place in November, while the former England player was half-way through a four game interim manager tenure. They beat Scotland by 3-0 in a World Cup qualifier and drew with Spain (2-2) in a friendly, having beaten Malta by 2-0 and drawn with Slovenia (0-0) in World Cup qualifying matches the previous month.
England are currently at the top of the World Cup Qualifiers’ Group F table. However, with Slovenia and Slovakia just two and four points behind them respectively, their place in the finals is far from guaranteed. The Three Lions have a qualifying match against Lithuania scheduled for later this month, and five more group ties to play before the end of October.
Wednesday’s match against Germany and their tie with France in June should be the ideal warm-up games for the England squad, giving Southgate the chance to try out new players and tactics without taking any risks.
England v. Germany – Could This Tie Cost England World Cup Qualifying Points?
It’s the timing of the England v. Germany match that’s causing some football experts concern, however. Firstly, according to the Sun, Premier League fixtures scheduled to take place on Sunday mean that Southgate’s squad will only be able to train together for one full day before the England vs. Germany game. This means they won’t be as well prepared as they’d like to be – and although it’s only a friendly, national pride is still at stake.
Secondly, England’s match against Lithuania takes place just four days later, so Southgate has a dilemma on his hands. While he’ll want the team to play together as much as possible, he won’t want any of his star players to be injured during the Germany tie and be unable to participate in the critical World Cup qualifying match.
Finally, the Germany and Lithuania matches come towards the end of the domestic season, a time when the pressure of competing for multiple trophies is taking its toll on even the largest of Premiership clubs. Unfortunately, that means many players who were likely to have been on Southgate’s list of potential team members have had to be excluded from his final squad.
Tottenham’s Danny Rose damaged a ligament in his knee at the end of January and is unlikely to be fit enough to play until April, while his teammate, Harry Kane, injured his ankle during their quarter final FA cup clash with Millwall last weekend.
Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson was ruled out after sustaining severe bruising to his foot last month, while fellow Reds player, Daniel Sturridge, hasn’t been attending club training sessions recently due to a virus and a subsequent hip injury. Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, meanwhile, sustained a hamstring injury in the Gunners’ FA Cup quarter-final against Lincoln City last Saturday.
The final squad announcement saw some surprising inclusions. Jake Livermore who plays in a struggling Hull side took a place amongst the midfielders, whilst the unfashionable Burnley supplied two players in Tom Heaton and Michael Keane. James Ward-Prowse found a slot in the squad, he’s progressed through the England youth sides but this call-up was a surprise. There was also a place for the evergreen Jermaine Defore, who must surely have thought that his England days were over.
Is the England v. Germany match an important warm-up fixture or an unnecessary distraction from the Three Lions’ World Cup campaign? We’d love to know what you think.