England Stage Epic Comeback in Berlin

England managed to come up with an impressive performance to beat world champions Germany at the Olympiastadion on Saturday. With captain and leading goal scorer Wayne Rooney out with injury, the new look Three Lions thrived from the first whistle to the last, merging together to seal the victory.
The first half began with England looking to get on the front foot, trying to get a feel into the game. The visitors had the first real chance to open the scoring, a corner swung in by Jordan Henderson, with skipper Gary Cahill meeting it with his head. His attempt went wide, with Spurs striker Harry Kane diverting over the bar. Seven minutes after this, the hosts came forward, looking menacing on the attack. After a smart save by Jack Butland, Borussia Dortmund midfielder Marco Reus dragged his shot wide. With just over fifteen minutes played in the German capital, Chris Smalling’s superb pass forward found playmaker Dele Alli, who softly headed the ball down into the hands of Manuel Neuer. Alli should have realised how much time he had on the ball, wasting a good chance.

Halfway through the first 45 minutes, Germany’s striker Mario Gomez looked as if he had got his side off the mark with a calm finish, but was flagged wrongly offside by the linesman. Germany’s midfield maestro Toni Kroos seemed to be in a battle with his opposite midfielder Alli in the centre of the park. Many tackles went flying from all angles, but most of them fair. However, Kroos picked the ball up just inside England’s half, with acres of space for him to run into. The Galactico fired a low driven shot with his left foot from distance, that beat Butland on his near post. It would appear that the Stoke City number one injured himself prior to the goal, gesturing to the bench after a poor kick forward that invited the midfielder to push forward. It was a shot that he would have been expected to save, with Germany’s number 18 sensing that the keeper was hampered with an injury. Butland was subbed off on the 45th minute to be replaced by Southampton’s Fraser Forster. Half-time then followed, with England feeling as though they should not be losing the game. They had a number of chances that merited a promising first half, with Alli at the centre stage.

Roy Hodgson’s side continued to pressurise the German players without the ball, causing all sorts of problems for the world champions. Again, Alli was at the heart of the play, driving forward to the edge of the box, shooting across goal, making Neuer produce a save. Ten minutes into the second half and Liverpool’s Emre Can was pressured by Arsenal forward Danny Welbeck, who pulled it back for Henderson to shoot. His placed effort was on target, but only to be blocked by Germany left-back Jonas Hector. The saying in football where you have to take your chances was proven two minutes later. Sami Khedira’s excellently placed pass bamboozles England’s defence, with Mario Gomez rising highest to head past the frozen Forster. England still looked like there was something for the taking in this game, but they needed an instant response to get back into it. On the hour mark, an in swinging corner from the left was not dealt with well by the German players, and the ball fell to Kane in the box, who produced a magnificent piece of skill to deceive club rival Mesut Oezil, and fired a well drilled shot through the legs of Can, out of the reach of Neuer.  

With just over twenty minutes to play, England piled forward again, with brilliant creative passing. Alli started the move off on the left touchline, with Kane, Welbeck and Adam Lallana all involved. The 19 year-old nearly found an equaliser at the end of this wonderful move, only the boot of the Bayern Munich keeper stopping him. Substitues then followed for the visitors, with Leicester City star Jamie Vardy coming on for Welbeck, and midfielder Ross Barkley for Lallana. Having just been on the pitch for three minutes, Vardy darted into the box and received a low cross from right-back Nathaniel Clyne. The forward managed to flick the ball with his heel with such technique, firing past a stunned Neuer. Vardy became the first Leicester player since Gary Lineker in 1985 to score for England, surely deserving of a place in France. England began to run at Germany with pace, with Vardy and Barkley inspiring this. Henderson’s curving shot swerved just past the goal, and the impact of Vardy again was shown following a short goal kick, reaching the ball before Can. He put the ball on a plate for Alli to score, but the Tottenham teenager blazed his shot somehow over the bar from nine yards out. Approaching injury time, England may have felt the chance was gone to win the game. They approached the German box again and won a corner, which Henderson swung in, this time towards the near post. At the near post, up leaped an unmarked Eric Dier, who thumped a header past Neuer at his near post. Roy Hodgson celebrated on the touchline, while his fellow manager Joachim Low sat looking as still as a statue, arms folded.  

This game shows the strength in depth that this England squad has to offer, with Hodgson having plenty of options at his disposal. Surely both Kane and Vardy deserve a place in the 23-man squad for the Euros? I don’t just think this, but both forwards even starting for England in the summer. 

Alli was immaculate in the centre of midfield, and yet still so young, even he should be considered for a role in the starting eleven, let alone a place in the squad. Hodgson finally has a numerous amount of players to choose from, that posses real quality, which has not always been the case back in the days of Fabio Capello, etc. England should take great confidence and pride from this result, albeit a friendly, but these types of teams will be what they are up against in France, so it is seen as more ‘competitive’ than the so called competitive fixtures during the qualifying stages. With four games to go before the Russia game in Marseille on the 11th of June, England should be thriving after a result like this. The real question is, can England do something spectacular in France? They’ve just beaten the world champions, who is going to doubt them now?  

Written by Joe Dutton

Sources: Sky Sports and Euro Sport

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