Germany v England | Saturday 26 March | Olympiastadion Berlin | 21:45
World champions Germany will play host to England in an international friendly match on Saturday as both teams continue preparations for the upcoming Euro 2016. The Germans have won their previous two meetings against the Three Lions. Joachim Low's side won 4-1 in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and 1-0 in a friendly match three years later.
To Win Match
Germany 6/10 | Draw 28/10 | England 9/2
Germany have arguably looked devoid of some of the killer instinct that proved vital in Brazil, and they only gained automatic progression into Euro 2016 by the skin of their teeth. A late defeat to the Republic of Ireland meant that the Germans had to beat Georgia in their final game, which they did eventually do by grinding out a 2-1 victory in Leipzig.
In their previous friendly, they were beaten 2-0 by Euro 2016 hosts France, courtesy of goals from Olivier Giroud and Andre-Pierre Gignac. The Germans have failed to record a clean sheet in their last four games which is simply not good enough for their standards. A number of players will know that they will need to impress in order to reassert their place in the Germany side.
Low has an enviable wealth of talent at his disposal. Schweinsteiger, Ozil, Gotze, Muller, Reus… the names just roll off the tongue. Bayern Munich shot-stopper Manuel Neuer remains the world's best goalkeeper. He has been described as a "sweeper-keeper" because of his unique playing style and speed when rushing off his line; he is also known for his quick reflexes, excellent shot-stopping abilities, command of his area and accurate control and distribution of the ball. Despite Neuer’s qualities in goal, Germany have looked shaky in defence since Philipp Lahm and Per Mertesacker retired from international football. Low has made many changes to the back four as he searches for his best combination. Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels is Germany’s best defender and he’ll most likely be partnered by Antonio Rudiger, while Jonas Hector and Matthias Ginter occupy the fullback positions.
Captain Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos will sit in front of the back four, while Marco Reus, Mario Gotze and Mesut Ozil will look to wreak havoc on the England backline. Ozil has arguably been the best playmaker in the English Premier League with Arsenal this season, recording 19 assists in all competitions. The English know all about him. Thomas Müller will spearhead the attack and look to add to his 31-goal tally for the national side. The Bayern Munich forward has been in scintillating form, scoring 19 goals with five assists in the Bundesliga this season.
England were the only team to enjoy a 100% record in the Euro 2016 Qualifiers. They scored 31 goals while conceding just three times from 10 games played. Roy Hodgson’s men were outclassed as soon as they faced quality opposition in Spain in a friendly match. The Three Lions were beaten 2-0 thanks to second-half goals from Mario Gaspar and Santi Cazorla.
England bounced back with a 2-0 victory over France in an international friendly overshadowed by the terrorist attacks in Paris just four days prior. Friendlies against Germany and Netherlands will be the final audition before Hodgson selects his 23-man party for Euro 2016 in France this summer. The world champions will present England with a tremendous challenge in Berlin and Hodgson will be hoping his players show their worth.
After several years with very little depth to speak of, England have suddenly got a very strong goalkeeping unit. Manchester City's Joe Hart has pulled out the squad after suffering an injury in last weekend’s Manchester Derby. Burnley’s Tom Heaton has been called up to replace Hart, but Hodgson will decide from Southampton's Fraser Forster and Stoke's Jack Butland. In defence, Hodgson will choose a centre back partnership from Chris Smalling, Gary Cahill and Everton’s Phil Jagielka and John Stones, while Ryan Bertrand should start at left back in place of Danny Rose with either Kyle Walker or Nathaniel Clyne on the right side.
There's an exciting array of talent as well as emerging gems for Hodgson to consider in midfield. Leicester's Danny Drinkwater has been called up to the squad for the first time after what he's done for the Foxes this season. The 26-year-old will add some bite to England's midfield, while the likes of Adam Lallana, Dele Alli and Ross Barkley join the attack. With Wayne Rooney absent with injury, this will represent an opportunity for Hodgson to assess the respective qualities of five frontmen — Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge and Arsenal duo Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck. Kane is an automatic pick these days, and Vardy should partner him given the kind of form he's shown in the Premier League for Leicester.
Verdict: Germany Win + Both Teams To Score (26/10)
Germany have a good record against England and with the likes of Reus, Gotze, Ozil and Muller, the world champions should prove too strong. However, Hodgson’s side have enough quality to get a goal against a backline that have conceded in their last four games. I’m backing Germany to Win + Both Teams To Score at 26/10.