After the long break for the winter, the international circuit kicks into life again for the Nationalmannschaft, with two prestige friendlies to get their warm-up preparations for this summer’s European Championships underway. Two old and established rivals provide the opposition; on Tuesday Germany play Italy in Munich, and today they face England at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
The German capital has not been the greatest venue for Germany against England, with the visitors unbeaten over six matches stretching back to the first full international between the two sides in 1930. In fact, the last time the Nationalmannschaft beat the Three Lions at home was in 1987, when Franz Beckenbauer’s side triumphed 3-1 in Düsseldorf.
England’s last visit to Berlin in November 2008 saw John Terry snatch a 2-1 victory five minutes from time for the visitors, and the last meeting between the two sides was in November 2013 – when Per Mertesacker’s winner proved to be enough for the Mannschaft.
The German back line takes on a new look yet again, with the absence of mainstay Jérôme Boateng seeing AS Roma’s Antonio Rüdiger start in the centre of the back four alongside Mats Hummels. Liverpool’s versatile Emre Can starts at right-back with 1. FC Köln’s Jonas Hector out on the left.
Significantly, Sami Khedira is given the captain’s armband in the absence of Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The pre-match formalities sees Mesut Özil being presented with the German player of the year award, and there is a moment of silence in memory of the bombings in Belgium that took place earlier in the week. Both sets of players are wearing black armbands, marking the passing of Dutch legend Johan Cruyff.
Germany are in their new grey and khaki green Auswärtstrikot teamed with white shorts and socks, while the visitors are kitted out in familiar but slightly different bright red shirts and shorts with dark blue socks. While there is plenty of experience in the German starting eleven, England coach Roy Hodgson has picked a number of new faces including a number of players from surprise Premier League title-chasers Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
1 min. The home side get things underway.
4 min. Khedira looks to get a shot in, but his left-footed effort is turned behind by Nathaniel Clyne. The corner is sent into the England penalty area, but the whistle is blown against Thomas Müller.
7 mins. England win a corner out on the right, and there’s a decent chance for Spurs striker Harry Kane who sends the ball wide of the target.
8 mins. A teasing ball from Jordan Henderson floats across the German box, but it’s too strong for the dangerous Danny Welbeck.
12 mins. A lovely long cross-field ball from Kroos finds Hector, but the Köln man is unable to make anything of it as he tries to find a grey shirt.
13 mins. Can sends in a good cross from the right, and Gómez is beaten to it by England skipper Gary Cahill. This is a good spell for the home side, as first Hummels is denied by ‘keeper Jack Butland before Reus sends a low shot wide.
14 mins. A half-chance for Dele Alli, who heads the ball straight at Manuel Neuer.
17 mins. Khedira is dispossessed in his own half, and Alli sends a shot the flies safely over the crossbar.
20 mins. Germany have dominated the possession and created a few half-chances, but the opening twenty minutes have passed by with little incident. The young England side are looking comfortable on the ball, but they too have been unable to crack open a slightly disjointed German defence.
22 mins. Jogi Löw’s men are keeping hold of the ball well, and are looking to unlock the well-drilled England defence. The visitors for their part are chasing every ball, and closing down the men in grey at every opportunity.
25 mins. The German defence are again looking shaky, but England are unable to play the killer ball in the final third.
27 mins. Gómez has the ball in the back of the net after collecting the perfect defence-splitting pass from Kroos, but his celebration is cut shot as the linesman raises his flag. The replay however shows that he was just the right side of Clyne as the ball was played. It was a beautiful calm finish from the in-form Beşiktaş striker, and Germany can seriously consider themselves unlucky not to be in front.
30 mins. England are continuing to create space in the German half, and Kane scoops an effort over the bar.
38 mins. England pinch the ball in the midfield again, and after Welbeck’s shot is blocked Adam Lallana blasts his effort over the bar.
39 mins. Kroos is intercepted by Danny Rose and England build again. Welbeck looks to make his way inside but is fouled by Can, who is shown the first yellow card of the evening. Rose sends in the free-kick which is only half-cleared by Hector, and the energetic Rose looks to get in behind the German defence again but is unable to find a red shirt with his low cross into the box.
42 mins. Germany should be in front, but England have been on top. The only real difference between the two teams has been the visitors’ inability to make the most of their opportunities in the final third.
43 mins. Butland clears and looks to have pulled a muscle, and Germany pick the ball up in the England half. Kroos can see the the ‘keeper is not quite right, and after ambling towards the box launches a speculative left-footed effort from around twenty yards. Butland is unable to make his ground and his beaten at his near post. 1-0.
Toni Kroos celebrates after putting the Mannschaft in front just before half-time
45 mins. Germany have their lead, but this is really unfortunate for Butland. The England ‘keeper is visibly distraught, and he is stretchered off the pitch and replaced by Southampton’s Fraser Forster. Who is not related to Bernd and Karl-Heinz Förster.
45+2 mins. Germany look to have upped a gear after taking the lead, and England are left hanging on. Reus looks to find Gómez, but the ball lacks the accuracy to give the striker the chance to send in a first-time shot. Gómez does manage to have a crack at goal, but his slightly scuffed effort is blocked. The Italian referee blows for half-time.
It has been a mixed opening half for Germany, with plenty of possession mixed with a degree of frailty at the back. However had they been more clinical enough in front of goal, and could have been two goals up. Might they finally be able to break the Berlin duck?
There is one chance before the start of the second half, with Bayer Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah replacing Hummels to make his full international debut.
46 mins. England start the second half.
50 mins. Germany have started well, and are content to pass the ball around and stay patient. Then win a free-kick out on the left some thirty yards out, which is smartly delivered by Reus. Müller almost gets on the end of it, and Forster tips it behind. A short corner is taken which comes to nothing.
52 mins. England break well, and Alli forces Neuer into making his first save of the evening. The FC Bayern ‘keeper dives to his right and does well to push the ball away from the fast-advancing Welbeck.
55 mins. Another defence presents a great chance for the visitors. Can makes a meal of things at the back allowing Welbeck to get the ball back into the danger area, and Lallana’s shot is smacked straight at Hector who more by luck than judgement puts it behind for a corner which is easily collected by Neuer.
57 mins. A great goal from the home side. The men in grey work patiently down the right, and Khedira dinks the ball brilliantly into the box towards Gómez who gets in behind his markers to steer the ball into the right corner past the helpless Forster. A fantastic finish, and well deserved. 2-0.
Mario Gómez rises majestically above defender Gary Cahill to double Germany’s lead
59 mins. Hector gets behind the England defence and cuts the ball back inside for Özil, but the playmaker can only scuff his shot and Forster collects.
61 mins. England win a corner out on the left, and the German defence is unable to clear. Harry Kane picks up the ball and pulls off an excellent turn before drilling the ball low to Neuer’s right. England could have been three down, but are right back in the contest. 2-1.
64 mins. Marco Reus makes way for André Schürrle as the Nationaltrainer makes his second change of the evening.
67 mins. England win a free-kick in a great position just outside the German box, but Kane’s effort is hot straight against the wall.
69 mins. A lovely attack by England, and a fantastic interchange between Welbeck, and Lallana and Alli opens up the German defence like an tin of beans. Alli’s shot is on target, but Neuer stretches out a leg to keep it out.
71 mins. Jamie Vardy and Ross Barkley are on for England, replacing the excellent Welbeck and Lallana. Having pulled themselves back into the game the men in red have acquired a second wind here.
74 mins. A fast break by England, and they are level. Clyne bursts down the right, and his cross is met brilliantly by Vardy who scores a fantastic goal – his first at international level – with his first touch. Rüdiger looks to have his man covered, but cannot deal with the backheeled flicked finish that is truly world class. Neuer is beaten, and just like that the Berlin hoodoo looks sets to continue. 2-2.
75 mins. Thomas Müller has been largely conspicuous by his absence this evening, and is replaced by Lukas Podolski who carries on in his mission to overhaul Lothar Matthäus’s record of 150 international caps.
77 mins. Germany patiently develop another attack, but Özil can only shin a right-footed effort straight at Forster.
79 mins. The excellent Gómez departs, and is replaced by Mario Gómez.
80 mins. Can is upended by Eric Dier, who is shown the yellow card.
84 mins. That should have been 3-2 to England. Another error, this time from Khedira, sees the ball given away for the umpteenth time. Vardy’s cross back inside is perfect for Alli who is all alone in the middle of the German penalty area, but with the goal at his mercy he blazes his shot high over the bar.
88 mins. Khedira finds Schürrle in space out on the right, but the Wolfsburg man’s cross floats harmlessly across the England box and into touch.
90+1 mins. Rüdiger hacks the ball behind for a corner as England make their final attack, and the Eckball malaise strikes again. Henderson’s ball in is perfect, and Dier beats the ball-watching Schürrle to head in what is surely the winner. 2-3.
Eric Dier beats a crowd of German defenders to score the winner, sealing an astonish comeback for England
90+3 mins. The final whistle is blown.
It’s only a friendly, but this is a major blow for Jogi Löw’s plans as he looks to build towards this summer’s Euros. The attack was insipid for the most part with only the revived Mario Gómez looking really decent, and the defence was a shambles. Roy Hodgson’s side could have scored a couple of goals in the first half, but took their opportunities in the second to secure a fantastic comeback and stun the home crowd.
The Nationalmannschaft remain winless against England in Berlin, and yet more questions will be asked of the coach and his defensive tactics. This was an experienced German team against what could be described as a team of kids, but by the end of the ninety minutes it was the home side who were looking rabbits in the headlights.
v England, Olympiastadion, Berlin, 26.03.2016
Kroos 43., Gómez 57. / Kane 61., Vardy 74., Dier 90+1.
Germany: Neuer – Can, Rüdiger, Hummels (45. Tah*), Hector – Khedira (c), Kroos – Müller (75. Podolski), Özil, Reus (64. Schürrle) – Gómez (79. Götze)
England: Butland (43. Forster) – Clyne, Smalling, Cahill (c), Rose – Dier, Henderson – Lallana (71. Barkley), Alli, Welbeck (71. Vardy) – Kane
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (Italy)
Assistants: Lorenzo Manganelli (Italy), Filippo Meli (Italy)
Fourth Official: Paolo Valeri (Italy)
Yellow Cards: Can / Dier
Red Cards: – / –
Ball Possession: 63% / 37%
Attempts on Target: 2 / 6
Attempts off Target: 8 / 13
Corners: 5 / 7
Fouls Committed: 12 / 13
* International Debut