A friendly, but one of those friendlies. One more match to add to the long list of Germany versus England matches, and arguably not exactly a classic. But for one man, the evening would turn into a glorious farewell. The evening had begun with a rousing welcome from the Dortmund crowd and a speech from Lukas Podolski. It ended with more loud cheers, the evening crowned by one last blockbuster from that famous left foot.
In a game where an effervescent England team threatened to spoil the party, Germany would get the right result, ensuring not only a happy send-off for Podolski but also an end to a long winless streak at home against the Three Lions.
Facts and Stats
In the lead up to the game, it was all about Podolski. After making his debut as a raw teenager in Rudi Völler’s team in 2004, this would be his 130th and final match in the Nationaltrikot. As well as marking the end of the career of one of Germany’s most popular players, it would also signal the closing of the book on the 2006 golden generation and the team that had starred in the 2006 World Cup, the tournament that had signalled the beginning of the great German footballing revival. Appropriately, he was given the captain’s armband.
In finishing on 130 caps, Podolski sits third in the all-time appearances list, behind Lothar Matthäus and former team-mate Miroslav Klose. In scoring his 49th goal, he finished as the Mannschaft’s third-highest goalscorer of all time, behind Klose and Gerd Müller.
Elsewhere on the leading appearances list, Toni Kroos would join the exclusive club of players who have made seventy-five or more appearances in the famous Schwarz und Weiß. At the other end of the scale, twenty-one year old RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner would become the 87th debutant of the Jogi Löw era.
This was Germany’s thirty-fifth meeting against England – their thirty-first if you choose to ignore the four amateur fixtures played before 1930. Of the thirty-one matches played since the 3-3 draw in Berlin in 1930, Germany have now won fifteen and England thirteen, with three draws. This game would come almost a year after the last meeting between the two teams in Berlin, where the home side had stormed into a two-goal lead only to throw it all away in the second half – maintaining a winless drought lasting almost three decades.
Until the 1-0 win at the
Signal Iduna Park Westfalenstadion, no German team had beaten England at home since Franz Beckenbauer’s side in September 1987. On that evening in Düsseldorf, the Mannschaft had emerged 3-1 winners with goals from Pierre Littbarski (2) and Wolfram Wuttke. On that day, only one of the current German starting eleven had even been born: Podolski, who would have been just two years old at the time.
In what was a largely experimental German team, the coach would have the chance to tinker with both lineups and formations. The absence of the injured Manuel Neuer meant that Barcelona’s Marc-André ter Stegen would start in goal, and AS Roma’s Antonio Rüdiger also returned from injury to start in the centre of defence alongside Mats Hummels. Out on the flanks, Joshua Kimmich and Jonas Hector completed a solid-looking Viererkette. Dortmund youngster Julian Weigl started in the defensive midfield alongside Kroos, sitting behind a offensive unit comprised of farewell kid Podolski and youngsters Julian Brandt and Leroy Sané – all sitting behind new boy Werner.
As a spectacle, there was not much to write home about. Gareth Southgate’s England started off the brighter and more energetic of the two teams, and pretty much maintained their tempo through to the end. In a first half with few clear-cut opportunities, it was the visitors who would come closest to opening the scoring. Jamie Vardy looked to have been caught by ter Stegen only to then take an outrageous dive, and Adam Lallana then hit the base of the post after a strong run down the left.
While England were playing a robust pressing strategy, Jogi Löw’s men were struggling to find their feet and play their usual calm passing game. Although Joe Hart in the England goal was never threatened during the opening forty-five minutes, the Mannschaft would have a decent shout for a penalty when Brandt’s ball into the box was seemingly blocked with his arms by England captain Gary Cahill.
The second half would see a marked improvement from the hosts. England continued to threaten, but for all their energy were poor in the final third. The energy in the middle of the field was not matched by the men further up the pitch, and German ‘keeper ter Stegen would have a fairly quiet second half. Meanwhile, the German team had been able to up their game, with the hard-working André Schürrle making a major difference after coming on for the slightly disappointing Brandt.
The magic moment would come in the sixty-ninth minute, when an excellent series of exchanges in the middle of the pitch saw Podolski collect Schürrle’s pass some thirty yards out. After controlling the ball nicely, Podolski would put the icing on his own farewell cake with a left-foot thunderbolt. It was the perfect and almost scripted final stamp on a memorable international career. Hart had no chance, the net bulged, and the crowd roared.
As the game started to open up Leroy Sané would engineer a few half chances and force Hart into a good low save, but as the game meandered to a close with a slew of substitutions from both coaches, it was all about the man known as “Poldi”.
Conclusions and Ratings
Marc-André ter Stegen
Probably escaped giving away a penalty when Vardy took his theatrical tumble, and was beaten by Lallana but saved by the post. Other than that a solid display where he was able to get behind everything fired at him. Had to be alert in the first half, but was able to relax more in the second.
Not the best game for the FC Bayern right-back, who was often caught out of position and guilty of some sloppy passing. Was beaten for pace by Lallana which almost resulted in an England goal. Not as effective going forward as he might have been, but like everybody else he was largely stifled by the opposition’s pressing tactics.
A slightly shaky start from the FC Bayern central defender, but overall a solid and composed display. Won most of his one on one duels, and always kept a calm head.
Probably the best of the back four, and a far more composed showing than in previous outings in the Nationaltrikot. The AS Roma man was dominant in the air, and showed excellent positional sense as helped close the door on the England attack.
A poor game for the left-back, who was not his usual self going forward and slightly shaky under pressure. Struggled against the pace and movement of the opposition, and allowed opponents to get away from him far too often.
Looked far from his best in the “double six” position, and it might have been worthwhile tinkering little with the formation. Made a few sloppy passes, but was by no means the only guilty party. Was replaced by Emre Can after 66 minutes.
Unable to find his form at the beginning, and this showed with the German team being unable to play their usual game early on. Was able to put his foot down a little more in the second half as he started ti find his range, but overall this wasn’t the best outing for the Real Madrid man.
Guilty of trying to hard to do too much early on, Sané was unable to create anything of note. Was able to find more space as the game went on, and was involved in a few good moves towards the end of the game.
Tried his heart out from the start in his last game, and was probably guilty of trying a little too hard. There were a couple of badly-hit left-footed previews in the first half, but when the goal finally came it was an absolute Hammer. Was replaced by Sebastian Rudy with six minutes left, and received a standing ovation.
A disappointing show from the Leverkusen youngster, who showed signs of his great promise without really delivering. Was replaced a minute before the hour by André Schürrle.
Making his full international debut, the RB Leipzig youngster was never really able to get into the game. Received little service, and when he was given the ball he was quickly put under pressure. He will sure have better games in the Nationaltrikot. Was replaced by Thomas Müller with thirteen minutes remaining.
Replaced Brandt after fifty-nine minutes, and added a little more bite in the middle of the pitch. Was more willing to help out at the back, but was unable to add much going forward.
Replaced Weigl six minutes past the hour, and was solid enough without being spectacular. No mistakes, but no great positives either.
Replaced Werner for the final quarter of an hour, and had little impact on proceedings. By that time, Germany were in front and looking to wind things down.
Came on with six minutes left to give Podolski his final send off. Didn’t have a chance to get into the game during his short time on the pitch.
ter Stegen (3), Kimmich (4), Rüdiger (3), Hummels (4), Hector (3), Weigl (4), Kroos (4), Brandt (4), Podolski (1), Sané (4), Werner (5). Substitutes (until 60 minutes): Schürrle (3)
ter Stegen (2), Kimmich (5), Rüdiger (3), Hummels (3), Hector (4), Weigl (4), Kroos (4), Brandt (4), Podolski (2), Sané (4.5), Werner (4). Substitutes (until 60 minutes): Schürrle (2.5)
ter Stegen (2), Kimmich (5), Rüdiger (3), Hummels (3), Hector (3.5), Weigl (4), Kroos (4), Brandt (4), Podolski (2), Sané (3.5), Werner (5). Substitutes (until 60 minutes): Schürrle (3)