England v Germany : Match Preview
England's rivalry with Germany has always been a one-sided affair, with Die Mannschaft more concerned with their clashes against the Netherlands than the remote island country still using old war jokes to provide context to their meetings.
With Joachim Low announcing that he will rest key players ahead of their latest clash on Tuesday November 19, per Simon Mullock of The Daily Mirror, Roy Hodgson's team look to have been effectively relegated to the level of international minnows versus one of the 2014 World Cup's true contenders.
Mesut Ozil, Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer will not feature for Germany at Wembley, opening the door for a number of talented understudies from the Bundesliga to make their name on the international stage.
Of course, England can only beat what is put up against them, and Steven Gerrard is set to play through the pain in order to captain the Three Lions, according to The Daily Mirror's Martin Lipton, for what remains a derby of sorts, at least for the country on the other side of the Channel from mainland Europe.
This shuffling of the pack by Low will make for a number of interesting tactical battles, as Germany's lesser-played stars attempt to play their way into contention for Brazil while England's internationals seek to boost their morale and momentum after a shocking 2-0 defeat to Chile.
Below is a rundown of the three key battles along with a scoreline prediction and short preview.
Daniel Strurridge vs. Mats Hummels
The Liverpool striker returns to the England fold after missing out on facing Chile through injury.
Not only is the former Manchester City prodigy one-half of the Premier League's hottest strike force at present, but he's also an important player for his country, having emerged to lead the line with distinction since his move to Merseyside.
When he isn't attacking the box himself to score goals, he can be found creating space for others with his runs from out wide and movement around the opposition's penalty area.
It'll be up to Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels to keep a check on Sturridge, with Per Mertesacker lacking the mobility to cope with the striker one-on-one.
Hummels is by no means a speedster but is far more agile than the towering Arsenal centre-back, and it will be his job to track the Liverpool striker's movements as well as remaining wise to the gaps that could open up should he be displaced by marking the Englishman.
Phil Jagielka vs. Thomas Muller
At the other end of the pitch, Jagielka will face the perplexing dilemma of preventing Thomas Muller from dismantling England with his uncanny ability to find space at will.
The Bayern Munich forward may not be quick, strong or exceptionally technical—at least not in comparison with the other footballers he plays with week-in, week-out in Bavaria—but he is the best in the world at what he does, which is killing teams by stealth.
Jagielka is having an excellent season with Everton, but Muller will be a very different test from anything he has faced in the Premier League this year.
With Mario Gotze, Julian Draxler and Marco Reus all set to line up behind Bayern's attacking apparition too, it may not be his knack for scoring goals that wins the day for Germany but his capacity to drag opponents out of shape for others to take advantage.
Andros Townsend vs. Marcell Jansen
After stunning Montenegro by breaking the deadlock on his England debut, Andros Townsend has come in for some criticism over his club form of late.
The Tottenham Hotspur winger's overeagerness to take the ball on and attempt to score goals by himself has played its part in stagnating Andre Villas-Boas' team's disjointed attacking play.
His ultra-direct approach has looked rather incompatible when blended with the natural instincts of Spurs' more cultured summer arrivals from the continent such as Christian Eriksen.
A goal against Germany would once again boost Townsend onto the back pages of the English football press and prove that he has what it takes to punish the major powers in the international game.
Yet his determination to find the net could well exacerbate the negative byproducts of his approach as well as England's general inability to hold onto the ball for an extended period of time.
Marcell Jansen is set to be his opponent down the flanks at Wembley, and the Hamburg full-back looks to be the ideal man to not only snuff out Townsend but to take advantage of his style of play.
Well regarded in the German Bundesliga for his passing accuracy, versatility (he can also play as a striker) and—measuring 6'3" in height—physical presence, Jansen could well a one-man source of counter-attacks for Die Mannschaft.
If Townsend is to play the hero again at Wembley, he needs to make sure his impetuous nature is an asset and not a weakness for Hodgson's side.
England 2-2 Germany
Having rested his most important players, the outcome of the game could hinge largely on how much Low wants to beat England.
The hosts will no doubt be going all-out to defeat the visitors in the most spectacular manner possible, and should the German manager decide the fight isn't worth the hassle in the second half, he may make more experimental changes, gifting England the opportunity to dominate.
Since it's England vs. Germany, a few cliches have to be allowed, and this is likely to be a game of two halves.
Germany will win the first, before a late comeback by England against a rotated second-half opposition will square the scoreline for a draw.
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