Sunday, 27 June 2010
The Golden Generation In The Last Chance Saloon
It's something of a worry to think of the likes of Cashley Cole, John Terry and Steven Gerrard being in any form of saloon - the odds are that somebody will end up under a table, probably with a broken nose - but today the excuses run out. Entire careers, money apart, have pointed towards this game. A young German side are flexing their muscles for the very first time in the World Cup; but England are packed with gnarled old gun slingers with a point to prove.
How good is this German team? The answer to that is that they thumped a very average Australia team reduced to 10 men, lost to a poor Serbia team when a man short themselves, and only just came out on top against Ghana thanks to a wonder goal from Oezil. Take away the Australia match and people would be saying this was an ordinary team, and even against the geriatric roos, they could have found themselves a goal behind. The truth is, Germany played well in that first match but against truly poor opposition, and were helped hugely by that sending off of Cahill, far and away Australia's best player.
Let's not forget that we won in Germany with a virtual reserve team not so very long ago. The England team that day read:
James (Carson 46), Johnson, Terry, Upson, Bridge, Wright-Phillips (Crouch 90), Carrick, Barry, Downing, Defoe (Bent 46), Agbonlahor (Young 77).
Now that is virtually our defence today, but the German goal was courtesy of yet another Carson cock up when he failed to kick clear a long ball over the top. Terry showed his captaincy qualities by taking the blame, but everybody knew that Carson was at fault. No Gerrard, no Lampard, no Ashley Cole, no Rooney. Some, of course will say that was the key to victory! England's unused subs that day read like a who's who of "Who?" at international level: Robinson, Lescott, Richards, Mancienne, Davies, Parker, Bullard.
The German's too are much changed of course. The side they fielded read:
Adler (Wiese 46), Friedrich (Tasci 68), Mertesacker, Westermann, Compper (Schafer 77), Schweinsteiger, Rolfes, Jones (Marin 46), Trochowski, Gomez (Podolski 57), Klose (Helmes 46). Subs Not Used: Hinkel, Hitzlsperger, Weis.
Of that lot, only Mertesacker, Schweinsteiger, Klose, Trochowski and Podolski survive!
So what is the point? Well I would expect a German second string to be better than an England second string. Our complaint is always about our lack of strength in depth. It would appear that the opposite is true , however. The truth is, you don't have to be THAT good to make it into this German side, because the alternatives are not great. Yes they blended and fired against Australia, but so what? Australia, Ghana and Serbia do not possess players of the quality of Terry, Ashley Cole, Lampard, Gerrard and Rooney.
What is the key to victory? Worryingly, for us to start strongly. England need to impose themselves on these young Germans from the start. We need to sow the seed of doubt in their minds early. Get the ball to Milner or Cole wide on the flanks and whip in an early cross. Give Rooney the opportunity to outskin the German centre backs early. Make the point to Lahm that he is there to protect his own goal, not to threaten ours. I genuinely believe that, on paper we are the better side, a two or three goal margin would not hugely surprise me.
Yes the Germans have some good players but would Ozil replace Gerrard in the Liverpool team? Not a chance. Would Schweinsteiger elbow Lampard to one side in the Chelsea team? Ballack couldn't! Would Klose be picked ahead of Rooney by Ferguson? Not a chance!
What are our weak links? Johnson looked laboured in the last game, which surprised me. Upson is a worry. Defoe might go missing. But we haven't really performed so far. If Rooney steps up to the plate, we will be transformed as a side. Strangely, I don't feel nervous. I think we are the better team and I believe we are going to show it!
Posted by Hammersfan at 10:32