England vs Germany: Just how far have England come since the 4-1 defeat in the World Cup three years ago?

In 2010, Germany thrashed Steven Gerrard’s side 4-1 but captain is confident this team is stronger with a good balance of age and youth

Three years and four months later it is the Germans again, and the test that will tell the England team much about where it stands in the world ahead of Brazil 2014 next summer.

These days, the Germany side do not represent that same kind of character examination they did for, say, the 1990s generation of England footballers when the story was more about German nerves of steel in tournaments and penalty shoot-outs – although there is an element of that. The challenge of the modern Germany team is more complex now, about a successful football nation which has risen to the challenge of reinventing itself even more successfully.

 

Follow the latest news and score from England v Germany live by CLICKING HERE.

 

Even without Mesut Özil, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Manuel Neuer in Joachim Löw’s side tonight, England will still have to confront many of the leading characters in the great cavalcade of German talent produced in the last five years, Mario Götze, Marco Reus and Toni Kroos among them. These are players who have emerged on the international stage since the 4-1 defeat in Bloemfontein in the second round of the 2010 World Cup, the last meeting between the two sides.

When asked about that fateful day, Steven Gerrard, who was captain on the occasion of England’s heaviest competitive defeat since 1980, and will be captain again tonight, said he would not envisage losing by the same margin as the side of 2010 did. “I’d say we are better,” he said.

“The reason I feel that is if we were to meet Germany tomorrow in a World Cup situation I don’t think we’d leave the pitch having been beaten 4-1. I do feel we are a lot stronger. There is a good mix of youth and experience in the squad at the moment. We are all moving forward and improving all the time.

“I look back to the Chile result on Friday and I come away from that game feeling different from a lot of people. I’m really confident that if we were to meet Chile further on into a World Cup competition we would have the players at full strength to go and beat them.”

Certainly, the team of 2010 was much older, including as it did a goalkeeper, David James, two months shy of his 40th birthday, and only two players – James Milner and Wayne Rooney – under the age of 25. The average age of the team of 2010 was 29 years and three months whereas the side Roy Hodgson has named for tonight’s game averages 26 years and nine months.

Gerrard, Rooney and Ashley Cole are the survivors from that XI in Bloemfontein who will feature at Wembley tonight. Between the 5-1 win in Munich in 2001, in which Gerrard scored his first international goal, to the defeat in South Africa, the two countries played each other twice. On both occasions the teams have been weakened by injuries, reflected in the fact that the two games – Wembley in 2007 and Berlin in 2008 – were lost by the home sides.

Germany’s reinvention of its youth development system post-Euro 2000 is a story that has been told many times and no doubt if England are outplayed tonight there will be a further outbreak of derision at English football’s failure to reform. But for Hodgson and Gerrard, who are obliged to take a shorter-term view, there is not the same sense of despair.

Gerrard acknowledged that, even at Wembley, England go into tonight’s game as the lesser-fancied side – but not by much. “If you look at how they’ve performed in recent tournaments and where they’re ranked, then maybe we are slight underdogs,” he said. “But if you look at both squads and both starting XIs I wouldn’t say we’re huge underdogs, no. Maybe slight.”

With the current vogue for German football – its player development policies, its club sides, even its policy towards ticket prices – a heavy defeat on this, the showpiece game of the Football Association’s 150th anniversary celebrations, could set off another bout of English introspection. Hodgson, having experimented with his team against Chile, clearly felt he was left with no option but to play close to his strongest side tonight.

Of course, German football is not perfect either. Bayern Munich won the title by 25 points last season, bought second-place Borussia Dortmund’s best player and are undefeated in 12 games in this campaign, a record that suggests a degree of inequality compared to the Premier League. As for English football, it is already more than a year into its own major shake-up of youth development – the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) – by which future national teams will either prosper or not.

For better or worse, EPPP was conceived of, in the main, by the Premier League and effectively imposed on the rest of the Football League, albeit with the support of the FA. German football, as we are constantly told, works differently – in a manner that would be impossible in the English game where the big clubs dominate. It would be wrong to judge Hodgson’s team tonight purely on one result, but that is certain to be the case in some quarters.

England have not lost consecutive games at Wembley since the summer of 1977 when Don Revie’s side were beaten by Wales and Scotland in the space of five days. For Hodgson there is the old bind of trying to prepare for a World Cup finals, and make the most of limited game time, while remaining competitive against a formidable opponent.

Against Chile he had to take the chance to try new players and yesterday was not impressed by the prospect of too much being read into a second defeat. “It [a defeat] won’t stop us winning our first game of the World Cup, will it? I’m not trying to be clever – I don’t see the relevance,” he said. “I can’t give guarantees that we definitely will put the result of Friday right because Germany are a very good team. But I expect us to be much wiser after this game.”

He is still unbeaten in 14 competitive games, excluding the Euro 2012 elimination on penalties to Italy. Time is limited and he is doing his best to try out his options. But tonight his team faces Germany, and Hodgson is well aware that games against this old rival tend to evoke strong feelings in the English football public – not least about their own team.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicHunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original  manuscripts
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
lifeAiming to show breasts in a non-sexual way for cancer awareness
New Articles
i100... while following the referendum
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
Arts and Entertainment
tvBut something’s not quite right
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week