England v Germany - not so friendly

FRIENDLIES are often labelled as pointless, boring exercises that turn out to be worthless, pathetic training matches.

This game could not have been further from that statement.

Remember, this was Germany versus England.

Two countries with such a great historic background, such a massive rivalry that it was never going to be a flat, boring match.

England were out for revenge after the 2-1 defeat last August against the Germans at Wembley Stadium, instead looking to revive golden memories of that fantastic night in Munich in 2001.

Of course, that wonderful night saw an England team crush the Germans 5-1 in their own back yard.

Yet the record for Germany is different when it comes to playing in the capital, Berlin.

Unbeaten there since 1973, this really was a significant challenge for England to overcome, one I really couldn’t call.

Would we be able to take a result?

Of course, neither side were full strength.

England were missing the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney whilst the Germans suffered the loss of influential midfielder and captain Michael Ballack.

Yet this could well have been a blessing in disguise for Mr Capello and his men.

It allowed new blood, as well as forgotten faces, the opportunity to shine and really give the manager a headache.

Players such as Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ashley Young, Matthew Upson and Stewart Downing were given the opportunity to start in Berlin, and how they took their chance.

Agbonlahor gave an all-round impressive performance, whilst Matthew Upson added to a quality performance with his first England goal.

For me, I feel the game was extremely beneficial for players like these who otherwise would be limited to bit-part appearances had it not been for the extensive injury list.

For a supposed “friendly”, the game was played at a frantic pace that delivered some good football.

England kept the ball well, and it pleased me to see the side looking to bring the pace of the Premiership onto the international scene.

For so many years this has been England’s downfall.

We have consistently dropped the pace to play at the opposition’s continental slow style, instead of maintaining the rapid speed game that the Premiership is famed for.

If we did this, I am sure we would be one of the top sides in the world.

The passing game that we played was superb, a real change and joy to watch.

This was a different England, one that seemed more confident and less predictable, a team that was willing to go forward passing the ball rather than the long ball game so prominent in the last few years.

For all the impressive performances, I feel I must point out the poor ones.

Scott Carson, what on earth was Terry and himself doing?

To be fair to the goalkeeper, I would not jump on the bandwagon by saying it was entirely his fault, this being due to the fact that Terry’s defending was the type you would see on a school playground.

Though seeing as they are both professional footballers, this was a inexcusable mistake.

Terry should have dealt with the ball when seeing Carson’s hesitation, whereas the keeper himself should have been more commanding when collecting what was really a simple ball.

Yet it’s not just Scott Carson who should receive criticism.

Darren Bent is just not an England international.

He reminds me of Andy Cole back in his heyday, brilliant when on form but as soon as it comes to the international stage he just does not fit the bill.

His touches were poor, and finishing not that of an international player, especially when having beat the keeper just before the Germans equaliser.

One player who stood out in particular was Shaun Wright-Phillips.

The Manchester City star was simply magnificent, and really impressed me with his speed, flair and eye for goal.

We all know these are the typical traits of Wright-Phillips, but he seemed to relish the opportunity of taking advantage of Theo Walcott’s absence on the right flank.

Such a great game deserved a goal for the city wizard, and he was unlucky when 25 yard drive crashed off the right post.

It all comes down to one thing, where will England go from here?

No doubt the hype will continue to build, as it always does, but the nation must stay realistic.

We are not a world beating team, and the players have begun to realise that hyping themselves up has been a major factor in the pressure placed on them.

No doubt the quality of the performance’s of late have improved, but the real judgement of Capello’s success will ultimately come in the next major tournament, World Cup 2010.

Currently being in prime position to qualify is a great achievement by Capello’s men, but they can ill afford to let complacency set in.

All the same, any win over Germany is welcomed and one to be cherished.

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