Five things we didn’t learn in England’s dour defeat to Germany

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It was meant to be an evening in which Gareth Southgate would
learn something new about his England side, but instead the 1-0
loss to Germany in Dortmund was a big, fat damp squib.

Lukas Podolski’s bullet winner midway through the second half
was completely out of keeping with the game itself, and for the
Three Lions it felt like a missed opportunity to actually move
forward as an international side under their new head coach.

There were a number of areas where Southgate will have learnt
little, and Goal can name at least
five… 

IS RASHFORD THE MAN FOR THE FUTURE?

HD Marcus Rashford England

He may well start against Lithuania in Sunday’s World Cup
qualifier at Wembley, but Marcus Rashford was given only 20
minutes to shine at Signal Iduna Park. Worse still, he was
introduced just after Podolski had hammered home the winning
goal and given Germany the opportunity to test out their
containing game with what resembled a back eight. It all
conspired to give the Manchester United youngster little of the
space in which he thrives.

Instead of Rashford it was Jamie Vardy who was given the nod up
front, and aside from his temerity to dive for a potential
penalty there was little new on show from the Leicester striker
than has already been deined about his game from previous
England outings. Yes, he might have the more experienced head
which would have been the right approach had this been a
competitive international, but the 19-year-old will probably
feel this was one opportunity he might have been afforded by
his former under-21s boss.

It is not as though Rashford could have been rusty either, with
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s domestic suspension helping to give him
more game time of late at club level. But we’re still none the
wiser as to whether he could be the right man for England
sooner rather than later.

IS THE 3-4-3 THE RIGHT FORMATION FOR
ENGLAND?

Lukas Podolski Germany Gary Cahill England

To all intents and purposes England’s back three did a
decent job in Dortmund, but in truth they were never really
tested and Southgate will be none the wiser as to whether it
might be the best formation to pit against a major nation at a
more critical juncture.

With Jogi Low opting to send out an experimental-looking
line-up, the Three Lions were asked few questions until
Podolski let rip from range with the hosts’ first shot on
target to settle the contest.

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Debutant Michael Keane looked largely composed on the right of
the trio until making an error under rare pressure late on,
Chris Smalling was rarely put under pressure in his fifth start
in a back three in the past fortnight, while skipper for the
night Gary Cahill has had few such quiet evenings even playing
for a dominant Chelsea this season.

They could try the formation again on Sunday when Lithuania
come to Wembley, but what would be the point? They are even
less likely to attack than this unrecognisable Germany.

HOW DO ENGLAND FARE AGAINST DIFFERENT
OPPOSITION?

England knocked out of Euro 2016 after losing to Iceland

Just one year on from the last time they faced Germany,
somebody thought it would be a good idea to play them again.
Did we really take anything out of that 3-2 win in Berlin and
use it against an Iceland side which took to their task in a
far more inverted, opportunistic style? Of course not.

So why not widen the pool of friendly opponents? England only
ever seem to play Germany, Italy, France, Portugal, Spain and
the Netherlands in friendly fixtures these days, and we appear
to be learning less and less about our international football
with each non-competitive match that passes by. What ever
happened to taking on other nations like Colombia or Uruguay,
Poland or the United States?

The UEFA Nations League, which kicks in in September 2018,
cannot come quick enough. While nobody seems to be able to
adequately explain how the competition works, it will at least
add a competitive element and rid us of these instantly
forgettable friendly matches. And good riddance to them.

IS DELE ALLI READY TO TAKE ENGLAND TO THE
TOP?

Dele Alli Tottenham 2017

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We’d seen Dele Alli up against Germany just 12 months ago and
discovered what he could do. Again in Dortmund he showed some
good touches, but while his performance was largely positive he
never really looked ready to take the game by the scruff on the
neck and drag England into a winning position.

In a more intense environment the Tottenham youngster
might have been better placed to really show his stuff but it
was difficult for him to show his best in the testimonial air
which surrounded Podolski’s final Germany appearance.

He’s been called the next Wayne Rooney and the most gifted
England player since Paul Gascoigne, but whatever his future
holds at this level this will not be a match which will feature
on his highlight reel.

DO ENGLAND FANS HAVE ANY SENSE OF DECORUM?

England fans in Lille with police presence

On a day which saw a terrorist attack claim a number of lives
in the heart of London, England’s football fans did little to
court international sympathy. Spending much of the match
chanting “Have you ever seen the Germans win a war” and sing
about “10 German bombers”, the followers of the Three Lions
again showed how low they can stoop when representing their
nation abroad. At the very moment tributes and messages of
solidarity continued to pour in from across the globe, England
supporters were busy booing and whistling through the German
national anthem.

The England supporters’ band often does much to help raise the
atmosphere at fixtures, but while they didn’t beat to the tune
of some of the more questionable tomes emanating from the
visitors’ section, neither did they attempt to drown out the
vitriol. What will it take for authorities to start doing
something about the vile approach to what is supposed to be
backing a team of footballers?

Whether a majority or minority – and the noise level of the
songs suggested it was the former – England fans need to
display a sense of decorum at any time, but particularly on
days like this one.

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