How England’s attacking talents can hurt Germany | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 24.03.2016
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How England’s attacking talents can hurt Germany

The World champions will undoubtedly fancy their chances against Roy Hodgson’s England side but that’s not to suggest some new, attacking talents can’t hurt a German defense that still hasn’t proven itself.

Germany go in to Saturday's friendly match with England at the Olympiastadion in Berlin as strong favorites for the tie, but there is plenty of reason for Joachim Löw's side to fear, or at least respect the team they're likely to face.

Although Roy Hodgson's team stumbled at the first hurdle in the 2014 World Cup there are a number of young, exciting players that could cause problems to a German side still performing far from the heights they reached in Brazil almost two years ago.

As many suspected and the English newspaper “Daily Mirror” reported, Hodgson is likely to play a relatively untested side of attacking talents that have lit up the English Premier League this season.

Germany's struggles against tall forwards

The main threat will be Tottenham Hotspur's towering striker, Harry Kane. Although Bundesliga fans didn't get to see much of the English forward in Spurs' Europa League clash against Borussia Dortmund, he has scored 21 goals in just 31 Premier League games this season.

Although it's hard to equate Kane to any striker Germany have come up against in the past 12 months, there's no denying that Löw's new-look defense has struggled against tall, powerful forwards.

Robert Lewandowski was a constant thorn in Germany's side whenever Poland came up in the qualifying campaign and Scotland also enjoyed measured success by playing Steven Fletcher - another target man - in both ties against the World champions. Similarly, in the recent friendly against France, we saw both Olivier Giroud and Andre-Pierre Gignac get the better of Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng.

If reports in the English media are to be believed, we're also likely to see Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge play alongside Kane on either wing in Hodgson's side.

There's no doubt that the main problem area for Löw's side going in to this summer's European Championships are both full-back positions. The World Cup-winning coach was able to keep things ticking over with Benedikt Höwedes at left-back and Philipp Lahm on the right in Brazil, but the former is currently out injured and the latter has since retired.

Instead we're likely to see Borussia Dortmund's Matthias Ginter and Cologne left-back Jonas Hector take up the call, with very few alternatives available to the German coach.

Fußball Manchester United gegen Leicester City Barclays Premier League

Jamie Vardy has been the star of the Premier League this season

England has pace to burn

Vardy and Sturridge are proven players in their own right but where they may specifically trouble Germany is with their pace. Neither Hector nor Ginter offer much in terms of acceleration or speed - lacking attributes that were made abundantly clear during the qualification process.

Scotland came close to offering the first shock to Germany's campaign when Ikechi Anya routinely broke behind the German defense in the 2-1 victory in September 2014. The pacey winger had little trouble running in collecting a goal form a quick counter-attack down Germany's right flank.

Then came the 2-0 defeat to Poland, in which Polish coach Adam Nawalka took full advantage of Germany's slow defense with quick left-winger Maciej Rybus and wide-forward Arkadiusz Milik. The following year Ireland grabbed an all-important win over the World champions through a route-one punt up the pitch to forward Shane Long, who then used his pace to break away from the German back-line and grab a late winner.

Not only has Germany's defense been worryingly porous, but it has also looked notably susceptible to quick counter attacks that focus on getting the ball to forwards who can accelerate with pace. That's what England has and is undoubtedly the tactic they will employ against Germany.

A star in midfield

To take full advantage of fleeting moments of possession against Löw's side, England will need a clever playmaker and it seems as though Hodgson will be willing to give Tottenham break-through talent Dele Alli the chance to shine on the big stage.

The 19-year old will be full of confidence after notching up seven assists this season for Tottenham as well as playing behind a familiar face in Kane. Yet it is likely that he will be given a rarely large amount of freedom in the midfield against Germany.

With Bastian Schweinsteiger's recent injury, Löw will most likely make compromises in his midfield to the effect of playing Toni Kroos and Sami Khedria in a double-pivot partnership in the centre of the pitch. Although both players are exceptional midfield talents, neither has ever been specifically tasked with sitting in front of the defense and keeping an eye on the opponent's attacking players.

Kroos does tend to sit, but he can rarely be relied upon to dig in and do the defensive work. And although Khedira does enjoy defensive work, he's far more inclined to play from one box to the other and leave space behind him in midfield.

Löw could combat this by brining in a more defense-minded player like Christoph Kramer or Emre Can, but unless he does we're likely to see a very attacking central pairing in Germany's lineup on Saturday, which may offer all sorts of opportunities to England.

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