On June 27th 2010, England appeared to hit a new low. Fabio Capello’s team suffered a humiliating 4-1 defeat in their World Cup round of 16 match.
England spoke of the injustice of Frank Lampard’s ‘ghost goal’ which was missed by the referee, yet could have no complaints about the result as a youthful German team outclassed them in Bloemfontein.
German football has enjoyed a golden spell since the teams last met, culminating in two Bundesliga sides brimming with homegrown players competing the Champions League final at Wembley last season.
Meanwhile England have a new manager in the form of Roy Hodgson and have qualified for next summer’s tournament in Brazil.
Captain Steven Gerrard has this week claimed that the England team facing Germany on Tuesday is stronger than the one thrashed by them three years ago.
If England’s full squad from South Africa is analysed, you feel that Gerrard’s comments are justified.
The English national side is a much changed one from the last World Cup. Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney are the only players from the line up in Bloemfontein who will start at Wembley.
Of those who travelled to South Africa, four players now ply their trade in the second tier of English football (Rob Green, Shaun Wright Phillips, Matthew Upson and Stephen Warnock).
Another two have retired from the game altogether (Jamie Carragher and Ledley King). In contrast Germany fielded a team stocked with young players all too willing to outrun their opponents.
Although players such as Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck may never become truly world class in the way that Mesut Ozil and Mario Gotze already are for Germany, the mere inclusion of young players as key members of the squad is surely a step in the right direction.
In form Daniel Sturridge is another exciting prospect for England fans, as the dilemma over who should partner Wayne Rooney in attack appears to have been resolved.
Similarly Joe Hart has quelled the goalkeeping crisis by making England’s number one jersey his own.
The Man City stopper has had difficulties with his club side but has barely put a foot wrong for England, and represents progress from the high profile errors of Green, Robinson and James.
The Euro 2012 campaign may not have been spectacular, yet they did achieve creditable wins against hosts Ukraine and a decent Sweden side, as well as a draw against France.
Roy Hodgson’s men were lucky to take Italy to penalties in the quarter finals, however the campaign reflects well in comparison to a solitary 1-0 win over Slovenia in South Africa.
The 2-0 defeat to Chile was further evidence that England are a relatively average team, and fans have begun to accept that the chances of glory in Brazil are slim at best.
However, England have shown signs of slow progress, and they will be looking to build upon that this evening.
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