England women worked hard to earn a 0-0 draw against old foe Germany in a pre-qualifier friendly in Duisburg this evening.
Before kick off there were presentations to retiring German players Célia Šašić and Nadine Angerer both of whom have been permanent fixtures in the German side and who will be missed by all football lovers, although perhaps defenders will be slightly relieved not to have to face Šašić any more!
The last meeting for these two sides was in the World Cup in Canada where England beat Germany to the bronze medal, a surprise for many (including me) who had anticipated Germany actually being in the final and not ending up in fourth place.
In their most recent games Germany had scored within the first 8 minutes, so it was with some relief that the time on the clock ticked on and England managed to grow into the match, pressing Germany high on the pitch and not allowing them to really settle. It was a great tactic from the England side, as when the German forwards did manage to get forward the threat was snuffed out from Bronze, Greenwood, Flaherty or Houghton all of whom had really good games.
England’s best period of the match was the 15 minutes before half time when Jordan Nobbs really came into her own, winning ball, distributing well, forging forward and dominating play. In fact unusually for any England team they were controlling midfield. A really good chance fell to Demi Stokes but the final shot lacked any venom and was collected comfortably by goalkeeper Laura Benkarth.
In the second half Silvia Neid introduced four substitutes and they managed to nullify the threat from Nobbs. The high pressing game from England continued but some of the passing was less crisp and possession gifted to Germany, but really there were very few clear cuts chances at either end – the battle being fought out in the middle of the park and both Karen Bardsley and Laura Benkarth playing well on the few occasions they were called on.
All in all a good result for England, they will have wanted some match experience, since the WSL finished more than a month ago and there’s no substitute for playing, on the other hand with the qualifier looming on Sunday no-one will have wanted to risk injury. The important thing, I feel is that they matched Germany and were not intimidated by them at all. A totally different performance from the one I witnessed at Wembley last year, when Germany totally outclassed England all over the pitch, credit must go to Mark Sampson for the improvement and self belief now in his team.
Now we look forward to Sunday’s Euro qualifier against Bosnia at Ashton Gate (3.30pm GMT KO).
Germany: 12 Laura Benkarth, 4 Leonie Maier, 5 Annike Krahn (C), 6 Simone Laudehr, 7 Melanie Behringer, 8 Felicitas Rauch, 11 Anja Mittag, 14 Babett Peter, 15 Anna Blasse, 18 Lina Magull, 20 Lena Goeβling.
Substitutes: 23 Sara Dabritz for Blasse ht, 16 Melanie Leupolz for Behringer ht, 22 Tabea Kemme for Laudher ht, 9 Mandy Islacker for Magull ht, 10 Dzsenifer Marozsan for Mittag 67
Substitutes not used: 21 Lisa Weiβ, 2 Jennifer Cramer, 17 Kristin Demann, 24 Sara Doorsoun.
Head coach: Silvia Neid
England: 1 Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), 2 Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), 5 Steph Houghton (C; Manchester City), 6 Gilly Flaherty (Chelsea), 3 Alex Greenwood (Notts County); 10 Jill Scott (Manchester City), 4 Fara Williams (Liverpool), 8 Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal); 7 Fran Kirby (Chelsea), 9 Jodie Taylor (Portland Thorns), 11 Demi Stokes (Manchester City).
Substitutes: 17 Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City) for Williams 68, 20 Toni Duggan (Manchester City) for Taylor 75, 19 Jess Clarke (Notts County) for Kirby 75
Substitutes not used: 12 Amy Turner (Notts County), 13 Carly Telford (Notts County), 14 Casey Stoney (Arsenal), 15 Jemma Rose (Arsenal), 16 Laura Bassett (Notts County), 18 Gemma Davison (Chelsea), 21 Rachael Laws (Sunderland), 22 Eniola Aluko (Chelsea), 23 Ellen White (Notts County).
Head coach: Mark Sampson
Referee: Esther Staubli (SUI)
Team information courtesy of The FA.
Photo by Gino D’Andrea