Sunday, October 21, 2018

England will learn very little from Germany friendly

David Nugent in Editorial, General Soccer News 9 Nov 2017

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A player withdrawing from the England squad for friendly games has now become the norm. Most of those players withdraw from the squad through injury, but in reality, most will be playing for their clubs next weekend.

The clubs have a right to protect their highly valuable assets. The players have a right to look after their physical condition. Nobody in their right mind would risk even the slightest of injuries to play in meaningless friendlies, even if they were against Germany and Brazil.

England have seen a number of key players pull out of their squad to face Germany in a friendly on Friday night, a game the Three Lions are 27/10 to win.

A weakened squad

The fact that so many players have withdrawn from the squad means that a number of uncapped players have earned call-ups.

The likes of youngsters Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Joe Gomez and Tammy Abraham have earned call-ups, while Burnley midfielder Jack Cork has also earned his first call-up at the age of 28.

Gomez, Loftus-Cheek and Abraham have been rewarded with places in the squad after progressing from the under-21 team. All three have also managed to force their way into the starting line-ups of their respective clubs.

There is very little doubt that not all of the quartet would have been in the squad if boss Gareth Southgate had everybody fit and at his disposal. The England boss may have experimented slightly in this game.

However, I doubt that Southgate will have experimented that much against Germany. He will have wanted to avoid a humiliating defeat, so picked as strong a team as possible.

Fielding weakened teams

It may be a great moment for any player to receive an international call-up. However, none of those players are going to learn much by playing in the forthcoming friendly matches.

The reason for my scepticism is that Germany will also probably field an ‘experimental’ side at Wembley. The difference is that Germany’s experimental side will likely be stronger than the side that England field at next year’s World Cup, such is the rich talent available to Die Mannschaft boss Joachim Low.

What will playing against a German second-team teach the players? In fact, what will Gareth Southgate learn from the youngsters playing in such a game that he would not learn from watching them in the Premier League?

I am all for youngsters getting their chance for England. However, if they are playing in meaningless friendlies their performances, good, bad or ugly matter very little.

These youngsters play with and against international players every week in the Premier League. It will not be a new experience for any of them. Most of them have also played against the likes of Germany at underage level, so again nothing new.

Friendly games can be a waste of time

For me, friendly games can often be a waste of everybody’s time. It is a privilege to represent your country at international. However, when it means very little and so many players win caps these days it dilutes the achievement of playing for your country.

International football can be great, exhilarating and a great spectacle. Friendly games just leave me cold, though. Tottenham and England midfielder Eric Dier recently claimed that there were no friendlies between the Three Lions and Germany.

Sorry to disagree, but I really cannot see what anybody is going to gain out of tonight. The young players may make their debuts, but it may well be a hollow experience.

Friendly games, despite not being that competitive just offer another chance for players to be injured. With the World Cup just over six months away, that is the last thing players need.

Will England get anything out of the friendly against Germany?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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