History may suggest that Germany are part of next Tuesday’s Wembley clash as favorites against England, but the form of Joachim LÃ¶w’s side at Euro 2020 would certainly suggest otherwise.
Described by football magazine Kicker as a “construction site” after their stumble in Group F, there is no doubt that this German team is anything but the well-oiled machine we expect from a nation that reached the European Championship final at six times.
Gareth Southgate’s side might have some things to convince but the England manager can certainly take note of a few important holes in this squad and look to capitalize on them.
Where Germany is vulnerable
1. Get behind Hummels
There is no doubt that Germany had a huge problem in central defense before this tournament. LÃ¶w was not happy with the nation’s dwindling options and eventually had to swallow his pride and welcome Mats Hummels to the squad after he was banned in March 2019. However, the move posed its own problems.
The Borussia Dortmund player is a smart defender and a formidable passer, but his pace quickly became a serious problem for Germany. LÃ¶w tried to accommodate this by placing Antonio RÃ¼diger and Matthias Ginter on either side of Hummels but it didn’t work.
As Kylian Mbappe did for France, Diogo Jota for Portugal and Raheem Sterling can surely do for England, the counterattacks against Hummels – now 32 – are a clear and obvious path to goal against a team. German who will surely seek to get back on the ground and put pressure on England in their own half.
Germany have already conceded five goals in three games, and one of them came off Hummels’ right foot in a desperate attempt to get back into position and block Mbappe.
“Sometimes that second is enough for you to be too late when the forward has the decisive advantage,” noted Michael Ballack when highlighting Hummels’ late reaction to Hungary’s opening goal on Wednesday. There is no reason why England’s quick forwards shouldn’t put the German defender under the same discomfort.
2. Find space behind the rear fenders
Germany may have some of the best midfielders in the world, but when it comes to scoring goals most of their assists come from Gosens on the left flank and Joshua Kimmich on the right.
Indeed, with LÃ¶w playing a traditional 3-4-3 formation with two starting midfielders, the German full-backs are responsible for providing the necessary breadth and service in the box. As a result, both players were responsible for setting up four of Germany’s six goals at this summer’s tournament.
However, that success hinges on bombarding Kimmich and Gosens in the opposing half with the kind of tenacity that can often leave space on either flank. As we saw in the home goal against France and Andras Schafer’s goal for Hungary on Wednesday, opposing midfielders or full-backs can exploit the space behind Kimmich and Gosens with ominous effect.