A goal-filled second half at Wembley saw England and Germany share the spoils in a pulsating 3-3 draw. A dull first half burst into life with the visitors going two goals up before Gareth Southgate’s side fought back to lead 3-2. Kai Havertz however made sure Germany didn’t suffer a second successive defeat with am 86th minute equaliser. Here we look at five takeaways from Monday’s match.
1. The number 9 issue is still an issue.
Hansi Flick opted to drop Timo Werner to the bench and played Kai Havertz in the more advanced role in attack. The first half was frustrating with no real chances from Germany and Havertz was a little static. Playing with a block of five in defence, Germany played around the outside with no outlet. Flinging in crosses from David Raum or Jonas Hofmann was not an option with Havertz up top.
The second half saw Werner on for Hofmann and Havertz moving to a more familiar role behind the striker. Werner missed a chance to square in the 59th minute and then fired wide after being played in by Musiala three minutes later. Havertz scored twice in his deeper role and looked a much better player there.
Werner will start the World Cup as the team’s number 9 option, but questions remain as to his goal threat. There is more pace than accuracy and Hansi Flick needs a Plan B that doesn’t involve a ‘false nine’ but a ‘real nine.’
2. Thilo Kehrer solves the right back question.
The experiment of playing Jonas Hofmann at right back against Hungary was a mistake Hansi Flick admitted and Thilo Kehrer came in. The West Ham fullback proved a success and could have booked his place in the World Cup starting XI.
In possession Germany reverted to a back three with Kehrer pushing forward into an almost right-wing role working in tandem well with Jonas Hofmann in the first 45 minutes. The player in form and in possession of the shirt usually keeps the shirt and that is the case with Kehrer.
3. There is no Thomas Müller question
After not having the best of games against Hungary as stand-in captain Thomas Müller dropped to the bench with Jamal Musiala coming in. Coach Hansi Flick however was quick to dispel any theories that Müller’s place in the team was under threat for the World Cup.
Talking to RTL before the game, the Bundestrainer stressed the Bayern attacker’s importance to the team. “There is no Thomas Müller question. Thomas gives the team so much. He’s an experienced player. But it was clear that Jamal would play.
“Like Kai Havertz, he’s a great footballer. They’re good for us. Jamal should just play having fun. That’s what sets him apart. He always wants the ball and knows what to do with it.”
4. Nico Schlotterbeck or Niklas Süle to partner Rüdiger in Qatar?
The suspension of Antonio Rüdiger allowed Hansi Flick to pair the Borussia Dortmund duo of Niklas Süle and Nico Schlotterbeck in the centre of defence and he now has to decide which of the two defenders will partner the Real Madrid colossus in the World Cup.
Both had good games with Süle showing more sharpness and fitness than earlier in the season. He brought the ball out from the back more in the second half and used his physique well against Harry Kane when required.
Schlotterbeck had a sense of déjà-vu when conceding a penalty which Harry Kane converted (just like in Munich), but he did get in some important blocks and generally read the game well until his poor challenge on Jude Bellingham for the spot kick.
5. Letting slip a two-goal lead won’t please Hansi Flick.
In the end Germany needed an 86th minute equaliser to avoid defeat, which considering they had a 2-0 lead with twenty minutes left, was disappointing. England looked down in the dumps after Kai Havertz thumped in the second goal, but a lack of concentration allowed a resurgent England to score twice in the space of three minutes.
A clumsy challenge from Schlotterbeck then almost cost them dearly. A point at Wembley against England on paper is not a terrible result, but there was more in this game for Germany considering the position they got themselves in.