England’s World Cup preparations suffered another setback as Per Mertesacker’s first-half goal gave Germany a 1-0 victory on Tuesday. After Chile’s 2-0 win last week, it is the first time that England have suffered back-to-back defeats at Wembley in 36 years.
While the defeat and under performance against Chile could be mitigated by an experimental lineup, this was a stronger XI, with Joe Hart, Ashley Cole, Daniel Sturridge and captain Steven Gerrard all being brought back. In contrast, following their 1-1 draw in Italy on Friday, Germany coach Joachim Low gave the likes of Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm and Mesut Ozil the night off and took the opportunity to look at some of his fringe players. In the absence of the injured Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Ilkay Gundogan, twins Sven and Lars Bender began in central midfield.
England, though, could not prevent another defeat that dampens expectations after two morale-boosting victories against Monetenegro and Poland last month to seal qualification for the World Cup.
There was still plenty of quality players on show for Germany, illustrating the strength in depth at Low’s disposal of the like that his opposite number Roy Hodgson can only dream. One of those with ample ability, Toni Kroos, set-up the only goal of the game six minutes before half time.
The Bayern Munich midfielder’s right-wing corner ended up being cleared back out to him and he produced another fine delivery for Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker to rise above Manchester United duo Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverly to head powerfully down into the corner. Hart has been under much scrutiny of late, but he could have done nothing to keep the ball at bay. Indeed, Hart was generally impressive throughout and confirmed his status as the best goalkeeper at Hodgson’s disposal, despite being out of the lineup at Manchester City.
England could find no way back into the match at the other end, though. The closest they came was a trademark effort from Andros Townsend, cutting in from the right that came back off the post in the second half.