England won 3-2 in dramatic fashion against world champions Germany on Saturday, with three Liverpool players featuring for the Three Lions.
International friendlies are normally one of sports most tedious affairs, but for once, we were treated to a thrilling encounter between two of the world’s most famous footballing nations.
England trailed 2-0 to Joachim Low’s side in the second-half, but goals from Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and a last-gasp Eric Dier header completely turned the game on its head.
The Berlin showdown saw Liverpool trio Nathaniel Clyne, Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana all start for the Three Lions, while Emre Can had a fairly low-key night at right-back for the hosts.
The English trio will be hoping to retain their places ahead of Euro 2016, but how did they fare in Berlin on Saturday evening?
Clyne has been very much Mr Reliable for Liverpool since his move from Southampton last summer, and he appears to now be Roy Hodgson’s first-choice right-back.
All in all, it was a good night for him.
In terms of keeping the dangerous, intelligent Marco Reus quiet, Clyne passed with flying colours, with the Borussia Dortmund man on the periphery throughout.
The Englishman was not forced into making a single tackle, and one potentially goal-saving block to deny Sami Khedira in the first-half highlighted what an excellent defender Clyne is.
He linked-up intelligently with club teammate Lallana down the right on a number of occasions, with some neat passing and energetic bursts into the attacking third catching the eye.
Mario Gomez had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside before the interval, and Clyne, playing the striker onside, saw his blushes spared. It was an error than can be so ruthlessly punished at international level.
In the second-half, Clyne once again impressed on the whole, although it wasn’t all good.
He failed to cover himself in glory for Gomez’s header that made it 2-0 – he didn’t read the danger – and his pass completion rate ended up at a forgettable 62 per cent. No England player was dispossessed more times (2) either.
Clyne’s performance in the last 20 minutes or so epitomised England’s hunger and belief in the latter stages, though, and he played a key role in the visitors drawing level.
A strong run down the right saw him beat Liverpool target Jonas Hector for pace, before his low cross was turned in spectacularly by Vardy.
The introduction of the lazy Lukas Podolski certainly helped Clyne, but he showed more attacking quality than we have seen during his time at Anfield to date.
A few defensive slip-ups aside, this was a decent night for the right-back.
Much has been said about Henderson’s rather uninspiring form of late, but he still managed to earn a start against Germany on Saturday evening.
Deployed slightly to the right in a 4-3-3 system – Dier sat deep in the holding midfield role, with Dele Alli to the left – the Reds skipper looked far happier than he has in a midfield two in recent weeks.
The biggest asset that Henderson has at his disposal is his endless running and ability to press opponents, but his role at Liverpool has been far more disciplined of late, and it has taken away his greatest attribute.
The 25-year-old played with more freedom against the Germans, with more of a box-to-box style evident from start to finish.
One inviting early cross just evaded everyone – the most underrated part of Henderson’s game – with his initial run into the attacking third proof of the freedom he was given by Hodgson.
Toni Kroos, in particular, was harassed endlessly by Henderson, although at times his overly physical style saw needless free-kicks awarded.
On a selfish #LFC note, clear again tonight why/how Henderson suits a 3 man midfield better. Able to press in tandem. Best game in ages.
— Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) March 26, 2016
One ambitious half-volley from 35 yards drifted harmlessly wide before the interval, and while there had been more impressive performers around him, Henderson had been his typical understated but effective self.
The midfielder was arguably more impressive in the second-half, but there were times when his limitations were exposed.
A few simple passes failed to find teammates, and his general use of the ball was not as slick as the likes of Dier, Alli and Lallana. He did still complete 88 per cent of his passes, despite this.
Henderson’s corner eventually led to Kane pulling a goal back, and his last-minute set-piece perfectly found the head of Dier, who finished well. Why can’t he deliver like that for Liverpool?
Prior to the late drama, the ex-Sunderland man had shot narrowly wide from range, and should have buried a golden opportunity that was blocked by Hector. Finishing is something he must work on.
This was not a perfect night for Henderson, and his detractors will no doubt be out in force again, but his energy, reading of play and set-piece delivery all stood out, and he helped England produce an excellent victory.
He will never be a world-class footballer, or a consistent match-winner, but players of his ilk can be integral to the success of any team.
Lallana has come on leaps and bounds in 2016, with a string of influential displays for Liverpool seeing him become a regular under Jurgen Klopp.
The 27-year-old is not guaranteed a starting berth in the summer, but Hodgson has always liked him, and named him in the starting eleven against the world champions.
Lallana was played on the right of a front-three, as he often has for the Reds this season, with Kane leading the line and Danny Welbeck on the left.
Despite not setting the world alight at any point, it was clear to see the confidence still running through the forward’s veins, and he never looked out of his depth against a number of world-class players.
His relentless pressing was as effective as any England player, particularly in the first-half, with the likes of Kroos and Khedira given no time to settle. He won 100 per cent of his tackles too.
One of Lallana’s greatest qualities is his ability to keep the ball – he can sometimes hold onto it for too long – and he did this well from start to finish, ensuring England kept possession far better than in recent years.
His movement was clever, and he linked up nicely with both Clyne and Henderson down the right-hand side of the pitch.
Despite a number of positives, Lallana did struggle to play a pivotal role in the game, especially in comparison with some of England’s other attackers.
He flitted about the pitch in his usual silky manner, but he didn’t provide enough quality when it was needed. One bad miss with the goal gaping highlighted his lack of a goalscoring edge, which is a big downside to his game.
The England man did play a part in Vardy’s equaliser, though, moving the ball quickly to the on-rushing Clyne, before being substituted for Everton‘s Ross Barkley midway through the second-half.
On a night that saw England perform superbly as a unit, Lallana did his job impressively, but a little more guile in key areas was needed.
He did enough to justify starting in the summer, however.
(Statistics via WhoScored.)
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