Preview England – Germany

The FIFA world ranking teams no6 and (yet) no1 are playing for 3rd place in this tournament and there could be hardly any more contrasts in what they might think about this game. Germany bitterly disappointed that they have to play there instead of the final and heavy criticism and pressure already going on in the German media for the manager from the supporters who had expected nothing else than to be crowned champions. England also bitterly disappointed but for quite complementary reasons. They started cautious – to use a friendly description – against France in their first game but have grown into the tournament from game to game. And finally they managed to be the far better side who were tremendously unlucky to lose a semi final against Japan 1:2 on an own goal at extra time of the now maybe life long infamous Laura Bassett being the tragic classical figure of the drama as the personification of the brave fighting but unlucky hero.

But yet the reactions back home could hardly be more positive in England.
Germany in the contrary started the tournament quite brightly and for many people took over as favorites after some mediocre performances of their main rivals. But after a convincing 4:1 victory over Sweden they already rode their luck in a penalty shoot out against France to finally lose out 0:2 to arch rivals USA in the semi final which might have been some kind of premature final.

What to expect
Expectations for a match for third spot usually arent that high especially considering disappointed losers of the semis or maybe teams who pitch those players who have not yet had much time on the field to shine as a kind of thank-you friendly.
Here however the Germans have already made clear that they are aiming to go for the third place to have at least a bit of a compensation for what already has been not what they had been looking for. England on the other side are on a massive emotional high and surely keen to round up what has been their best world championships ever. And they still have to beat Germany for the very first time after they could not yet manage this in 20 previous games. Given the focus that still lies on this game back home – albeit in Germany much less friendly – could still make it quite interesting.
It will hardly be of any international interest though outside of the two participating countries compared to the international interest of the quarter or semi finals for example. As for example the big TV stations in Germany had already long ago announced that they only would be broadcasting this game when Germany would be participating.

Keys to success
So as this game hardly does follow any standard patterns in regards of the importance of success this point might be somewhat useless to discuss. It certainly kind of depends how seriously the fight for the win is taken. Even if both sides surely will work hard to win it is the very last game after very long weeks and shortly before departure back home. And that might influence the players decision making on the field (hopefully) more towards their natural football playing instincts than tactical discipline.
Still it will be important for England to keep their slightly more physical opponents at bay. Germany will face difficulties if they cant use their opponents errors to score. But they are quite good to force such errors and convert as it has been pointed out in the blog post for the game Sweden – Germany already. The English team have painfully experienced that as well in their last friendly. If England can avoid that sort of errors then Germany might lack the creativity to break their defense down.

On the other side everybody could witness the German back line difficulty against fast forwards who are moving well up front to get behind them. It have mainly been Morgan and Thomis in the last two games to provide all sorts of trouble. It will be interesting to see if England is aiming to exploit that as well what they certainly should. And where they have some players to try this as well. However they never tried this against stronger opponents during these championships so far.

Looking at Englands last games it was a big factor how Jill Scott on the right wing could provide width to their attacks and serve as an always available support player. If however Germany plays with Kemme she might be able to prevent that (Cramer probably would not) in which case it would be necessary to change Scott into another position.

Things to watch out for:

England have lost 3:0 to Germany late last year in a friendly at Wembley at front of a record breaking crowd. That seemed to have been quite a massive shock to them after being on a high coming from a WC qualification group where they hadnt lost a single point. Who knows if they sometimes tend to overreact a little bit in both directions. Because the next two games they faced one of the worlds top sides – the USA in a friendly in early 2015 and France for their first world cup match – they massively (and for some peoples taste disappointingly) played "parking the bus" in front of their own goal.
The first time they trusted themselves again to give it more of a go – against Japan in the semi finals – they did very well in pressing up front and deep in the opposite half to surprise and deny Japan from the fluent possession game we used to see most of the times in their previous games. Will they try this again and if so – will they be able to do it with the same degree of success.
Or will Germany be able to deny them and get some bitterly needed credit back?

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