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England learn some harsh lessons but its not all bad news


Much of what has been seen from England since the 2013 European championships has been positive. As we all know, and as coach Mark Sampson has often said, England are on a journey and as we all know journeys in all walks of life have ups and downs. On Sunday England learnt a harsh lesson along that road, as Germany showed them the level that is needed to reach the very top of the women’s game. The game was effectively over after 15 minutes as the European champions raced into a 2-0 lead on their way to a comfortable 3-0 victory.
One thing nobody can accuse England of is a not being brave. Mark Sampson has installed in this side a positive attacking identity, regardless of opponents. England lined up for this game with their favourite 4-4-2 diamond formation with Duggan and Aluko up front and Sanderson at the top of the diamond. Germany got the game underway but England quickly dispossessed them with Jordan Nobbs bursting forward and unleashing a shot that rattled the bar after 30 seconds. Sadly it was to be as close as England got.
Germany were not fazed by this start from England, nor by the crowd which was over 45,000, or the fact that the game was at Wembley. When you have won 2 World Cups and 8 European championships you become accustomed to the big occasion. They very quickly settled and looked to exploit England’s full backs who like to get forward. The 4-4-2 diamond requires full backs to get forward to provide width but against a quality side like Germany it can be a risky formation to employ. The Germans took the lead on 6 minutes when an out swinging corner was unfortunately headed home by Alex Scott . 6 minutes later the visitors doubled their lead when England were caught out on the halfway line with Celia Sasic outpacing the English defence on a direct solo run and coolly slotting the ball past Bardsley.
To their credit England didn’t buckle and stuck to their task as Germany came knocking for more goals. It looked like they would hold out for HT but in added time at the end of the first half a fantastic cross from Tabea Kemme found Sasic who had drifted in between Houghton and Bronze and headed home her second of the game.
The game had a slower tempo in the second half and England restored some pride. Jill Scott came on and provided some much needed defensive cover and Fran Kirkby impressed again when she was given a late run out. England grew more into the game but the only really looked like scoring once when Jill Scott hit the side netting late on.
Full Time : England 0-3 Germany.
Although Germany fully deserved the win Sampson wasn’t too downhearted after the game; “People who have been around the game for a long time have told me that’s the most possession we have had against Germany and it’s the highest number of shots we have had against Germany...You have to remember that this German team won the European championships last year where as we didn’t even win a game”
Although England were second best, expect the Lionesses to carry on their attacking philosophy. “I firmly believe the way to beat the top sides is to go toe to toe with them” Sampson said in his post match press conference. It’s a brave route to take and there will be a few more bloody noses to come for England against the top sides as they try to close the gap to the leading nations, but how else do you learn?