England face Germany on Friday night at Wembley amid a host of withdrawals from the squad. Gareth Southgate has to contend with the absence of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Harry Winks, Fabian Delph and Danny Drinkwater.
The England boss has little choice but to test some of his younger, fringe players, but a glance at England’s squad sheet reveals just how lacking the Three Lions are in strength in depth. Midfield is the area most affected by those drop-outs and Southgate’s options are limited to Eric Dier, Jesse Lingard, Jake Livermore, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ashley Young and Jack Cork. Such inexperience has to be a concern when up against a strong German side.
Germany arrive off the back of seven straight international wins and have a strong squad despite the absence of Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos and Jerome Boateng. Manager Joachim Low has indicated that he will give game time to some of his squad players, but the likes of Sane, Werner and Draxler could lead the German attack.
At the same time Chris Coleman and Wales visit France for a tough friendly which comes just a month after they missed out on a place at Russia 2018. Republic of Ireland’s victory in Cardiff in the final group match saw them take the play off place from their close rivals, and Ireland will line up against Denmark on Saturday in a bid to book a spot at the World Cup. France cantered through their qualification group to clinch an automatic spot, despite one or two hiccups, and this is a very difficult fixture for a Welsh side still reeling from that disappointment.
England v Germany
There could be a bit of value in backing Germany to win the game and both teams to score at +333 with Bet365.
Germany haven’t lost a game since going out of Euro 2016 to France, winning 16 and drawing 3 of their 19 fixtures. They won 10 out of 10 in qualifying and beat England 1-0 in their last friendly meeting back in March – Lukas Podolski scoring a fitting goal on his last ever performance in a German shirt. The strength in depth of the German squad was demonstrated in the summer when a ‘second string’ squad won the Confederations Cup ahead of Portugal, Chile and Mexico. They rarely fail to score and have found the net in 13 of the last 14 internationals against England. One silver lining for England fans to hold on to is the fact that Germany have only kept four clean sheets in the last ten matches, conceding against the likes of Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Cameroon and Australia.
England’s midfield woes could leave them exposed, but at least Southgate can call on a strong and experienced defence. In attacking positions the onus will fall on Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford, with Swansea’s on-loan Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham the only other option. England should be capable of getting on the scoresheet in a friendly against an under-strength Germany side, but they may struggle to keep them out at the other end. Any gaps or indecision in the English midfield will be brutally exploited by Germany’s pacy attacking players. The back four may be left exposed at times, and England have looked shaky enough in recent qualifiers to suggest they could buckle under too much pressure.
Both managers will inevitably play down the importance of the match and say its an exercise in measuring up players, but there is always an extra spice to England v Germany fixtures. Opposition teams all want to win at Wembley and there is a special rivalry between these two old foes. If this were a competitive match with both teams at full strength it would be a different betting proposition, but in light of such a weakness of options in the England midfield the game is tilted in Germany’s favour.
France v Wales
Our other bet for the night in friendlies is France to win to nil at odds of -128 with BetVictor.
France haven’t always been the safest bet when it comes to keeping clean sheets, but this is a Wales team rocked on its heels after that failure to reach the World Cup last month. Gareth Bale is out injured again, and how Welsh fans must wish he had been on the pitch as they saw their team fail to break down a resolute Ireland defence. West Ham’s James Collins has announced his retirement from international football, but Everton’s Ashley Williams has confirmed he has no plans to do the same.
France can count some of the world’s most potent strikers in Mbappe and Griezmann, and the Welsh defence is sure to be tested. Les Blues suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat away in Sweden in World Cup qualifying but did enough to top the group and reach next year’s tournament. Their only other loss since Euro 2016 came in a 2-0 friendly defeat to Spain. It’s been more or less plain sailing otherwise, and they’ve kept three clean sheets in the last five home internationals, including a 5-0 win over Paraguay and a 4-0 win over Netherlands.
Germany to win and both teams to score
Friday 10th November, 20:00 GMT
France to win to Nil
Friday 10th November, 20:00 GMT