They say that there is no such thing as a friendly match and this is never more true than England v Germany. The recent, amazing success of the England Youth teams (U17s and U20s won the World Cup this year, U19s won the European Cup this year) has generated a sense of buzz and euphoria around the national team. It remains to be seen however whether this new crop of talented youngsters can go on and win a title at senior level but, for the moment, there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful and excited for the future of English football.
The current senior team are not without their own superstars; Kane, Alli, Walker and Sterling are all top class players at top class club sides. For me, there is one thing missing though that's holding this England team back, a strategist at the heart of their play.
They really do need a midfielder in the mould of Paul Scholes, who can dictate the flow and tempo of a game. This is where matches are decided, especially at international level and this is where the English team are missing some class to take them to the next level.
England need only to look on their own doorstep for the type of player I am talking about. Manchester City are currently top of the Premier League, in large part due to the match-winning exploits of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva. These are the type of players that England needs; matching technical ability with flawless vision.
They are also the type of player that excels under pressure, which can be an issue for England. The level of expectation on England whenever a big tournament rolls around seems to get bigger every time. This level of expectation can weigh heavily on a team. When everything bar a tournament win is deemed as a failure, it can prey on the minds of the players as they take to the field and, eventually, inhibit them.
In Germany, we have more positive experiences with this type of pressure. We have won four World Cup finals and lost four World Cup finals. We have won three European Cup Finals and lost three. This experience of winning and losing in such high stakes games has made it easier for us to celebrate our wins and handle our losses. As a result, the team has become more self-confident and is able to handle the pressure and expectation of appearing in a major tournament.
In midfield, we have some world-class players like Götze, Özil and Kroos who have the ability to have an impact on any match, at any time. The depth of this current German squad is enormous. It combines the experience of the 2014 World Cup winners, the exuberance of the 2017 U21 European Champions and the carefree, expressive nature of the 2017 Confederation Cup winners. It really is an astonishing pool of talent that we can draw from.
Whoever wants to win titles and earn accolades will have to impose themselves on the game, even as a young player. It doesn't matter if we are talking about the Bundesliga, Premier League or international tournaments, to be a success you need to match intelligence, a certain toughness as well as a hunger to succeed. There is no lack of top talent in England and Germany. I will be watching avidly to see which country can make the most progress in the run up to Russia.
England v Germany to finish 2-2 @ 12/1 (Betfair Sportsbook)