Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has told his side not to waste the opportunity of a fresh start if they are to follow the lead of opponents Germany and overcome their tendency of flopping at major tournaments.
Southgate will take charge of England for the first time in a permanent capacity against the world champions in Dortmund, having passed his four-match audition for the role following Sam Allardyce’s sacking in September.
Germany have reached at least the semi-finals of the last four World Cups and three European Championships, which is in stark contrast to England’s record of consistent failure and underachievement.
Southgate has promised to embrace new concepts and ways of working in order to battle the nation’s list of historical shortcomings, the most recent being last summer’s elimination from Euro 2016 at the hands of Iceland.
“There are opportunities to affect things tactically, there are opportunities to affect things in terms of our physical preparation, the style of our play and the mentality that we bring if we want to be a team that is challenging the best in the world,” said Southgate.
“We are ranked No14 in the world at the moment. We can’t keep turning around and saying ‘if only we had done a little bit better in this one game’.
“We have to look at the bigger picture and bigger trend of performances and I am not sure we have always looked at ourselves in the mirror as closely as that. We have to seriously say what is needed to improve.
“I want new ideas and new ways of thinking. We have had success in every other sport in our country and we are almost a missing piece in that. That is a great driver but we know it is the hardest one to succeed in and if we do succeed it will have the most impact on our country and the people.”
Southgate has remained tight-lipped on his selection although has confirmed that Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart, currently on loan at Torino, will start, while Chelsea centre-half Gary Cahill is set to captain the side.
“He [Cahill] is in very good form, he’s one of the players in the side who knows what’s needed to win,” added Southgate. “He’s grown in stature this season, in confidence, in the way he’s using the ball, showing real composure in his play.
“His experience is sometimes overlooked, because he goes quietly about his job and gets on with it. It’s great for him to be able to captain the side tomorrow.”
Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling has emerged as a doubt for the clash after missing training yesterday, while Manchester United defender Phil Jones has returned to his club after picking up an injury.
Germany are not without their own injury dilemmas as Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil, Julian Draxler, Mario Gomez and Manuel Neuer have all been ruled out of the showdown.