ENGLAND striker Daniel Sturridge believes Friday’s 2-0 defeat to Chile should not be viewed as a surprise, with the balance of power starting to shift in world football.
Sturridge missed the game at Wembley against the South Americans, positioned 12th in governing body Fifa’s world rankings, with a foot injury but is fit to start tomorrow night’s visit of Germany.
Across the channel France must overturn a 2-0 deficit against Ukraine – runners-up to England in their World Cup qualifying group – in order to reach Brazil next summer via the play-offs.
And Sturridge feels this week’s results indicate the global game’s traditional big-hitters may not have things their own way next summer.
“A lot of teams now are underestimated,” said the Liverpool striker. “They may not be the big names of old but everybody’s playing good football now.
“The group was difficult for us, we finished on top and we’re going to the World Cup and everybody’s delighted with that. We’re moving on from that now, we’re looking forward to actually being there and hopefully performing well.”
Germany are set to be without playmaker Mesut Ozil tomorrow, who will be rested, but Arsenal team-mate Per Mertesacker is available after missing Friday’s draw with Italy through illness.
Midfielder Sami Khedira ruptured knee ligaments in Milan and will miss the trip to Wembley along with Bayern Munich duo Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer.
Yet Sturridge is still relishing the chance to line up against England’s old rivals and continue to stake his claim for a place in Roy Hodgson’s squad to fly to Brazil in 2014.
“To play against a country that plays great football, they’ve got world-class players, it’s going to be a great occasion for the fans and the players to enjoy,” he said.
“It’s important to play well at your club and when opportunities come to play for England you take them and try to stake your claim to go to the World Cup.”