In the space of three years my England side have been pitted against Germany on three occasions: we secured a smash and grab victory over them in the Final of the European Championships, but they levelled the playing field with a scintillating win over us during the Confederations Cup one year ago. Quite frankly, myself and Joachim Löw have been at loggerheads since the very start of this save – just like cream ourselves and Germany have been able to rise to the top. Germany went into the Final sitting on top of the world, 600 coefficient points above us in the world rankings – but what about after the fixture?
That gap? Yeh, it’s closed…
England (P) 1-1 Germany, Arena CSKA – Moscow
Now, it doesn’t take a mystic to tell you that prior to a big match on FM you will probably be asked about your ability to “spring a surprise” on your opposition… However, for me – that simply isn’t an issue because:
- I don’t attend press conferences anymore: they make the prospect of a chat with Wayne Rooney exhilarating.
- I didn’t intend to “spring any surprises” upon Mr Löw and his side…
My England side have one strategy. It’s called 4-3-3.
John Terry, John Stones, Danny Welbeck, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling and held down their place in the spine of my side – despite their evident and almost overwhelming levels of fatigue.
Terry lost the coin toss, surrendering possession to the German midfield of Özil, Kroos and Can immediately. The awful shame about that is that Germany are so awfully good at football, Müller, Volland and Reus are able to manipulate a ball at a moment’s notice – but would their temperament enable them to do so in the World Cup Final, and against a fierce European rival? To begin with the answer to that question appeared to be “no”; Barkley, Dier and Sterling were able to combine brilliantly from an early stage – passing slickly and moving fluidly. Though unsurprisingly the German’s were not willing to roll over and take whatever punishment Harry Kane felt was appropriate to inflict: Manuel Neuer and Jonas Hector guarded the German net bravely.
However, they could only resist my side’s relentless press and ****housery for so long: after 24 minutes we were ahead, and it was the most beautiful moment of euphoria I had ever been exposed to by eleven computerised men. Harry Kane connected with the deepest of all deep crosses from Leeds United’s Sam Byram and then sent the ball into the net; looping his header after the grasping arm of Manuel Neuer like no-one else can.
Although, euphoria can only last for so long. Harry Kane’s goal actually acted as the world’s largest wake-up-alarm, and its product was genuinely terrifying. Like a wounded fighter Germany sprang to life, dominating the ball for the duration of the half – probably feeling hard-done-by to be entering the break a goal behind to the worse side. That feeling would roll on and on and on, until Karim Bellarabi was finally able to stab a low, driven shot under the reaching arm of Joe Hart: not even Robert Green would have saved that strike in all fairness. It was a peach of a finish.
The tension felt during the final ten minutes of the Final can only be described as colossal. With each-and-every additional step that John Terry had to trudge he was edging closer and closer to retirement – but would he retire as one of only seven players to have won both the World Cup and Euros for England? We remained without an answer until after the 120th minute – the game turned stale as it became increasingly obvious that a penalty shoot-out would be required to separate the two sides…
John Terry, Danny Welbeck, Ross Barkley, Joe Hart and Mesut Özil will all go down as legends of English football – the first three smashed the ball home, while Özil’s supreme cockiness paired with Joe Hart’s steely balls combined to create the perfect storm. With the tie resting solely on his shoulders Özil attempted to re-create what only Pirlo can do – put England to the sword with style, an incredible beard and a chipped penalty. All that Joe Hart had to do was stand still and watch the ball bounce off of his chest to safety!
For the second time in three years we had beaten Germany in a final – but this time it was the Final to end all final’s: for the second time in footballing history England were the champions of the world, and we did it while fielding a 37-year old centre back, a former Halifax Town forward and two West Ham full-backs. Just like we had done at the European Championships in France we had defied the odds to be crowned in front of a baying crowd.
Going into the tournament we were most certainly not considered as one of the favourites, despite being the reigning European Champions, because our pre-World Cup form was laughably bad. We had to battle to a win against American Samoa and could only draw with a weakened Argentinian side at the home of Boca Juniors: quite frankly we looked like a laughing-stock. However, that image was soon exposed for the feeble misconception that it was. Despite receiving an embarrassing beating at the hands of the Jamaicans we put ourselves back on the map with solid wins over Scotland and Algeria – but it was only after our Quarter Final win over France that we were truly taken seriously. Despite only progressing past Portugal on penalties we went into the Final as joint favourites: only a madman would predict which way the pendulum would swing, no-one could possibly foresee the outcome of our battle with Germany… But quite frankly I could not care any less! After three years, three tournaments and two finals I can openly admit that I did not ever envisage that I would be able to take this side – a side that is so awfully mediocre in real life – to the top of world football on Football Manager 2016; but that is exactly what I have done. With a European Championship successfully stowed away in the FA’s trophy cabinet I was able to secure the elusive second World Cup – sending my make-believe English followers into jubilation, celebration and at least a fortnight of nursing a headache… What a time to be alive!
That is all for what could be the final instalment of ‘Roaring Again’, a Football Manager 2016 series with the English National team. I very much hope that you have found this article interesting, and if you have then maybe you would like to get in touch with me – and my fellow Football Manager Addicts admin folk! – over in our Facebook Group, through my Facebook Page, via Twitter or on Tifo.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all so, so much for your incredible support of this series – especially before I had to take an extended break from publishing it! I have thoroughly enjoyed this experience and it has truly helped me to decide which direction I wish to take with regards to my Football Manager 2017 content! However, before FM17 kicks in I have a proposition for you: I have played further on in this save then I have reported on – it is entirely up to you as to whether or not you would like me to dust off those screenshots and publish a final finale to this series. It would be more reflective in its nature, looking back on my time as the manager of the English National Team…
If you would like to see a Final Time Part II please do let me know through Facebook (follow the above link to our group!)…
Again, I would like to say thank you for the incredible support that you have shown this site over the past twelve months 🙂 We have gone from strength to strength in that time and I can honestly say that I look forward to producing a higher standard of content for you with regards to Football Manager 2017!