For some reason football needs to stop because of international friendlies, most of them not mattering to anyone. Still, Argentina beating Germany 4-2 in a World Cup Final “rematch” and England barely winning 1-0 against Norway stood out in a night of mostly unappealing matches.
The season hasn’t started and already there’s a break. That’s the scheduling for you, and that’s FIFA’s influence on what actually matters to fans. And still, there was quite a lot of enjoyable football in these two matches.
In the Argentina “revenge”, which was actually nothing like one, it was the Angel di Maria show for the first 45 minutes. Germany didn’t show up with anything resembling their strongest lineup, but were mostly unlucky not to take the lead several times in the first half. Di Maria enjoyed too much freedom as he broke to the right wing all the time, embarrassing Eric Durm.
He assisted on all three goals before scoring one himself – setting up Sergio Aguero, Erik Lamela and Federico Fernandez before scoring one himself in the 50th minute. Germany got some respect back through Mario Gotze and Andre Schurrle. The answer to the question whether or not this would have been the result in the World Cup final with Di Maria on the pitch? No. Germany would have cared a lot more about that one.
At Wembley, the empty stands didn’t stop England and Norway from putting on quite an enjoyable piece of football, with England looking mostly dangerous when the ball moved through the legs of Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge.
Joe Hart was forced to make a couple of big saves as the England defense, with Phil Jones and Gary Cahill in the thick of things, showed once again that there’s a lot of work to be done in that area.
The winning goal came in the 68th minute after Sterling was tripped in the box, leading to Wayne Rooney scoring his 41st goal for the national team from the penalty spot. He is now eight goals away from tying Bobby Charlton’s 49, but his goal ratio is the worst among England’s top 7 scorers.