England host Germany in a friendly at Wembley on Friday and Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford could face a stern test against Bayern Munich right-back Joshua Kimmich.
Both national sides have secured places at next year’s World Cup in Russia after topping their respective groups with undefeated qualifying campaigns.
Gareth Southgate’s squad has been depleted to 22 players after Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Fabian Delph, Harry Winks and Jordan Henderson were ruled out through injury – with Jake Livermore and Jack Cork drafted in for midfield cover.
In the absence of Kane, Rashford has been Southgate’s most used forward during qualifying and is likely to be deployed down the left channel against Germany.
Rashford, who turned 20 at the end of last month, clocked 416 minutes during the 10 qualifying games and has started the last three fixtures since scoring a match-winner against Slovakia in September.
The youngster’s rise onto the international stage has been rapid, having only made his United debut in February last year and earning his first England cap three months later – but he could face a stern test against right-back Kimmich on Friday.
Kimmich, who has been likened to Philipp Lahm, has enjoyed similar fast-tracked success – signing for Bayern Munich in 2015 and earning his international debut last year.
Like Rashford, the 22-year-old has undergone a change in position, switching from central midfield to right-back and becoming Germany boss Joachim Low’s first choice in the adopted role.
During qualifying, England have recorded slightly superior defensive stats than Germany but have been vastly inferior in front of goal.
Low’s side scored a remarkable 43 goals from their 10 games compared with 18 from their upcoming hosts – so England’s defence will once again need to be watertight.
England surpass their opponents for dribbles, with Rashford ranking top per 90 minutes (5.0 per game), and have a marginal aerial superiority – which could be used to exploit the German defence from crosses.
However, both sides fire crosses in equal measure: England completing 58 to Germany’s 63 during qualifying – with Rashford and Kimmich being the most prolific, completing 10 and 16, respectively.
Per 90 minutes, out of England’s midfielders and forwards, Rashford is behind only Wayne Rooney, who has since retired from international duties, for successful crosses (2.2) and ranks top for chances created (5.4), second for assists (0.4) and third for shots on target (1.7).
Meanwhile, despite being a right-back, Kimmich has notched nine assists during qualifying – more than any other player in the Germany squad.
Among Germany defenders, the youngster ranks top for chances created per 90 minutes (2.1) and tends to get one shot on goal during a game.
Both Rashford and Kimmich have attacking impetus and are likely to clash down their respective flanks in the centre of the pitch – if both managers deploy the players in their regular roles.
Will Kimmich vacate the space for Rashford to exploit, or will the German curb his attacking tendencies to nullify the in-form Englishman?