Gary Cahill says England face Germany without fear, even if the world champions are the team they aspire to become.
This time last year the Chelsea defender skippered his country to a memorable 3-2 comeback win in the World Cup winners’ backyard, but it was not the precursor to a year to cherish.
Instead, England return to Germany for another March friendly starting their latest new era, with Gareth Southgate taking charge of his first match as permanent manager following a promising four-match interim stint.
The Three Lions are in a state of flux and without some key players in Dortmund, but captain Cahill will lead the side out without any trepidation.
“Me, personally no,” he said when asked if he was intimidated by Germany.
“Certainly respectful of the history of what they’ve done but man for man I’m confident in the squad we’ve got and players we have when I’m going out, like against Spain.
“I’m respectful of what they’ve done and achieved as players.
“I’m respectful that they’re top Champions League players and win trophies but I’m confident in my own team mates. So no. not really.”
That respect goes as far as admiration in terms of the way German football authorities have restructured football in their country to become the world’s best.
“Probably the golden question, isn’t it?” Cahill said about England bridging the gap.
“I think the young players to develop have to play as much football as they can at club level and play in massive, important games. Play cup finals or win in leagues. That will happen.
“You see the players and the clubs they are at the minute and the more experiences they go through good and bad, will bring them on as players and characters.
“One thing for me is having ability and the other half is having the experience and being the man. That happens over time. We talked in the last tournament about how young the squad was and that happens over time.”
And while it has been a chastening 12 months since England last played Germany, Cahill feels the Three Lions are in a better place now than when they went Berlin.
On a personal level, the 31-year-old also feels like he is improving at Chelsea – something Southgate has noticed in the defender’s game under the tutelage of Antonio Conte.
“When we’ve played German teams, they just have that belief in the way they play,” the England boss said.
“I’m watching Gary on the ball now and he’s got that belief and confidence from the way he has been asked to play this year.
“You are working in a different system and opening your mind, Gary working with Antonio reminds me of what Terry (Venables) gave me as a player, just stretching you into different challenges and doing things that improve you.
“We won’t get there overnight but I think we’ve got players who are able to do that.”