It is the moment of truth for Fabio Capello and England as they take on Germany in what can only be described as 90 minutes of nail-biting for England fans. That doesn’t in any way mean that the game isn’t equally scary for a Germany fan, just that England fans seem to believe more in the so-called great historic rivalry between the two teams. The bragging rights that an England win bestows upon us are just so mouth-watering, that I for one am very happy that if we go on to win this World Cup, it will by beating Germany on the way.
Of the 27 times that the two teams have met, England have won 12 times, Germany 10 times while 5 of those meetings ended in a draw. However, this is only the fifth time that the two are meeting in the World Cup with their last encounter in the 1990 Semifinals ending in a win for West Germany.
England’s World Cup seemed all but over when they drew their first two group matches, however a win in their last match against Slovenia saw them qualify for the last 16 as runners’ up of Group C. The confidence in the England squad will be somewhat restored after their last performance. However, if past performances are anything to go by, it is easy to see that England seem to have a strange phobia of playing Germany or any big European nation. They have failed to reach the final of the World Cup and the only teams England have manged to beat in the knockout stages in the last 44 years are Paraguay, Belgium, Cameroon, Ecuador and Denmark. Today, England need to forget about the past, the historic significance of the collision, their wretched record against the Germans and just go play their game.
Fabio Capello will most likely go with 4-4-2 formation with Wayne Rooney and Jermaine Defoe leading England’s attack. England will put out an almost unchanged side with Matthew Upson expected to retain his place at centre-half, despite Jamie Carragher’s return from suspension, with Ledley King on the bench. David James will once again start in goal for England with John Terry, Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole making up the rest of England’s defense. Capello will depend on the creativity of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, James Milner and Gareth Barry in midfield.
Germany started off their World Cup campaign in great form with a 4-0 win over Australia. They seem to have lost their form in the last 2 matches and will be desperate to fire on all engines against England. They welcome back Miroslav Klose who was suspended for their last game but have lost Cacau to an abdominal muscle tear. Germany also have injury concerns with Bastian Schweinsteiger(hamstring) and Jerome Boateng (calf), however both the players did train with the team yesterday and will most likely feature in today’s game.
Germany lost their first choice goal-keeper René Adler, first-choice centre-back Heiko Westermann, the two holding midfielders from the Euro 2008 final, Simon Rolfes and Thomas Hitzlsperger and their captain Michael Ballack to injuries ahead of the World Cup. This lead to the Germany manager Joachim Loew coming to the 2010 World Cup with Germany’s youngest squad since 1935, with an average age of just under 25. The German team is almost unrecognisable from the one that lost to Spain in Euro 2008 and of them only Lucas Podolski, Miroslav Klose and Per Mertesacker keep their original positions. Many of the new comers in the team like Thomas Muller and Sami Khedira were second or third choice even at their clubs.
Joachim Loew will most likely go with a 4-3-3 formation with Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Muller up front. Bastian Schweinsteiger will control Germany’s midfield with Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira. Manuel Neuer, who is in fact a third-choice keeper (after Adler and Robert Enke) for Germany will be supported by Phillip Lahm, Arne Friedrich, Per Mertesacker and Holger Badstuber at the back.
Joachim Loew’s team lacks experience, with only 40 caps between Mesut Ozil, Jerome Boateng, Sami Khedira and Thomas Muller while England’s two youngest starters today in James Milner and Wayne Rooney, have 73 caps between them. If England ever had a chance of beating Germany, it is today.
Insanity or Fact?
Fans being fans have their own way of predicting whether their team will win. In Germany, they have a psychic octopus who predicts Germany’s results eating a mussel from one of two jars, one with a Germany flag in it and the the other with the opposition flag. The octopus predicted 70% of Germany’s results during the 2008 European Championship and it looks like he has improved on his skills this World Cup. The eight-legged genius predicted Germany’s win over Australia and Ghana and get this, Germany’s loss to Serbia!
His call for today’s game is a harsh Germany win, even harsher considering the Octopus was born in England.
England fans don’t want to leave the prediction to the whims and fancies of an Octopus and instead try and gauge who will win the match through the more-reliable, more efficient means - a computer. The Mirror have a computer which uses world-renowned databases and the most accurate match engine to simulate games. The computer says, England will win 3-2 with a goal from Wayne Rooney and a brace from Steven Gerrard of England. According to this computer, Thomas Mueller and Bastian Schweinsteiger will find the net for Germany.
So, today is not just a contest between England and Germany but also the day an Octopus takes on a Computer!
“Both teams go into the game with a certain amount of respect. There will be no fear from us and not from the English.” – Joachim Loew, Germany manager
“We have to beat the big teams, and Germany are one of those.” – Fabio Capello, England manager
Stars to Watch Out For
England: Jermaine Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard
Germany: Miroslav Klose, Thomas Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger
England have taken 29 corners from their opening three matches, the most by any team in the tournament so far.
Germany’s defeat by Serbia in the group stage was their first in the opening round of a World Cup since 1986.