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Oh. England. If only beer could help them beat Germany. One thinks that beer probably wasn’t the catalyst in beating Slovenia (who, after contriving to beat themselves against USA the game before, needed little excuse to implode), and if England play like they did against Slovenia they’re unlikely to go past the second round.
That’s not to say that they didn’t play well – they did, but while that level would have sufficed for the group stages, it’s a different ball game where knockout games against big teams are concerned.
There’s a good reason why the likes of Germany, Italy and Brazil boss international football – their teams have it in their DNA to give 100% on the pitch, every single time they step on it. They tend to raise their game for a big stage, and while we’ve seen Germany be bossed on the pitch in finals in the last decade, we’ve also seen them perform consistently well in international tournaments at a higher level than England have aspired to, even under Capello in the qualifying stages.
Forget the England-German rivalry (seriously, ignore Low, forget the England-Germany rivalry), there will hardly be any time for that to register, even though the tabs will do their best to dredge it up again. England need this to be a strong, imposing performance devoid of defensive mistakes. Germany, on the other hand, could easily sit back and wait for England to slip up, or push forward and force errors. Having seen recent England-Germany friendlies, I’m sure it will be the latter, and that will make for a cracking, old-fashioned slugfest.
If England are going to have any hope of this they have to get out of their funk and realise that they are at a World Cup. The lackadaisical nature of their play suggests they think they are still playing in Germany four years ago. As Franz Beckenbauer said “stupidly, the English have slipped up and finished second in their group”. Unlike Italy and France, England advanced from their made to win group. Their best players thus far have been Steven Gerrard and John Terry, and that’s about it.
This should even play out like Germany four years ago, with England finally coming alive with the meeting of some decent opposition, this time the Mannschaft replacing Portugal. If an improved side don’t turn up, I expect Germany to make sure this goes nowhere near penalties. Germany have so far proved admirable, progressive and excellent, and their defeat was simply unlucky. Their defence is forward thinking as well which is possibly their undoing.
They have a nice mix of international experience and youthful quality, and their trump card Mesut Oezil. I heard he was supposed to be good, but seeing him is different. He has been one of the best players at this tournament, with a smart brain, great ability, he ripped Australia to shreds and as seen against Ghana, capable of the beautiful.
England of course, have the Rooney factor. He so far has resembled a man who has no idea how to play football, much has been made of his relationship with Capello and all the other “strains” on the English team, that they only suffer from unlike anybody else. But Rooney is the key to English victory, he is all blood and guts and if he gets going, his genius may well shine.
If England go on to knock out Germany, I expect them to perform at a high level for any remaining games they have. It’s too hard to call, Germany will beat England depending on their attitude, an on form and determined Rooney can break any defence however, but Germany have Ozil, who could be as good as Zidane though a bit different, and of course both teams have more than just supporting players.
As we haven’t seen any change in England (beating Slovenia is nothing to get carried away over) I’ll have to go for Germany. Either way, it will be an interesting match.
Just kick the ball upfield and run then, right?
England v Germany Betting Tip
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Also See: Soccerlens’ 2010 World Cup Second Round Preview.