Germany vs England – Match Preview
By Ross Mackiewicz.
What a difference a win can make. This time last week the English nation were contemplating the possibility of being eliminated from the FIFA World Cup after two very drab and uninspiring performances against the USA and Algeria. There was no dynamic or cutting edge from the England team along with an uncharacteristic lack of heart and belief. The English people have become accustomed to the sight of their players playing with passion and pride but none of these attributes were being showcased by the Three Lions as their dream of lifting their second World Cup was becoming more and more distant.
Nothing less than a victory against Slovenia would have been worthy. It was a do or die situation where anything less would have seen Fabio Capello’s men return home in disgrace, but did they stand up and be counted, of course they did. England bounced back with an impressive turnaround as the 1966 winners finally started believing in themselves and played like probable contenders for the 18 carat gold prize. The introduction of James Milner and Jermaine Defoe added that much needed sparkle to the side as both players lived up to their billing. It was in fact those two who created England’s one and only vital goal as Milner teed up his colleague with a peach of a cross which was subsequently finished with an instinctive touch by the Tottenham striker. Despite a few scares here and there England set out what they needed to do as the players embraced one another at the end of the game to show the world their solidarity. England has arrived at last but who dares stand in their way of vanquishing their newly built belief, the old foe, Germany.
Ever since Franz Beckenbauer publically criticised the English style of play it has seemed increasingly likely that the two would end up meeting at some point during the competition. It may very well have been destiny after all but England will be hoping for the fairytale ending.
Fabio Capello was delighted with how his team finally proved that the 4-4-2 formation can work and that their abilities on the field are beginning to flourish. Matthew Upson partnered John Terry against Slovenia and done a fairly solid shift and even made a vital interception in the dyeing moments of the game to deny the opponents gaining an equaliser. Both Terry and Upson partnered each other against Germany in the fall of 2008 as both got on the score sheet to register a 1-2 victory. That night in Berlin silenced many doubters questioning Upson’s international credentials as he went onto play a huge part in the qualification campaign. Capello’s dilemma now is to decide whether or not to continue with the West Ham star alongside John Terry or reintroduce Ledley King who has finally recovered a groin injury which he picked up in Rustenburg against the USA. Jamie Carragher is also back in contention after serving his one match ban. The England manager has remained coy over his preferred choice.
“He (Ledley King) was training normally with the other players. I’m really happy.” said Capello.
“I will have to decide the player who plays with John Terry. Upson, Carragher and King have played well but I have to choose.”
James Milner was absolutely tremendous last Wednesday as he played an integral part in England’s victory. His high work rate accompanied with his pin point crossing and passing ability was entirely evident in the one-nil victory. He came in for Aaron Lennon who has been disappointing thus far in South Africa which is largely down to him not having a finished product at the end of his play. For all his pace and trickery he hardly carved out a clear cut chance for his colleagues in his previous two outings unlike the Villa man who now looks a certainty for a starting place in the last sixteen clash. Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry are more than likely to complement each other once again in the middle of the park with Steven Gerrard cutting in from the left hand side.
Jermain Defoe looks to set to partner Wayne Rooney once again who finally ended the hoodoo of them both failing to as a partnership. Defoe came in for Emile Heskey precisely for his predator instincts in front of goal as well as his swift movement and pace which certainly made England look more threatening up top. Rooney is yet to open his goal scoring account thus far in South Africa which has led to criticism from certain parts of the media. The Germans will be fearful of the aura and abilities the United man possesses as he looks to terrorise Friedrich and Mertesacker in the centre of their defence. It may just be a case of when will Rooney open his tally rather than if?
Joachim Lowe’s Germany has had an indifferent tournament so far. They bamboozled Australia in their opening game crushing the Aussies 4-0 with some wonderfully crafted football as their front three of Klose, Muller and Podolski worked in tandem with one another. They were defeated in the second game against Serbia after Miroslav Klose was sent off for two dubious cautions. They failed to recover after going a goal down and even Lukas Podolski failed to dispatch a penalty in the second half. They cemented qualification in their final fixture against Ghana thanks to a stupendous finish from Mesut Oezil who has been one of their stars in the tournament so far. The 21 year old has demonstrated his technical attributes as well as working in conjunction with the German front three. Fabio Capello and Franco Baldini would have been encouraged to see just how many chances the Germans conceded to the Africans which on another day may have seen a comprehensive Ghanaian victory. This is a young German side but nevertheless it’s packed to the rafters with youthful exuberance and bags of technical ability.
Former German captain Michael Ballack played four years of his trade in England with Chelsea before being released by the London outfit last week has been giving his German coach the lowdown on the English side. The 33 year old would have been the figure head once again for his national team but was cruelly dealt an injury blow in the FA Cup final last month which subsequently ended his World Cup aspirations. Low has turned to his stricken captain for some well needed advice.
“I talked with Michael Ballack many times about the English family and the Premier League players.”
“We especially talked about individuals, like Lampard, and he gave me an inside view.”
“It is safe to say we have up-to date info. We know a great deal about Lampard and all his colleagues. We also watch English football on German TV.”
The Germans however are sweating on the fitness of Bastian Schweinsteiger after he picked up a thigh injury in the one-nil victory against Ghana. However The Team will be encouraged that he may very end up participating after all after completing a full training session with his team mates on Saturday. He does face a race against time to start the match but may very well end up warming the bench and be ready to be called upon if needed. One player who is definitely ruled out is Brazilian born Cacau who has endured a problem to his stomach during a training session. Jermome Boateng is also doubtful after sustaining a calf injury.
Whatever happens you get the feeling this going to be an all time classic. When has a German Anglo clash ever failed to live up to the billing competitively? England has the experience but the energetic Germans will certainly cause a problem or two for Capello’s men. The English back four will have to be wary of Germany’s front three who have already shown their understanding at the top of field with a dangerous Miroslav Klose closing in on compatriot Gerd Muller’s World Cup goal scoring record. Bloemfontein will be a sea of red, white, yellow and black as we anticipate one of the biggest games in recent times for both nations. 1966, 1970, 1990, 1996 and now 2010 is bound to be the latest classic added to the archives.
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