Johannesburg: Germany and England go head to
head for a place in the World Cup quarterfinals on Sunday, both
trying to ignore the hype that always surrounds their clashes
on the football field.
Both sets of players are concentrating fully on the
second-round match in Bloemfontein rather than the political
and military rivalry dredged up - particularly by the English
tabloid press - whenever they meet.
"It`s high time to forget (World War II)," Germany coach
Joachim Loew said. "This is year 2010, we are all in the EU
and it`s highly inappropriate to raise this subject."
The teams have enough history on the field to overshadow
such facile discussion, anyway.
Since England`s contentious 4-2 extra-time win over
Germany in the 1966 World Cup final, Germany has won five of
the 11 major tournament finals it has reached. England can
count only semifinal appearances in the 1990 World Cup and
1996 European Championship, and lost both in shootouts to
"This is year 2010 and these games will not mean very
much," Germany captain Philipp Lahm said. "We were not born
England goalkeeper David James said his teammates have
enough to think about as they prepare for a team that
dismantled Australia 4-0, stumbled against Serbia, then beat
"There will be a lot of external references and
historical references but for us it`s a game against a decent
outfit and we have to win to progress," James said.
The teams have not met at a major tournament for a decade
but Loew said his team knows exactly what to expect.
"England is always England. It`s team with a lot of
fighting spirit and very strong mentally, with incredible
experience," Loew said. "The axis with John Terry, Frank
Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney has the highest
quality you can find in European football."
Rooney should have recovered from the ankle knock that
forced his second-half withdrawal against Slovenia.
Germany`s s biggest injury worry is Bastian
Schweinsteiger, who sustained a right-thigh injury in the 1-0
win over Ghana. Schweinsteiger carried more midfield
responsibility in this tournament due to the bsence of injured
regular captain Michael Ballack.
Loew said there was a "very big question mark" behind the
midfielder for Sunday`s game, with Toni Kroos the most likely
replacement. Defender Jerome Boateng is also likely to miss
the game because of a calf injury, but striker Miroslav Klose
is available after sitting out of Ghana match with suspension.
England has not shown its quality so far at the
tournament, laboring to draws against the United States and
Algeria before edging unheralded Slovenia 1-0 to squeeze into
the next round.
England coach Fabio Capello said the Slovenia win
rekindled the spirit of their impressive qualification
campaign and believes they have no reason to fear any team,
even one against which they have such a checkered history.
"When people look at what`s happened over the years, all
you remember is losing to Germany on penalties, but this is a
different game and a different team," said striker Jermain
Defoe, who scored in Wednesday`s 1-0 win over Slovenia. "It`s
about having a clear head. Forget about what happened before
While Germany has not missed a penalty in a World Cup
shootout since Uli Stielike`s saved effort against France in
1982, England has consistently failed in shootouts at major
tournaments. Besides the two losses to Germany, England also
lost to Argentina and twice to Portugal on spotkicks.
With that dismal record in mind, coach Fabio Capello has
ended training sessions by making his players practice
penalties. Loew said Germany was also likely to practice
penalties in case the teams end up level. The teams drew 1-1
at the 1990 World Cup and Euro 96 and Loew is leaving nothing
Loew and Lahm said it was good for Germany`s young team
to have been in a virtual make-or-break situation against
Ghana because it was similar to a knockout game experience.
Germany came through that test with a 1-0 win at Soccer
City, but England overcame a similar hurdle by beating
Slovenia. England could easily have scored more but its
failure to rack up a bigger win meant that it finished second
in Group A to set up the meeting with Germany instead of
Germany beat England 1-0 in the home team`s last ever
match at the old Wembley Stadium in 2000 and repeated the feat
seven years later to hand England its first loss at the
England won the teams` most recent meeting 2-1 in
November 2008 but that was a friendly, and even in the major
tournaments, England`s wins over Germany arguably counted for
little. England beat Germany 1-0 at the 2000 European
Championship but both sides were knocked out in the
first-round group stage.
England famously thrashed Germany 5-1 win in Munich in
2001, and went on to qualify for the 2002 World Cup ahead of
their old rivals, but Germany qualified via a playoff and
reached the final, while England lost to 10-man Brazil two
"If you look at the potential road to the final, the idea
of beating Germany is romantic and it`s an achievable goal,"
James said. "And it will bring on another match (Argentina)
which will have its own historical significance."