Sunday, June 27, 2010

Germany vs England - Preview


14:00 GMT, June 27, 2010
Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa

When England face Germany on Sunday, one of the greatest footballing rivalries will be renewed.

English fans have long been accustomed to defeat to Germany - or rather West Germany - but the clash of the old foes never fails to get the heartbeat racing. On Sunday in Bloemfontein, England have a chance to end years of disappointment by adding to a rich history of one of football's classic fixtures.

The spectre of penalties will loom large over the England players, having suffered semi-final defeats on spot-kicks to a German team at both the 1990 World Cup and Euro 96, not to mention England's unenviable position of having the worst record on penalties in world football. But if England are to continue a run of form which sees them unbeaten against Germany in three meetings on foreign soil then the focus must be on winning the match, and not any shootout.
The history between the two nations is well documented, with England's one and only World Cup win coming against West Germany at Wembley in 1966. The Germans had the Indian sign over England for 34 years, including a showdown at the 1970 World Cup, a draw at the 1982 World Cup and those infamous shootouts, before England finally gained a competitive victory over Germany at Euro 2000.
The days of Germany ruling the roost over England now seem to be a thing of the past, with England winning 5-1 in Munich in a World Cup qualifier in 2001 and coming away victorious from Berlin in an international friendly in November 2008. Germany have also had their share of success in that time, though, so there is every reason to suggest this game will be a tight affair.

Competition Stats

GoalsMiroslav Klose 1Steven Gerrard 1
AssistsThomas Müller 2
YellowsThomas Müller 1Jamie Carragher 2
RedsMiroslav Klose 1

Germany player to watch: Miroslav Klose. Second only to Gerd Muller in Germany's all-time scoring chart, Klose went into the finals with questions to answer after a dismal season with Bayern Munich. A goal in the first game against Australia relieved some of the pressure but he was then controversially sent off against Serbia. England have yet to face a quality forward yet in the finals, with Robert Green's gaffe against USA the only goal conceded, and despite Klose's troubles, he is a tournament performer and his display could be the difference.
England player to watch: Jermain Defoe. With only one goal against a major nation, and that being in an international friendly against Netherlands, questions remain over Defoe's pedigree on the biggest of stages. Goals against Andorra, Kahzakstan and Trinidad & Tobago and all well and good, but Germany will not allow the same time and space. His match-winning performance against Slovenia provided a timely boost, and his ability to shake off the shackles of the German back line may shape England's hopes.
Key battle: Germany's left-back v James Milner. The fact that we do not know if Badstuber, Boateng, Jansen or even Lahm will play on the left for Germany must pose problems for Low's organisation at the back. After playing like a rabbit in the headlights against USA, Milner was dangerous on the wing against Slovenia and provided the cross for Defoe to guide home the winner. If Milner can again impress, up against Germany's "problem position", England's forwards may have plenty to feed off.
Trivia: Paul the Octopus is the sensation of Germany, correctly predicting all the team's results at this World Cup - including the Serbia defeat. He picked Germany for this game.
Stats: England have played Germany four times at the World Cup, and each game has finished level after 90 minutes, with three extending to extra-time and one being decided on penalty kicks. England have taken 29 corners so far in the World Cup - more than any other team after the end of the group stage.
Odds: Germany (2.87), the draw (3.20) and England (2.62) with Bet365. Germany to win on penalties is 9.50 and England 10.00.
Prediction: A tough one to call, and perhaps the availability of Schweinsteiger could prove the difference between these teams.

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