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Capello in no mood for messing under the big top

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Phil McNulty | 21:00 UK time, Saturday, 26 June 2010

World Cup 2010: Bloemfontein

The circus has rolled into town. And so have England and Germany ahead of the latest chapter in their story of World Cup combat.

In what could be taken for either a sick joke or a cruel history lesson in the past failings of England's footballers, posters for "The McLaren Circus - full 90-minute show" greeted their arrival in South Africa's Free State.

The circus was doing brisk business, while Joachim Loew and Fabio Capello provided a sideshow of their own just a few miles down the road.

Germany coach Loew did not bother to turn up for the pre-match press conference while England counterpart Fabio Capello and captain Steven Gerrard's address ahead of arguably the World Cup's most anticipated game to date clocked in at a few seconds over five minutes. Their hasty exit later prompted loud complaints from sections of the world's media.

The exchanges were brief, or in Loew's case non-existent, but were heavily laced with psychological significance.

Capello was in no mood to hang around on the eve of the clash against arch rivlas Germany

Loew's absence was initially put down as a German protest against being unable to train on the Free State Stadium pitch - a claim swiftly denied by their camp and simply put down to a scheduling difficulty.

The German coach's absence was explained by the wildly contrasting theories that he was either arrogant or running scared. The truth probably lay elsewhere.

Intriguingly, Germany found time to whistle up goalkeeping coach Andreas Kopke to share his thoughts on a variety of issues, include the hot topic of penalties and England's ability to take them under pressure as opposed to practising.

Kopke was a handy man for Loew to have around, as he was none other than the keeper who saved Gareth Southgate's decisive penalty at Wembley that eased Germany's passage into the Euro 96 final.

Kopke helpfully pointed out that all England's practising behind closed doors at Rustenburg would not help them in the potential pressure-cooker atmosphere of a shoot-out on Sunday - and with that he was gone to leave the stage clear for Capello.

Capello was in clipped and businesslike mood, with Gerrard slightly more effusive. Words were not wasted. It was also read as the Italian's curt response to his counterpart's decision not to even pitch up.

The England party's hasty departure was poorly received by many sections of the media, although the Football Association was swift to point out that they had followed Fifa guidelines to the letter. Loew did not, although he gave a lengthy briefing on Friday.

This somewhat surreal prelude to the main event clearly scratched at tensions in both camps that lie close to the surface ahead of the meeting in Bloemfontein, as well as causing some unrest among those who had descended on the "City Of Roses" hanging on every word from Loew and Capello.

The mood was more heavyweight weigh-in than pre-World Cup media conference. And if the game itself contains as much intrigue in as little time as we saw under the big white tent in Bloemfontein, then this could be a classic.

Of course Kopke's appearance could have been mere coincidence. Cometh the hour cometh the goalkeeping coach. But if England wanted to see one of the ghosts of failures past against Germany there he was, larger than life in front of them before the biggest game of Capello's reign to date.

If England were using a scare tactic of their own in among the mind games, it was to warn the German camp that Wayne Rooney's World Cup is showing signs of catching fire.

Capello and Gerrard issued more warnings about his form behind closed doors in training, a fact England are only too happy to let seep into the German psyche, backed up by glowing references for a player who has yet to sparkle in South Africa.

Rooney, inevitably, will be central to all of England's hopes of redressing the balance of recent World Cup history against Germany. The camp must be taken at its word when they deliver ominous bulletins in the direction of the opposition about his resurgence, but he did suggest an upturn in form was on the way in patches against Slovenia,

Capello knows the history of this fixture, but is treating it with supreme indifference in the context of Sunday's meeting. And he continued to hammer out the message of his confidence in an England team that finally showed signs of coming to life in the win against Slovenia that put them in the knockout phase.

England's players have delivered a blaze of optimistic statements in the build up to a game that has captured the imagination of this vast nation, but it must be tempered by the fact that their great victory of this World Cup has been against the smallest country taking part.

Capello revealed he has only one selection decision to make. He has to decide who partners John Terry in defence - should he go for the man in possession Matthew Upson, Jamie Carragher after serving a one-match ban, or fit-again Ledley King?

The recall of King after a groin injury would represent a major gamble, given that this gifted but injury-prone player lasted only 45 minutes of the first game against the United States before being forced to give best to yet another problem.

Germany, even a young team in transition, represent a huge task and will require England to move their performance on to another plane from what we have seen from them so far.

Kopke, Loew's mouthpiece for the night, made a bold declaration that would have been echoed by the coach. Germany's players may be shorter on experience than England's but "they have itchy feet for this game."

Bastian Schweinsteiger is expected to shake off his thigh injury to play, a major lift for Loew, while Miroslav Klose is in line to return after suspension.

And Bloemfontein has entered into the spirit of the occasion, elated at landing one of the glamour ties of this World Cup.

Salesmen lurk at traffic lights brandishing flags in the colours of both nations attempting to guess, mainly unsuccessfully it would appear, which country the occupants of oncoming cars support in the hope of making a sale.

No hard-sell is needed for what will take place in the Free State Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The rich history of England and Germany when they meet at the World Cup provides the perfect sales pitch.

You can follow me at and join me on Facebook.

And you can watch and listen to Germany v England live across the BBC from 1400 BST on BBC1/HD and BBC Radio 5 live and on this website.


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  • Comment number 1.

    LOL - "England comedy club - full 90-minute show."

    Germany to triumph again, I think...

  • Comment number 2.

    More importantly, the game at hand.

    Thought Ghana played well, found their form again in extra time.

    Arguably they were fortunate to draw the weakest team in the last 16 - but of course, "you can only beat what's put in front of you".

    Credit to them - good to see the last african side in the tournament scrape through. Wpuld that have been the first time the "home" continent had no representatives in the 1/4 finals?

  • Comment number 3.

    England were lucky to avoid Uraguay and Ghana, I would have chosen a weak German side anytime. keep onzil out o the game and we win. Like a lot of teams the Germans are good upfront but nowhere else. I expect a comfortable England win.

  • Comment number 4.

    Forza England: this is within your grasp and for many players the last chance to play at WC level!

    May the best team win, but I'll be definitely supporting you and my fellow countryman!

    Regardless of the outcome, I hope the FA will then focus their efforts on the next generation of players and get less foreign ones in your Premier League, or in 4 years time you'll end up like Italy and France.

    All the best! :)

  • Comment number 5.


  • Comment number 6.

    Yet again, another analysis that England rely so much on Rooney.
    I don't like it!

  • Comment number 7.

    I am English and desparate for us to win the world cup.

    However there is a world order when it comes to international football and England are not in the elite. Club football is largely irrelevant. England don't have the mental strength or the technical ability. It has been proved over and over again.

    Final will be between Brazil and either Germany or Argentina.

    And the gutter press in England are a national disgrace.

  • Comment number 8.

    Wayne Rooney is going to huff and puff but nothing will come of it. If he is England's best hope of proceeding to the quarter finals, then they can as well look forward to a flight back to Heathrow on Monday afternoon. FC should get some guts and bench him and use Crouch and Defoe upfront. I mean Crouch's record in an England shirt of recent is way better than Rooney's or Heskey.

  • Comment number 9.

    #3 "Like a lot of teams the Germans are good upfront but nowhere else. I expect a comfortable England win."

    Are you being ironic? Only a fool would write off the Germans. They are masters of tournament football and teamwork. Fabio and co will have their work cut out and no mistake. German TV, by the way, fear only one man. Rooney.

  • Comment number 10.

    Forget the history - Lets make this a great game in 2010.

    We all want to beat each other so badly.

    Impossible to guess, but England need to go up a gear and perform to their maximum ability.

  • Comment number 11.

    A lot of the focus has been on Ozil but if I were Capello I would be very worried about Podoloski's pace around the back of an aging defence.

    I feel they will try to isolate Podolski against Johnson not with the ball, but making runs behind him on that channel. Ozil will look to get him in the clear with through balls and little 1-2s on the edge of the box. I dont think Johnson has the pace to cope with him!

  • Comment number 12.

    England tied the US; Germany beat Ghana, while the US was defeated by Ghana. What does that tell us about tomorrow?

  • Comment number 13.

    Great Blog
    Ghana looked good but I'm still annoyed that we failed to score another against Slovenia since that side of the draw (Uraguay, South Africa, USA & Ghana) is very week

    Phil, can you add my blog to the 'other football blogs' area?

  • Comment number 14.

    England underdogs - certainly; can England win? Yes. But they'll have to do it in the 1st half because Germany will be much fitter than the English team.

  • Comment number 15.

    12. At 11:24pm on 26 Jun 2010, Sloan wrote:

    England tied the US; Germany beat Ghana, while the US was defeated by Ghana. What does that tell us about tomorrow?

    Absolutely nothing!

  • Comment number 16.

    Football is more theatre than sport - look at France, and Germany are merely an obstacle en route to England meeting Diego Maradona's Argentina for some really unfinished business of Shakespearean proportions.

  • Comment number 17.

    It's time for the England players to step up and play a decent game of football. England has a decent record against a stronger Germany than the current squad, there is no need to fear Germany, but they deserve a large modicum of respect, but no more.

    Tighten up at the back and run the German back line ragged and we'll see how good they are. This team is very definitely beatable, it just requires a greater degree of concentration than England usually deploy.

    Heads up lads, and give them a bloody good run for their money!

  • Comment number 18.

    cant wait for the game tomorow, even though the english have made much more of it than it would serve, i hope england wins but boy i love the way the germs play , if only england could move the ball around half as much.....

    as an african i was certaily delighted to see ghana progress, i felt sorry for the yanks though, now i really fancy ghana's chances against uruguay.

  • Comment number 19.

    It strikes me that the Germans are already hoping for penalties - if so, England have won the psychological battle already.

    Putting up Kopke up was an obvious attempt to remind England of their failings at penalties in an attempt to unsettle them, but to me it smacks of Germany running scared.

    Are they already worried they can't win in normal time? If I was an England player I would take it as a big sign that the Germans are very nervous.

  • Comment number 20.



  • Comment number 21.

    So will some posters be complaining or praising Rooney for not singing the ditty in honour of the German Queen??

  • Comment number 22.

    13. At 11:25pm on 26 Jun 2010, Ben wrote:
    Great Blog
    Ghana looked good but I'm still annoyed that we failed to score another against Slovenia since that side of the draw (Uraguay, South Africa, USA & Ghana) is very week

    Phil, can you add my blog to the 'other football blogs' area?
    FourThreeThree- www.xxxxx.blogspot


    How good is football blog written by a guy who confuses South Africa with South Korea really going to be?



  • Comment number 23.

    Sorry phil but not your best mate. Come on England. I was going for US today and disappointed they did not do better. Ghana could have been tested a bit more on their left I think. Hopefully Emgland can do it tomorrow bur its a big, big game and England don't do too well when there is so much pressure. Just avoid Penalties please.

  • Comment number 24.

    Good match, but Ghana will need more team play than individual dashes to beat Uruguay. The USA played under pressure the entire first half before applying the pressure for the remainder. They NEED a finisher...and perhaps a bit more pace.

    One reason you don't see as much dramatic flopping around on the ground with the US is the scorn such actions create. IF a US player is stretchered off the field for being "tripped", it isn't viewed as "heroic" at all...quite the opposite, and I concur.

    Tomorrow's match will be difficult, but Germany does not appear to be as dominant as expected. Of course, England didn't manage to win the group so both sides have been a bit wanting. The Germans have had the stronger attack with crisper passing but England has the heart to win this in my opinion. I see this as going either of two ways, a dismal 3-1 or 4-1 defeat as the German attack exposes the lack of pace in key defenders OR a gutty 1-0 or 2-1 counterattacking result as England holds on in quiet desperation. Germany should control the match in either event.

    Nobody beats Argentina.

  • Comment number 25.

    Mark my words - WORST GERMAN TEAM FOR TIME!! We will crush them.

  • Comment number 26.

    What is this hype about "Rooney is ready to score, Rooney will terrorise the Germany defence, Rooney Rooney Roony"

    Now Can any English tell me when did Rooney score for England last time if you answer, then please cut the bragging about Rooney please.

    What has England Manged in this world Cup thats put their hopes high? a scrappy 1 nil against Slovenia!!!!! Please give me a break.

    England when faced with a little tougher team they tend to draw or loose a case in eg. Feb 09 Spain 2 Eng 0, Aug 09 Ned 2 Eng 2, Nov 09 Bra 1 Eng 0 WC 2010 USA 1 Eng 1, Alg 0 Eng 0. and in all of these Roonet also did not find the net.

  • Comment number 27.

    And Englan even if you Pass Germany, You will not smell Semi Final as you are nothing to Argentina Or Mexico

  • Comment number 28.

    History bla bla
    When it comes down to history and tourneys, if we don't count 1966 when we forced Eusebio&Co to come to London in a unique change of game stadium two days before the game, only Portugal should be feared (1986, 2000, 2004, 2006).

    England to beat Germany and face Portugal in the semis.

  • Comment number 29.

    It is a real shame that such a big tie is being held in Bloemfontain, one of the worst venues of the world cup. Even the smaller stadiums such as Nelspruit and Polokwane are much better.

    As for the game, England have the players to win, but Rooney needs to deliver. His composure in all 3 games has been shocking, and he needs to snap out of his troubles.

    Ledley King has to start if he's fully fit. Good positionally and has a bit of pace. He's also good in the air. I wouldn't risk Carragher because it might take him a while to get up to speed, and Upson is merely the back up. Apart from that it looks as if we've found some good combinations. Milner and Johnson make a lot more sense on the right than Lennon and Johnson. Milner is really good at tracking back and covering, not to mention the fact that he has a physicality that Lennon doesn't have, and can tackle. Perhaps Lennon will be a useful substitute against a tiring defence if given good guidance by Capello, as he is mighty quick.

    Gerrard will have to be disciplined, and the midfield will have to work ultra hard, but if England get their game sorted, there is no reason why they can't win. Germany are clearly a good team, but defensively they are not as strong as England, their midfield is good if slightly inexperienced, and I'm convinced their attack of Muller, Klose and Podolski can be nulified. Klose and Podolski have both been relegated by Bayern Munich and while they are very good international strikers, they are not world beaters. Muller is young and has no pace so he shouldn't really be a problem.

    Of course their midfield is neat and tidy, with Ozil obviously being the pick of their boys, but if the 4 in midfield can tuck in and at least get physical with them, they should enjoy the battle.

    James, Johnson, Terry, King, Cole, Milner, Lampard, Barry, Gerrard, Defoe, Rooney.

  • Comment number 30.

    Thank God for the Vuvuzelas! I hope that they are out in force again today at England's match. They might well emit a loud, constant, fearful and monotonous drone but at least they serve a higher purpose. The fact is that up to now, thankfully, the vuvuzelas have drowned out the God-Awful collection of England camp-following daydreamers who think they are musicians and who seem to think they have a divine right to ruin the first 8 bars of a few half-famous movie theme tunes. None of them can actually play their instruments and they are a total embarrassment to the country. All they can do is to endlessly repeat the same few bars like a tape loop or a cracked record. Don't encourage them! Up to now it is Vuvuzelas - 3 England's Tin Pot Band - 0!

  • Comment number 31.

    I do worry about the Press obsession with how big a country's population is in relation to it's success at football.

    Because if you follow that theory - China with over a billion will be walking through tournaments unopposed - sounds stupid when you put it that way, doesn't it?

  • Comment number 32.

    "England tied the US; Germany beat Ghana, while the US was defeated by Ghana. What does that tell us about tomorrow?"

    What a great calculation Sloane. Oh, but hang on, Serbia beat Germany, then lost to Ghana and Australia. So both Australia and Ghana are better than Germany. Also, Slovenia drew with the US and England beat Slovenia so that makes us better than the US. Oh but wait, the US beat Algeria and England only drew with Algeria so that must make the US better than England...could you explain your theory again please?

  • Comment number 33.

    @ Sloan (12) Yes, and New Zealand beat Serbia, then Serbia beat Germany, so what does that tell you about Germany? Schoolboy logic doesn't hold water when it comes to football. The US beat no-1 ranked Spain last year, so surely the US were the best team in the world in 2009, right? No. They lost to Brazil the next game.

    I'm tired of reading the same cliche comments with people calling England "mentally weak", etc. At Euro 96, we lost 6-5 on pens. ONE player missed a penalty after 5 had scored, and this somehow indicates some sort of weak national psyche? It's ridiculous.

    Players do not have long and illustrious careers in the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, etc if they are 'mentally weak'. They said the same about our Olympics team after 1996, when Britain won a single gold medal. The solution was to pump lots of money into sports, and hey presto, we're 4th on the medals table in 2008. Did this money somehow change our national mentality?

    The fact is that this world cup has shown that 9 times out of 10 there is only a single-goal difference between sides, and England v Germany will likely produce more of the same. As such, the game will likely be decided by a single piece of luck, bad call from a referee, or goalkeeping error, and could go either way.

    We have a P4 W3 L1 F8 A3 record against Germany since 2000, and 3 of those games were competitive. That suggests we can quite feasibly beat the Germans.

    The question is: which England will turn up: the one who doninated Croatia and Slovenia, or the one who played Algeria? And which Germany will turn up: the slick machine that destroyed Australia, or the one that imploded against Serbia, complete with red card and missed penalty?

  • Comment number 34.

    More German psychological warfare. The German camp are trying to portray that the game is a mere formality from them to win, which means that they are genuinely worried by England and the injuries within their squad.

    Disappointed that England failed to point out the Germans prophensity for diving, simulation, and sneaky off the ball fouling. Mourhino and Ferguson would have been banging these points home all week, especially highlighting the blatant diving of Ozil versus Australia and Ghana which went unpunished.

    Suspect that there is still a plan down the road for the better teams which calls on the abilities of certain squad members to sacrifice themselves in keeping the likes of Ozil/Mesi/Robinho and probably Podoloski/Tevez/Kaka quiet.

    None of the established England players have had a good game but yet England while playing poorly have still managed to progress. In contrast Germany have played well and their stars have shown polished performances but they were in real danger of been beaten by Ghana if they had been better officiating. There is also the fact that playing an african side physical takes a huge amount out of european teams and usually leads to a dip in subsequent performances (with the short rest period this will be exacerbated).

    The vital factor in this game though will be the officiating of Jorge Larrionda. This will probably end up favouring the technical style of the Germans, and that Ozil will then probably get an England player sent off (one of those who too readily goes to ground making tackles - Barry, Johnson, Upson, King). England though will still need to adapt to the referee to prevent a high free kick count.

    The Germans are expecting James for penalties, and they will prey on his weak right knee during the match and for any shootout. James fails to impose himself and relieve the defence by taking crosses, and also tries to catch rather than punch when punching seems the more effective technique with this ball. Firmly believe that Hart is a much better option in goal for penalty shootouts, and against the probably taller German team on defensive set plays.

    King and Upson are not in genuine contention for the place alongside Terry. That is probably a toss up between Carragher, Dawson, and Barry. Terry though needs to cut out his unnecessary climbing on players tomorrow.

    Upson was slow in the game and not in synchronization with the rest of the defence, often in key moments they were all running to put out the threat when he was stood still deciding what to do next. More worrying still made far too many poor choices during the game, like selling himself too easily on breaks, passing the ball back hard to a keeper on a bad pitch, and in general losing position with the rest of the defence. As for the "match winning" tackle, that was been covered by Ashley Cole and the keeper. A more experienced or clever player will use that type of tackle to gain a free kick, or in that case a penalty.

    King is a complete non-starter. Not only due to the considerable risk of breaking down to some self-inflicted injury and the tactical implications of that, but by genuinely looking off the pace at this level against poorer teams than Germany. Plus will too readily give away free kicks against clever players because he tends to lunge and then leave his leg like a hurdle.

    Carragher was the best central defender in the first two games, pragmatic defender, experienced at this level, works well with Johnson and Gerrard, continually urged James to give the ball out short against Algeria instead of kicking it long, but like Terry is unable to react to the truly quick player or fast break now.

    Dawson is quick, young, was the in form player in the premier league, but lacks experience at this level. Cappelo not talking to certain players in Austria, and then leaving them out of the final squad seems very strange in the circumstances. Maybe this would be more understandable if an FA mandated decision had already been made on which players must go.

    Barry is also an experienced defender, was excellent defensively against Algeria, would give a flexibility to the formation that allows another midfield/attacking player to be selected, but was poor passing in both games.

    If you look at the FIFA heatmaps for Milner and Gerrard, then the first shows a player who has kept to his assigned tasks while Gerrard has failed to do so in all three games. England suffer when Gerrard fails to keep positional discipline and Cappello knows this (maybe that was the reason for making him captain in an attempt to instill responsibility). England would be much more dangerous with wide midfield players that can whip in crosses and cooperate with the corresponding fullback both offensively and defensively. The centre midfield also probably misses having a genuine long passer of the ball in the style of Beckeham, which Rooney can thrive off. Neither of these types of players are the one footed Gerrard. Maybe the best use of Gerrard in this game is either to be the first line of defence against Ozil (granted Gerrard is easily turned inside out by clever players), or simply by shadowing the sitting midfield player forcing the German defence to advance the ball.

    Ultimately England will play this game like a champions league fixture, and that the team put out will not have been seen playing in this tournament by the Germans. Probably Defoe will miss out for Carrick, and then maybe also Joe Cole will get an outing if Barry is pressed into service as a defender.

    Johnson Barry Terry A Cole
    Milner Carrick J Cole
    Gerrard Lampard
    Substitutes: Crouch, Defoe, Lennon, Dawson, Carragher, Heskey

  • Comment number 35.

    re: "12. At 11:24pm on 26 Jun 2010, Sloan wrote:

    England tied the US; Germany beat Ghana, while the US was defeated by Ghana. What does that tell us about tomorrow?"

    It tells us that you don't know a heck of a lot about football.

  • Comment number 36.

    Notasquick - interesting theory. So you would change the goalkeeper again, put Barry in central defence, and leave out the striker who scored our winner in the last game. Anything else? Sack Capello before the match and replace him with Kevin Keegan?

    Come on England!

  • Comment number 37.

    @Sloan - it tells us England didn't peak too early...

    @Jake Hadlee - I am expecting a very defensive Germany performance, they know that penalties is their only chance and are playing up the psychological side. If England play all their pacey players the German defence will struggle to deal with them all. England need to match the Germans for strength and organisation because we've looked shakey at times. But here's hoping we're just hitting form at the right time...

  • Comment number 38.

    2-1 to Germany; its a fact!

  • Comment number 39.

    England's problem is not our players, it's the way Capello plays them. 4-4-2 does not allow enough freedom for the modern game. Even Spain, who have the most talented squad at the world cup, are struggling to break down teams because of their 4-4-2 set up. If England play a flat 4-4-2 tomorrow with Gerrard on the left we will struggle to break Germany down.

    Germany will be the first team to pose a real threat to the England defence, and with a good playmaker in Ozil, a good goalscorer in Klose, and Podolski who can strike a ball, it's easy to see them scoring multiple goals if the centre backs play poorly and/or they play well.

    The suggestions that Rooney should be on the bench are ridiculous. Rooney is a genius, at any moment he could change the game. He and Gerrard are our key men in attack, and both of them possess this quality which very few players have. When they have the ball, there is always a feeling that something brilliant is going to happen. Rooney hasn't made things happen yet, but he will, and that is why he will always keep his place.
    Gerrard should not be on the left. We have a great left winger in Joe Cole, and yet Capello would rather dampen the affect Gerrard can have on the game than play Cole.

    I hope I'm wrong about the 4-4-2 thing, and that England will destroy Germany, but I can't see this going any way but Germany's.

    Capello's line up:

    My line up:


  • Comment number 40.

    I'm looking forward to this game and I do hope it lives up to it's expectation. I hope the game will be mouth watering. On 606 people has been casting their opinions. It was nice to see some bitter comments from some Americans too, of course after the loss to Ghana. Some said England are doomed with the same fate as themselves. Who ever wins the game I do hope to see some good game and some humorous discussion at 606.

  • Comment number 41.

    It does not matter how excited we get or how optomistic we are, we know deep down that Germany will win, and you know it will be on penalties.

  • Comment number 42.

    @ Notasquick no34
    Your long, boring self obseesed comment has unneccesarily filled up this blog. I presume you are something of an expert after seeing what you have chosen for the match starting eleven, what part of Capello's preparation makes you think he will start Hart over James? When did Gareth Barry last start a game at club level never mind internationally as a centre half? Carrick? The worst aspect though is your assertion that
    "There is also the fact that playing an african side physical(sic)takes a huge amount out of european teams and usually leads to a dip in subsequent performances (with the short rest period this will be exacerbated)." This is not a fact.

  • Comment number 43.

    Since we (the USA) got knocked out Saturday, it's now up to England to carry the day for me.

  • Comment number 44.

    Morning from Bloemfontein. Glorious day here and even as early as this the anticipation is mounting for England v Germany.

    Let's get the debate about the game started here.

    Wayne Rooney was the name on the lips of both Fabio Capello and Steven Gerrard in a rather surreal press conference last night. Is now Rooney's time or will he be outshone by Germany's own emerging superstar Mesut Ozil?

    What is England's best plan to win the game? And how should they counter the threat of Ozil? Some seem unconvinced that Gareth Barry is the man to keep an eye on him.

    We've got plenty of time before kick-off, so all your views are welcome.

  • Comment number 45.

    Anyone that dumps the Germans out of the World Cup is owed a medal. Germany plays football that could put you to sleep - Bolton Wanderers at national level. Football should be about joy, about expression, an art almost - and it is impossible to imagine Germany playing like that - just as it is impossible to imagine Zidane as a German.
    C'mon, England! You invented the game, for pete's sake!

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    I am looking forward to today, but somewhat worried regarding the end result of Englands game with Germany. My head tells me that we exit here (and i hope i am wrong). My heart tells me that the Three Lions are untouchable and will progress to the next stage. All in all i honestly believe we have not produced anything spectacular this world cup and are not likely to do so. Come on England, show us what you are made of.

  • Comment number 48.

    Well it's also a sunny day here in England, the temperature is predicted to reach 30 deg.. Phew!

    I'm Very excited about today's game and I'm going for a 2-0 England victory. I think Rooney will finally score, and the other goal coming from Lampard.

    I'm already pacing the rooom and don't know what to do with myself, perhaps another cup of tea will soothe the nerves.

    Whatever happens I'm sure it'll be a good game. Good luck to the lads, maybe the locals will call you the new "Bafana Bafana"

  • Comment number 49.

    I can tolerate an England defeat, as long as we give 100%, and go down fighting like lions, and not pussy cats. I reckon 2-1 to England.

  • Comment number 50.

    Time to come home England , Germany will win . 2-1

    Good luck Germany,

  • Comment number 51.

    Centi50 (comments 26 and 27) I was going to lay into you but I changed my mind as it's quite obvious from the way you articulate your thoughts that you're a minor. Anyway if Mummy lets you stay up late enough you will be able to watch Rooney and co in the semi-final on the 7th July.

  • Comment number 52.

    I wanna say what I said on yesterdays beat the Germans is easy...PACE, POWER, HARD TACKLING, HASSLING, IN YOUR FACE FOOTBALL, NOT GIVING THEM TIME ON THE BALL....just like in our Premier League....If we made any mistakes in the past and this includes Euro club football is that we try to play their European style and quite simply we cannot and that's why we under perform...The Germans cannot cope with us if we play our own's too fast for them and we will cause them big problems...Show the players the first 40 minutes of Man Utd Vs Bayern Munich..Remember that Schweinsteiger had played and more importantly Badstuber was left back...he could not cope with the pace...please don't reply about Bayern going thru coz away goals don't count today !!!....COME ON ENGLAND !!!!

    Guys copy and paste this in YouTube..this is how to do it...

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 53.

    Germany-England. A peach of a tie. As you rightly suggest, the pick of the games so far. Indeed, such is the enormity of expectation surrounding this classic encounter that Franz Beckenbauer has expressed disappointment that it's a last-16 game instead of a semi-final. That shows respect for England. And fear. Probably the same respect and fear that we have for them. The key seems to be whether or not Rooney will explode into life for the first time in this tournament. If he does, England could win. If he doesn't, then Germany could snatch it. Either way it's of little consequence because Argentina lie in wait (presuming they beat Mexico). And Argentina are looking good. So exciting! Er.., is it just me or is Rooney looking a bit tubbier than before?

  • Comment number 54.

    I just wonder how you can state tension is in the two camps due to one manager not showing up and the other seeming business like. I'd watch the game this may give us far more clues!

  • Comment number 55.

    Phil @44 ..."threat of Ozil? Some seem unconvinced that Gareth Barry is the man to keep an eye on him."

    From the last game I wouldn't trust Gareth Barry to keep an eye on my porridge! But this is match day, so sod that, if he gets the nod from the The Squadfather I hope he comes on to his game today and imposes himself.

    With no mullets in tow we may just do it this time. Rooney can't go through the tournament without scoring! Can he?

  • Comment number 56.

    12. At 11:24pm on 26 Jun 2010, Sloan wrote:

    England tied the US; Germany beat Ghana, while the US was defeated by Ghana. What does that tell us about tomorrow?

    Absolutely nothing

  • Comment number 57.

    25. At 00:44am on 27 Jun 2010, Pete Shorrock wrote:

    Mark my words - WORST GERMAN TEAM FOR TIME!! We will crush them.

    Don't believe everything you read in the Sun

  • Comment number 58.

    1. The 3 Lions are unleashed as one !
    2. Play as a pride, the pride of a Nation.
    3. Wayne Rooney Sings The National Anthem.
    4. ENGLAND !

  • Comment number 59.

    @ Comment 31 - punkfrock

    Couldn't agree more.
    And by the same logic, the New Zealand rugby team would never have won a match.

  • Comment number 60.

    If you look at the German players as individuals, only one - Ozil - would have even an outside chance of getting into a top club side like Barca or Real. But something definitely happens when they pull on the Germany shirt. This has happened before - people have written off Germany's chances because of a lack of individual player quality, but somehow they still do well in tournaments.

    Where England are concerned, I'm continually amazed at the lack of media (and fan) balance. They draw with the US - by no means a disastrous result - and suddenly they're the worst England team ever, etc.. (Admittedly, the performance against Algeria was bad). But then England beat little Slovenia 1-0 and this England team is suddenly fantastic, has a good chance of winning the World Cup, and so on.

    Today, the Germans will play above their somewhat mediocre individual abilities. The question is, can England do the same? My fear is that the burden of history will weigh on England's state of mind. Germany 2-1 England is my guess, though I'd love to be wrong.

    But, win or lose, can we hope for some balance? If England lose, it won't make them 'the worst ever England team', etc, etc.. On the other hand, if England win, it won't make them the world's best.

  • Comment number 61.

    Best plan to win the game? I think play with tempo and try and hit them early. England have looked slow and predictable for the most part so far. We need some inspiration! Our centre backs may lack pace, but so do theirs. Mertesacker is there for the taking - C'mon England!!

  • Comment number 62.

    Their [Capello and Gerrard's] hasty exit later prompted loud complaints from sections of the world's media.

    Would that suggest that media hacks arent as important as they think they are? From my point of view i would say that the game and the result is infinitely more important that what is written by the press. At least Capeelo fulfilled his FIFA obligation, perhaps its Lowe who should feel the full weight (what ever that is) of the media's displeasure for not even turning up (the ultimate snub) rather than the England manager.

  • Comment number 63.

    Yesterday is a good example of the importance that teams seem to attach to psychology. Both sides seem to be going out of their way to win the psycholgical war. Beckenbauer was at it right from the beginning of the tournamnent. In the EPL Sir Ferguson is at it all the time. As soon as one game's finished he doesn't waste much time in trying to wind up the next opponent. And a grateful media lapping it up is the tool he uses.

    For that reason, you can't blame Adrian Bevington for not giving the press any slack because unfortunately they can't be trusted not to try and hijack our mental preparations, and that's just our press! I fully support him. We want England fully focused on today's game, not with their minds elsewhere.

    As for the game, I don't know, but as other posters have said sloane, #12, Germany 4-0 Australia, Serbia 1-0 Germany, Australia 2-1 Serbia. History is history, today is a new day. Here's hoping Wayne Rooney's having a Sunday lie-in and gets out of bed the right side.

  • Comment number 64.

    As a Uruguay supporter the arrogance of the English fans is par for the course... Weak sides in this quarter of the draw... thats rich coming from the supporters of a side that only managed to qualify for the last 16 by the skin of their teeth... Out of what I might add was arguably the easiest group in the world cup finals (according to the English press) scoring a mere 2 goals and with a goal difference of 1.

    I would proffer that it only looks an easy draw because the teams with multi million pound players failed to deliver (France and England) and both Ghana and Uruguay managed to score more than 1 goal. In Ghana's case beating the USA something England failed to do

    If England do go out to Germany should we to expect the ugly side of English football as witnessed at a big screen event in Manchester recently

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    I still think Rooney is the key to us over performing in this tournament. He is the key to us beating the top teams. When he has not performed i.e. in the group stages, we have looked ordinary. We also lack goals, 2 in 3 games is not a high enough ratio. We need the Rooney of the qualifiers i.e. 9 goals in 8 games. We also need him to bring our other key players with him, particularly Gerrard and Lampard. We have seem snippets of the three playing together against Slovenia but this needs to go up a level now as the tournament begins for real.

  • Comment number 67.

    LOL Spirit of Iona...those fans in Manchester were Scottish not English...learn the facts before making yourself look silly

  • Comment number 68.

    "And Englan even if you Pass Germany, You will not smell Semi Final as you are nothing to Argentina Or Mexico"
    Interesting comment; Mexico are very pretty and play nice footy, but, playing poorly we beat them 3-1. What happens if we turn up?
    Argies; good going forward, have they been made to go backwards? don't thinnk they can.

  • Comment number 69.

    Spirit of Iona
    the weakest group by a LONG way was Italy's. See what happened there. But, I must confess, England supporters suuggesting Uruguay is a weak team is a bit rich on the evidence. Good luck until you meet England.

  • Comment number 70.

    #64, I think what you mean Spirit of Iona is you hope there will be ugly scenes in Manchester, just like when Rangers came visiting a couple of years ago. You really are a messed up nasty piece of work.

  • Comment number 71.

    Please explain how I broke the house rules.

    Did I embarras your editor by doing his job?

  • Comment number 72.

    64. At 09:01am on 27 Jun 2010, Spirit_of_Iona wrote:
    As a Uruguay supporter the arrogance of the English fans is par for the course...

    More cheap platitudes. What on earth do you get out of insulting all England fans for the perceived thoughtlessness of the few?

  • Comment number 73.

    Come on Germany!! Hope you beat the so-called "golden generation" (who have never achieved anything in international football!!) and ram the words of the racist English tabloids who spout endless garbage about the wars back down their throats!!

  • Comment number 74.

    "12. At 11:24pm on 26 Jun 2010, Sloan wrote:
    England tied the US; Germany beat Ghana, while the US was defeated by Ghana. What does that tell us about tomorrow?"

    It tells me you know nothing about football or you are an ITV commentator.

  • Comment number 75.

    #12 - Absolutely nothing and just the sort of drivel I expect from a person who is clueless about the game. Go back to halfords and get a refund on your car flags and we'll see you in four years time.

    #14 - Disagree with England being underdogs but don't think we're favourites either. It's very even. And how are Germany a "much fitter team" exactly?

    #31 - Exactly. A complete joke of a theory.

    #33 - Enjoyed it. Good post.

    #34 - notsoquick, you must love the smell of your own poo. James' "weak right knee", do you really think this will be a major deciding factor??!! James is solid and has been for quite some time. Just because he's made a few mistakes in the past he seems to get a worse rap than most other keepers. He commands and talks, you can see the confidence spread through the side. I agree Hart is quality but he won't be risked. It's interesting that Germany have bred 5 U21 players who beat England U21 5-0 in the final last year into the side. Surely we should've done the same with Hart?
    Upson started a bit shakily but settled in and looked competent. The guys were under such pressure it's good to see us play as well as we did.
    FIFA heatmaps? I don't care about gimmicks. I care about winning. Everything else is just peripheral.

  • Comment number 76.

    Bliss - it's a glorious day, sun's hot, beers are chilling and England are playing Germany in the World Cup. Days like this don't come along too often, hope everybody enjoys it...

    I might be being blindingly optimistic, but I've always felt that we play better against a stronger team. That doesn't excuse the US match (where I thought we looked a bit desperate) or the Algeria match (where you'd have thought the squad with the multi-million pound players and numerous premiership winners medals was playing in white and green), but the performance curve is definitely bending the right way, and there surely can't be another team in the world that England will want to beat more. Rooney is overdue a standout game in this World Cup - let's hope today's the day he gets his shooting boots on...

  • Comment number 77.

    @ Ben #74
    Interesting conclusion to your post. I have been wondering for some time whether Edgar Davids is:
    a) awake
    b) a robot
    c) in anyway interested in the World Cup

    A very poor mans replacement for the intelligent, articulate and intersting Seedorf on the BBC.

    This standard is generally refelcted in the other ITV presenters and commentators, a big victory for the BBC all round.

  • Comment number 78.

    I lived in Germany for a while and the fact is, a VERY large number of Germans really couldn't give a monkey's, whereas, we all get emotional, some tired and emotional, over our team. So, at 3 o'clock let's get Uri Geller to focus all that and melt the germans laces together. It is a better plan than some of the formations and selections I have seen on here.

  • Comment number 79.

    #60 - are you serious? Lahm, Klose and Schweinsteiger play for Bayern Munich! I guess they don't count as a top club side, getting to the champions league final and 4 european cup wins is nothing i guess compared with real big guns like Man City or Spurs.
    I also hilariously heard Kevin Keegan and Southgate say that not a single German player would get in the England team. Anyone who would have Glen Johnson at their full back ahead of a world class player like Lahm cleary needs to visit a head doctor.
    In terms of creativity I would have Ozil in my team ahead of Lampard as well. Heskey ahead of third top WC goalscorer of all time Klose?
    In saying that, think England may win but the pace of the Argentinian attack will be too much for England's centre backs in the QF.

  • Comment number 80.

    England fans seriously need to stop criticising Wayne Rooney, everyone (including a city fan) knows he's our best player! And so what he's been misfiring recently, haven't you guys ever heard the phrase form is temporary but class is permananent.. It only takes one goal.

    I mean in all honesty who expected Slovakias Vittek (3) score more goals than Spain's Fernando Torres (0).. We all know who the better player is.. The German fear Wayne, his impact on the pitch is as much a psychological one as much as it a physical one.

    2-1 England, a tight game with few shots.

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    Lets be brutally honest here, the Kaisers complaints about this game coming a round or two early are as muddled as the mans marbles, it was this round or not at all.
    This is the last match for one of the sides and the second last match for the other. Neither side are capable or indeed worthy of being named world cup winners, unlike the previous winners who were unworthy but capable.

    Germany v England was once one of footballs classic battles of organized team play, hard work, moments of individual brilliance and total commitment, it is now little more than two second class sides battling for bragging rights....

    Still, it gives the football writers, bloggers, twitters and out of work managers plenty of copy...

  • Comment number 83.

    "...arguably the World Cup's most anticipated game."

    The UK media's most anticipated game maybe!

  • Comment number 84.

    Thanks for all the messages about the great weather back home. Not so bad here in Bloemfontein either.

    So, England team? Unchanged or Upson out for Carragher or King? My hunch - unchanged.

    What do you think?

  • Comment number 85.

    #83, well said pvandck. I'm an England fan but really much prefer other England games without so much baggage. Just imagine, especially with you know who as Argentina coach, The Sun et al must be praying for an England Argentina Quarter Final? Can you imagine what that will be like?!

  • Comment number 86.

    On the subject of MacLarens circus.

    I think most Middlesbrough fans would swap their current team for the UEFA Cup finalists of McLarens reign. Beating the 'Ajax-PSV-Feyenoord' trio for the first time since records began with an unfashionable provincial outfit goes head-to-head with McLeish/Hodgson/Holloway as one of the managerial performances of the season.

    For most of the EURO campaign McLaren had only one fit striker and had he won at the Luzhniki (would Capello's team be able to do that?) England would have qualified. It goes to show the lack of a stength in depth England managers have to pick from.

    After you take the big 6 out - Rooney, Gerrard, Ashley Cole, Terry, Ferdinand?, Lampard? Some of the players are very bit type players. Take the Goalkeeping situation which is represented by players of Portsmouth, West Ham and Birmingham - two of whom struggled last season.

  • Comment number 87.

    I think England will play the same team, and am looking forward to the England V Argentina game!

  • Comment number 88.

    OK, no direction from the moderators on my e-mail, so try again...

    Another disappointing blog. I read these hoping to get a bit of a taste of what the "informed" British media is saying World Cup wise. Instead, I get the same-old, same-old day in day out.

    How is the length of the press conference interesting?

    In terms of the bit about the match...line by line, I'm afraid;

    "England's players have delivered a blaze of optimistic statements in the build up to a game that has captured the imagination of this vast nation"...Optimistic is better than pessimistic and really, what do you expect them to say? In any measure England is not a "vast nation".

    "it must be tempered by the fact that their great victory of this World Cup has been against the smallest country taking part." "Great victory" that's your words, no-one else's from what I can tell. Anyway, the team feels good. Feeling good does not have to be "tempered" by anything.

    "Germany, even a young team in transition, represent a huge task and will require England to move their performance on to another plane from what we have seen from them so far." "Move their performance to another plane" is whimsical and infers such a massive improvement as not to be possible. That England will have to play well is true, but those kind of terms would suffice when stating what is, to virtually anyone breathing, obvious.

    Germany will also need to significantly improve to compete with England. One thrashing of Australia does not a trophy make. They were seriously at risk against Ghana and have already lost once. This you fail to mention.

    Is there any way you can inform me of something I do not already know about Germany or England? What about the technical make up of the sides? How the positions may be effective against each other. Comparisons of player match ups in key areas. In which areas of the pitch both teams build up play...and so-on.

    England put the "history" behind them when they humiliated Germany 5-1 in Munich. How long are you going to rake this stuff up? It's old. Do something have a chance to be innovative granted you by the BBCs "special" position. Please use it.

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    >39. At 03:42am on 27 Jun 2010, The_Chosen_1 wrote:
    >England's problem is not our players, it's the way Capello plays them.
    >My line up:

    Well blimey, The_Chosen_1, how foolish the FA for not picking you as England Manager. Who needs this Capello bloke and all his experience and medals?

  • Comment number 91.

    England playing in all red is a very good omen for England?
    This, I think, will suit England today.

  • Comment number 92.

    I don't care who plays or how we play anymore, as long as we win.

    Come on England!!!

  • Comment number 93.

    Morning Phil,

    As far as the defence goes, i think i'd risk it with King. He's that much better than the others. Though i half expect Upson to keep his place, which would be fair enough.

    I think if i was German, i'd be looking at exposing Johnson's defensive weakness. So Podolski's pace and movement will be the target of passes from the likes of Bastian and Ozil. I think the best way to deal with Ozil would be to cut off his passing options - mainly Podolski as i think Cole should have no problems with Muller and im undecided on Klose.

    We must - and ive written this before - play a high pressing game. and we have to be relentless about it. If we let a superior technical team have possession for too long we will find it very hard to get a foot hold in the game and gather any attacking momentum.

    A lot has been made about their lack of pace at the back - that's all well and good but it's imperative we actually test test that by playing high up and looking to steal the ball in dangerous areas. Get their defence under pressure early and unsettle them. If we can steal the ball high up the pitch when the Germans aren't set up and in rank then we can start to exploit any possible lack of speed they may have. Again, if we sit back and let them get organised and fail to move their defence about and pressure them, i fear we will go out in a very tame manor.

  • Comment number 94.

    Re: 88.

    This is a very good post, one of the best on here. Was it modded earlier on? It shouldn't be. It makes relevant and important points, all of which I would whole-heartedly endorse.

    The quality of the BBC's reporting/commentary on the World Cup has been on the whole shockingly poor. It is also bankrolled by a universal, national tax. Pointing out its feebleness is both valid and of vital importance, though doubtless not be what the corporation wants to hear.

  • Comment number 95.

    Upson got his chance and did well - he will start

    England will probably do ok today - playing against better opposition i think they will raise their game an awful lot

    However I expect the England midfield to be under the cosh quite a bit and Germany to have most of the possession - i think England will find it very difficult to deal with Oezil...

    I think it will be a tight game - possibly even penalties. I think the worst thing England could do would be to score early, as they will inevitably fall back and try to hang on.

    Rooney still doesnt seem right to me (is he fully fit?)- but maybe today he will turn it on.....

    Germany to win 2-1 in ET

  • Comment number 96.

    Game to be won on the flanks. Germans are vulnerable at the back. Lahm (despite his thrilling attacking style) can be as much of a train wreck as Johnson in defence. The other side is a revolving door with semi hurt/inexperienced guys on the German sideMilner and Johnson look solid on the right but who is going to cover if A Cole raids forward; which he hasn't done a lot of this WC? Look for schweinsteiger to only play 50 to 60 minutes also.

  • Comment number 97.

    94. Johnnygray26:

    "The quality of the BBC's reporting/commentary on the World Cup has been on the whole shockingly poor".

    Yes and no. Actual match coverage has been very good on the BBC. Gary and co have been good, and the BBC has been much better than the ITV coverage, which I've really disliked - they even slip irritating, mind-numbingly boring ads in between the anthems and the kick-off, and notoriously got the timing so wrong that they missed Gerrard's goal on HD.

    But if you mean web coverage, you're absolutely right. Blogs have tended to be utterly predictable and have generally stated the blindingly obvious.

    If only they'd bring back Robbo!

  • Comment number 98.

    Upson scored against Germany in the last friendly in Berlin, and has done nothing wrong to lose his place so he should definately stay in the team.

    To take him out would suggest Capello didn't fully trust him and with King...likely to go down with yet another injury anyway - Fabio would be wasting a substitution.

    I'd play 5 in midfield with Rooney up top on his own and Gerrard pushed further up in the middle with J.Cole on the left. If the game goes the distance..swap Joe for pacy Lennon and Milner for pacy Wright-Phillips (fresh legs)...saving Defoe for extra-time and if necessary I'm not even gonna say it!

  • Comment number 99.

    England footballers have been long with Fabio Capello and the national team. Their German opponents will bring out the best from this well-equipped English side. Keeping the ball on the ground and weaving pattern after pattern of breath-taking football has been the additional ingredient in this attack-minded squad. The crisp-along-the-ground-goal- bound-effort by Gerrard and the one by Jermaine Defoe are indications that England are equally good in scoring from ground passes as well as from aerial supplies. Looking forward to an exciting football match. Best wishes to Steven Gerrard, his players and their legion of admirers.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 100.

    I list below some comments from posters on this blog which I find amusing

    • Like a lot of teams the Germans are good upfront but nowhere else. I expect a comfortable England win."

    • It strikes me that the Germans are already hoping for penalties - if so, England have won the psychological battle already.

    • Mark my words - WORST GERMAN TEAM FOR TIME!! We will crush them.

    • The German camp are trying to portray that the game is a mere formality from them to win, which means that they are genuinely worried by England

    • to beat the Germans is easy...PACE, POWER, HARD TACKLING, HASSLING, IN YOUR FACE FOOTBALL, NOT GIVING THEM TIME ON THE BALL....just like in our Premier League

    Do the people who write such drivel actually believe what they write, are they supreme optimists or just fools. In any case they sound much more like Sun or Mirror readers. Perhaps they are just kids and we shouldn’t mock them.

    To be fair most posts are realistic about this game which I think is almost too tight to call. I think a very tense single goal victory to – England (I think).


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