The Germans overcame Ghana with a delightful long range blast from Turkish-born Mesut Ozil, that saw them top the group. However the African continent still has a team to cheer on, as Ghana narrowly scraped through on goal-difference to set up a winnable second-round tie with United States. Earlier in the day England – off the back of a Jermaine Defoe strike, saw off the challenge of Slovenia – but due to the United States’ late victory over Algeria it meant Fabio Capello’s men had to settle for second place in Group C and a tough meeting with the Germans.
There will not be a clear-cut favourite in the game in Bloemfontein, as both England and Germany have shown flashes of greatness in small doses of games. The Germans were at their magnificent best in the 4-0 destruction of Australia in their opening game, a surprise defeat to Serbia next up saw a different, more vulnerable German side, who created chances but lacked a sharpness in front of goal. They looked a threat initially against a very good Ghana side, but struggled to create anything meaningful in the latter stages of the second half and could have conceded a goal numerous times.
England’s problems have been well documented and their form has only just picked up with the 1-0 victory over Slovenia. James Milner in particular looked a handful on the right side of midfield and could yet prove to be destructive against a slightly average German defence. For England to have a chance of progressing to the quarter-finals they must get the best out of star forward Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United man has so far flattered to deceive in this competition and will need to rediscover his goal-scoring touch quickly. Fabio Capello must also decide on his preferred partner for Rooney – Emile Heskey, Defoe or if Steven Gerrard should play in the hole, off Rooney. If England can build on the momentum of the Slovenia victory and every player has a stellar outing then there is no reason why the 1966 winners can’t overcome the German challenge.
Ozil and Sami Khedira have been the stars of the three-time winners’ campaign thus far. They are both fairly new to the national team, but have shown a maturity beyond their years. They will need to be on top form, together with the returning Miroslav Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger and the disappointing Lucas Podolski. Joachim Low can feel confident his charges can attack a weakened England defence without Rio Ferdinand and Ledley King. Jamie Carragher will return from his suspension, which should shore up the defence somewhat. Germany, like England will feel the game is theirs to be won and we should see an exciting, attacking display from both teams.
England vs Germany is a mouth-watering prospect for football lovers worldwide. Just do not mention penalties.