A CLASH with old enemies Germany might be extra special for England supporters, but for the team it will just be plain difficult.
This really is not the second round tie that Fabio Capello’s men would have wanted, and they will have to be at their very best to win on Sunday afternoon.
I’m afraid I’d only give England a 40 per cent chance of getting through, because I watched Germany beat Ghana on Wednesday night and I was very impressed.
Joachim Low’s outfit are young and full of running, they are a very solid unit and they look to be full of confidence.
They are also dangerous. Midfielder Mesut Ozil has caught the eye and has the ability to score goals or hurt England. There is no use Capello trying to man-mark him because he will drift wide.
Bastian Schweinsteiger is key for them, so Low will be hoping he is fit, and they are a threat on both flanks. Thomas Muller on the right scores goals and likes to come inside, while on the other wing Lukas Podolski has a great left foot and tends to rise to the big occasion.
All the German midfielders go forward at some point, even the more defensive Sami Khedira – so at times against Ghana they had as many as five across the front.
That forces the opposition back, and England will have to continue to improve how they use possession.
It’s a huge occasion, but I don’t think the England squad will derive any further motivation from the fact they are playing Germany.
As a player, there is no greater motivation that winning the game and, as Frank Lampard says, they won’t mind who the opposition is. The bottom line is: to go all the way you have to beat whoever’s put in front of you.
I expect Capello will stick with a winning team, although I’d be more inclined to bring in Joe Cole, which would help us keep possession, even if it meant dropping Jermaine Defoe.
I also still think Wayne Rooney is the victim of playing in a forward pairing, when he knows he could be more effective on his own.
On the plus side for England, they have an abundance of experience, were much-improved in the win over Slovenia and will have grown in confidence.
And they seem to thrive on one-off matches, so on that basis I might bump them up to a 50-50 chance.
I would hate to think, however, that it might go to penalties.