England’s biggest day

Richard Jackson is blogging throughout the World Cup as he travels around South Africa from Cape Town to Johannesburg. You can follow his journey through the ‘Bolton Raider’ facebook page and on www.subsidesports.com
It’s hard to believe that it’s 9 years since that famous night in Munich when Germany and England last did battle and today one of football’s most famous rivalries will be reignited. With all the excitement that has gripped both nations it is easy to forget that a few hours later a World Cup rivalry just as fierce will be taking part.
I’m lucky enough to have tickets for the Argentina v Mexico game at Soccer City, and to tell you the truth I can’t wait. Of course, I’d love to be in Blomfontein, but at least this way I can guarantee I won’t find myself in cardiac arrest. The Argentinians are in fine form, and in Lionel Messi they possess probably the most talented player at the tournament. To see him live will be something quite special and with a whole host of other stars you’d have to think they’ll have too much for Mexico. Whilst the Mexican’s were impressive against France in truth they rarely looked threatening against Uruguay and they will have to step it up considerably if they are to trouble Diego Pozo. Regardless of the result it promises to be a free flowing attacking match – with more than a hint of latin spice.
The England Germany game will be something quite different. Drama you can guarantee. Footballing genius you cannot. When I saw Germany lose to Serbia in Port Elizabeth they were impressive even in defeat, although they are a greatly unbalanced side. Miroslav Klose will always be a dangerous marksmen and talisman Lukas Podolskiis sure to cause Glen Johnson trouble all day, but the German back line undoubtedly lacks pace. I was shocked at how often Serbia widemam Milos Krasicwas found unmarked in dangerous positions, with Phillip Lahm helpless. At Port Elizabeth Podolski missed three great chances in as many minutes, but Serbia could easily have scored three themselves. There 1-0 victory was no fluke.
Capello’s men were much better in their final game against Slovenia, although it was hardly a convincing performance. Before that game I suggested the Italian should change formation to get the most out of his side, and whilst this wish was not granted the principle of England’s game plan was much better. They must play with width on both flanks and with James Milner expected to keep his spot wide right they have a young man with a highly dependable delivery. If England continue to get the ball wide and zip crosses between the goal and the last defender they will give themselves a great chance. If they fail to keep to this game plan they will find life extremely difficult.
Yesterday I was able to briefly meet Hertha Berlin Captain Arne Friedrich at Johannesburg’s famous Lion Park . At 31 he makes up one quarter of the under paced back four and after captaining a side which finished rock bottom of the Bundesliga its difficult to say he is in good form. That said Friedrich was confident about Germany’s chances, already looking ahead to the latter stages. This was not arrogance, it is just the German way. Their aim will always be to win this tournament – 3 stars in not enough. If England want to halt the Germans prematurely they will have to play much better than they have done previously. Here’s the bad news, Germany have never gone over 20 years without winning a world cup. The last time they won it was in 1990. As I left the lion park I was unable to wish Friedrichluck, confessing I was English. Friedrich smiled and shook his head before pointing to my shirt. I got the distinct impression that if I hadn’t been wearing an Italy shirt (as a mark of respect of course), I probably wouldn’t have got a photo.
Richard Jackson (The Bolton Raider) for Subside Sports
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