POOR ENGLAND DON'T SCARE US; We're More of a Team Than Sleeping Lions, Say Germans

Daily Mail (London), June 25, 2010 | Go to article overview

POOR ENGLAND DON'T SCARE US; We're More of a Team Than Sleeping Lions, Say Germans


Byline: DES KELLY reports from Pretoria

WHEN the German players returned to their hotel 20 miles south-west of Pretoria on the Highveld, they gathered out in the courtyard for an impromptu party and watched as a fireworks display lit up the night sky.

England, by contrast, spluttered and popped once or twice against Slovenia, but there has been no real spark, no explosion of colour to draw admiring 'oohs' and 'aahs' from a World Cup crowd.

Fabio Capello's men have mostly been duds, disappointing everyone watching and waiting for some pyrotechnics.

The Germans were talking diplomatically yesterday about how England are 'favourites' ahead of Sunday's match in Bloemfontein, but they don't really mean it.

Actually, they are happy to admit they have seen nothing yet to be afraid of. Behind the scenes they even half endorse Franz Beckenbauer's claim that England's firecracker may have prematurely burnt out.

But they are intelligent and professional enough to realise Capello's side must be approached with extreme caution, as they remain capable of catching alight.

Germany's experienced defender Arne Friedrich said: 'I don't think England have convinced or impressed anyone, even they would say that. They've not had the best tournament so far, in fact they've been poor.

'Despite that we know they are perfectly capable of doing something. They can still spark and we have to be ready. If you go through the England line-up man for man, they are probably the favourites. They have more star names in the side compared to us and because of that you'd have to give them a slight advantage.

'We are young, they are experienced -- we'll be seeing a meeting of two extremes. But our edge comes from the fact that we're more of a team.

'We're growing together and will get better as the tournament goes on.

'The key to our success is to play with the freedom and lightness that our game has had at times in South Africa. We were a little inhibited against Ghana.

'We can't afford to play at that level again against England, but now we're at the knock-out stage we feel a lot more liberated.'

If England are a dormant powder keg then Wayne Rooney is the fuse and, sticking to the theme, German coach Joachim Low said he was worried the Manchester United ace may yet 'explode'.

He added: 'Rooney may not have been the big gun we expected so far but he is ready to fire and our defence will have to be careful.'

Friedrich, the centre half likely to mark England's striker, agreed: 'He has incredible qualities, and has proved it year after year. Rooney's been disappointing so far too, but he will come into his own sooner or later -- if we let him. …

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