26 June 2010

England v Germany 06.27.10

Live in the US on ESPN at 10am ET

Guess at the line-ups:
Johnson Upson Terry ACole
Milner Lampard Barry Gerrard
Defoe Rooney

Lahm Friedrich Mertesacker Badstuber
Khedira Schweinsteiger
Müller Özil Podolski

Ze Germans. It's always ze Germans. Yes, 1966, but Germany's knocked England out of the World Cup in 1970 and 1990, and had a hand in their elimination at the second group stage in 1982. Then there was Euro 1996, which England hosted. It's always ze Germans and it almost always ends with penalties and tears.

It's hard to see anything other than the same England XI as last time out. Rarely do teams change a winning formula in the middle of World Cup, and there have been few other players who've made a case for starting. As I wrote in the comments of my England/Slovenia match review, I'd rather see 4-2-3-1, especially given Germany's probable line-up, but I've also wanted that formation from the beginning.

With the amount of possession Germany usually has (compared to England so far, at least) and with how dangerous Özil's been, it seems more likely than against Slovenia or Algeria, where – in theory – England looked to take the game to their opponents. England will have to counter-attack much more than in any group game, and will need Barry to shadow the likes of Özil and probably Kroos between the lines. Still, I doubt Capello's going to change his stripes now, and individual roles will be more important than the ostensible formation.

What England really needs is for the big names to play to their potential. First and foremost, Rooney and Lampard need to finally show up. Neither has scored since the 5-1 win over Croatia last September, and both have been anonymous at best so far. An improvement in Gerrard's form similar to his step-up between the Algeria and Slovenia matches, replicating his first half against the US, would also be nice. In addition, I hope Upson, impressive against Slovenia, remains in the line-up even with Carragher returning from suspension and news that Ledley King's supposedly fit.

Germany hasn't impressed since demolishing Australia in the first match, losing to Serbia after a harsh red card before narrowly beating Ghana, but I find it hard to believe anyone could consider England favorites after their three group matches (although I'm sure the tabloids, which I haven't read, are chock full of 'we'll bomb their asses' jingoism). And that should work in England's favor.

Schweinsteiger's injury could be crucial, although I still expect him to start. Surely Germany wouldn't exaggerate his injury just to play mind games. Either of his potential replacements – Toni Kroos or Piotr Trochowski – is a more attacking option, which will put more pressure on Khedira. It could also be Jerome Boateng, a utility defender, if he recovers from a calf strain, but I expect Löw to go with the more attacking option. Typical Germans. And if Löw really wanted to throw caution to the wind, he could start Gomez, converting to a diamond-like 4-4-2, but I've almost always seen this version of Germany play 4-2-3-1. Regardless, if Bastian can go, he will.

This is a intriguing match-up regardless of the history between the sides or the massively out-of-date war metaphors. Two historic European "powerhouses" (okay, I know that's pushing it in England's case); two of the names always most discussed when the World Cup comes around. That's what this tournament's all about.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Badstuber could possibly replace Mertesacker who had big problems against Ghana, and with Jansen on the left Germany would be in a more offensive tactic.