Germany’s Opponents: Part 4 – England

Wazza Is England's Dangerman Heading Into Clash Against Germany.

Germany’s win over Ghana ensured a finish at the top of group D. Heading into the round of 16, Germany will face Fabio Capello’s Three Lions. The English boast an array of attacking talent and midfield maestros, but they have so far failed to impress. Still, England will need to be taken very seriously. While it is clear that they have been out of form, they will be expected to turn it all around as the tournament progresses. And now, in the round of 16 against rivals Germany, the pressure will be on them to change their fate.

England’s defense is a big part of the reason why they have been doing so poorly as of late. Their first choice goalkeeper, Robert Green, made a massive error in England’s opening group fixture against USA, and has since not been picked. Second choice David James is nearing retirement from football at the age of 38, and has also been infamously labeled ‘Calamity James’ for numerous high-profile slip-ups in the past. Despite this, he will play between the sticks for England against Germany.

England’s back four will most likely consist of Glen Johnson, ex-captain John Terry, Matthew Upson, and Ashley Cole. Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole are two marauding full-backs, which is something that will work to Germany’s advantage. Should Johnson and Cole advance up the pitch and support English attacks, they will be very susceptible to Germany’s counter-attack. Podolski will find acres of space behind Johnson, and Mueller will have plenty of room to manouver in behind Cole. Also, should Germany take the game to England and press them, the drive in Podolski and Mueller will keep Johnson and Cole back, pinned in their own half trying to defend instead of focusing on bombing forward. Containing England’s wingers will be much easier for Germany’s full-backs if they aren’t being double-teamed by England’s full-backs.

Terry and Upson are solid in the air, but quite fallible along the pitch. Neither are very fast, another advantage to Germany. Cacau is as quick as he is solid, and will test the English central defenders time and again. A through-pass from Ozil and an intelligent run from Cacau could bring the Three Lions to their knees.

In the midfield is where England are at their best. James Milner, Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry and Steven Gerrard. A star-studded bank of four is what will either break German hearts or crumble under German pressure.

James Milner had a breakthrough season with Aston Villa and played his best football in the middle of the pitch. Despite that, his natural position is wide right, where he will constantly look to spray crosses in from the byline and catch Germany off-guard.

Frank Lamard is England’s main playmaker and triple-threat. He essentially is a box-to-box player; scoring goals and tracking back to help defenders as well. For Chelsea FC, his club side, he has knocked in at least 20 goals from midfield for years and years, and was voted the Premier League player of the decade. He is one of the England players who have been totally out of form, but a big game like the round of 16 clash against Germany should certainly perk him up. Khedira will have to keep a very watchful eye on Lampard, or suffer the consequences.

Gareth Barry is England’s holding midfielder. He will look to break up attacks and play quick passes to more attack-minded players and initiate counter-attacking opportunities. He will be playing a tight game with Mesut Ozil, and will look to stifle Germany’s most creative player at every opportunity.

Captain Gerrard Will Pull The Strings For England In Round of 16 Against Germany.

Finally, Steven Gerrard. Gerrard is arguaby England’s best player. On his day, he embodies everything that England should. Leadership, pride, passion, fighting spirit, the lot. Besides his mental attributes, he also has an arsenal of technical skills. He will look to run at Germany’s defense off the left-hand side and look for crossing, shooting, and through-ball opportunities. His skill will be pivotal to England if they are to  have any success against Germany. Because he likes to cut in off that left-hand side, Germany will have him running into a cul-de-sac. Without support play from Cole, he will be one-on-two with most likely Badstuber and Friedrich, who are not an easy pair to just ease past.

Up front, England have the potential to be one of the deadliest teams in the tournament.

How do you sum up Wayne Rooney? Explosive. Rugged. Mean. Intense. Just some of the words that immediately come to mind when I think of Manchester United’s top goal-scorer last season. The man just didn’t miss. He even added headers to his portfolio of goals, and scored them with total ease, despite his height. In the box he is deadly, but he does seem to come very deep if he does not get the service he would like from his midfield. If Germany can frustrate him and keep him away from any kind of recognizable form, they will win this tie.  Should Rooney find form like the heights he hit with Manchester United, then surely Germany will have one of the toughest nights of their life. ‘The Boy Wayne’, as the ‘Special One’ knows him, was absolutely revelatory for Manchester United, and if he can pick up that kind of form again, he will simply blow the German backline away. Some billed him ‘The White Pele’ after his astonishing displays time and again with Manchester United. He was able to put that club on his back and blast through any opposition. He replaced Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals and assists, and lead a new United this past season. If he is frustrated, though, he goes to pieces. Germany must not allow him to hit any sort of form.

Playing alongside Rooney may well be Jermain Defoe. The Tottenham man is very quick, and is also a fantastic finisher. His goals helped Tottenham achieve a top four spot for the North London club, and he has carried his form to the World Cup, as we can see after his goal against Slovenia. While he isn’t half the player Rooney can be, he will still look to run in behind the German backline and poach a goal should the opportunity arise.

Germany will certainly be tested, but the Three Lions, I believe, will meet their match in this German side.

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