FIFA World Cup 2010: Know Your 'Old Enemy'- An England Fan's Guide To Germany

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FIFA World Cup 2010: Know Your 'Old Enemy'- An England Fan's Guide To Germany
Joern Pollex/Getty Images

In preparation for the crucial knockout match between Germany and England in Bloemfontein, an England fan might find him or herself wondering about this fresh-faced Germany team, so in response here is a little guide which might be useful.

This is not a traditional German team. The old clichés regarding boredom and efficiency are no longer in any way accurate when talking about this German side.

Manager Joachim Löw has continued the trend of 2006 of emphasising youth and attack over a strong defence. The German side has brought five strikers and seven players capable of playing across the attacking midfield positions, not including winger made deep-lying playmaker Bastian Schweinsteiger, testament to their attacking intentions.

In short, this Germany team take risks, and they have the individual ability to make those risks count.

 

Attack

The Germans' strength at this World Cup is the quality which they have spread about the midfield. The three attacking midfield positions are hotly contested by their selection of players, while their first choice striker, Miroslav Klose, has real World Cup pedigree. 

Unfortunately for Germany, Klose's replacements do not have the same pedigree, with Cacau being first choice replacement and behind him Mario Gomez, a name which England might have been worried about two years ago but which now seems to be a byword for footballing regression.

 

Midfield

Sami Khedira and Schweinsteiger have made the central midfield duties their own. Both are competent on the ball, and they support each other's attack runs well. If left unchecked, they have the ability to cause havoc by slipping in the well-timed runs of those in front of them as well as adding bodies to the attack.

Both are booked, and neither has a replacement on the bench. The German injury crisis hit this position hard, but these two have put to rest the worries about a Michael Ballack-less midfield.

 

Defence

It is perhaps unsurprising that with this shift to offensive priorities, the German defence has become less solid than its previous incarnations. Per Mertesacker's positional sense and tackling is excellent, but he lacks pace, while Arne Friedrich has impressed but has shown that he can lose focus.

Phllipp Lahm is a shoo-in for right-back, but the left-back position has proved more difficult to fill, with Holger Badstuber lacking the pace and offensive ability to play it to full effect. Against England the choice is between Jerome Boateng, a right-footed centre-back, Marcell Jansen, a giant and quick but overly offensive full-back, and Dennis Aogo, quick and competent but untested at the highest level.

 

Goalkeeper

The hole left in the German defence by Oliver Kahn's retirement has been battled for by three highly competent keepers. First choice Rene Adler was struck down by injuries, so 23-year-old Manuel Neuer has stepped into the breach and acquitted himself admirably. His positional sense can be a little over-aggressive, as he loves to charge off his line, but his reflexes are astonishing.

 

Their key men are attacking midfielder Mesut Özil, midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, and offensive full-back and captain Philipp Lahm. All three will need to be suppressed to block the German offensive creativity, but to focus purely on these three would be to ignore too many skilled attacking players.

The Germans play a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation, but the three attacking midfielders tend to come inside, creating a fairly narrow midfield, while Klose is a threat who needs to be watched carefully; he is a true goal-poacher, and he is finding his feet after a turgid season.

This game is not unwinnable for England, but large-scale improvements will be required to progress in this World Cup. Frank Lampard and Co. can cause real problems for this team, but Germany are at their most effective on the break, something the sluggish John Terry, Gareth Barry, and Jamie Carragher will need to be aware of.

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