Date: Saturday, June 27th. 10 a.m. ET
England (Group C runner-up) vs. Germany (Group D winner)
Only the second match in the knockout stage and fans will be given a treat. A showdown of two world powers and potential World Cup champions. Both England and Germany had less than stellar group performances, but that is in the past.
After a underwhelming performance against Algeria, English fans were irate. Everyone from Wayne Rooney to coach Fabio Capello were on the hot seat. Those frustrations were not silenced with the team's 1-0 win over Slovenia, and England is under the gun to advance.
The big guns need to wake up and contribute for England to advance. Rooney is still scoreless, and his shot off the post in the Slovenia game shows he is close to breaking out. The highly talented midfield, led by captain Steven Gerrard, also needs to turn it on. The silver lining for England was its defensive performances in the group stage. A bit shaky in 2006, the defense allowed no goals (I am not counting Robert Green's fumbled goal to the US).
Germany is again primed for a run, or are they? The Germans have made it to the final eight in the last four World Cups and after their first game looked to be real contenders for the Cup. Then their loss to Serbia put that into question. Talented but young, the Germans need to play consistent, efficient ball. The return of Miroslav Klose will help out.
England : Wayne Rooney : Rooney is overdue. Going all three games without a real presence is not typical for the Manchester forward. Jermain Defoe seems to be a good companion up top and he should break out of his shell this weekend.
Germany: Phillip Lahm: The youngest captain to ever play for Germany, Lahm has shown why he was chosen to replace the iconic Michael Ballack. Lahm is all over the field, aiding in scoring drives and making key defensive stops when Germany needs him. He will need to help keep Wayne Rooney in check while pushing up and delivering the ball from the corners. If Lahm can run free and play his game, Germany will be in good shape.
Prediction: Both teams are talented and both are capable of winning. Although England barely got out of the group stage, its experience and talent as well as a break out game from Wayne Rooney see it through with a 2-1 win. Germany is a great team but just a bit too young. Look for them to come back and dominate in Brazil in 2014.