Rivalry between Germany and England is no secret. Incidentally, these two teams are set to lock horns in the first knockout stage itself in probably the most intriguing match in the round of 16.
Germany's form has been inconsistent. They started with a bang and scored four goals against a hapless Australian side. However, against Serbia the team played erratically. They finally ended up on the losing side, with Klose picking up his second yellow in the first half.
Lukas Podolski had a dreadful game against Serbia and even missed a penalty, which could have levelled the game. He has not yet hit top form. However, Germany bounced back in the third and final game of the group stages against Ghana with Mezut Ozil scoring the solitary goal.
Ozil has been the standout player for Germany up until now and will play a crucial role in the game against The Three Lions. Ozil's intelligent runs are very difficult to trace and halt. He has shown his pedigree to break offside traps but some of his finishing has let him down thus far.
Whenever Ozil got one-on-one situation in front of the goal, surprisingly, he couldn't successfully beat the goalkeeper. Although his long range shooting skills are there for everyone to see, he lacks composure in front of the goal. He can/should improve on this front. Nonetheless, Ozil is a brilliant playmaker and has the added advantage of blistering pace. England will struggle today against this German starlet.
Bastian Schweinsteiger is the other key member of the German team. He dominates the midfield and strengthens the team defensively. At the same time, he's equally good going forward. The likes of Lampard and Gerrard will have a tough time battling for the ball with this hard-tackling German midfielder.
Miroslav Klose should be back after sitting out the game against Ghana. He has already opened his account in this World Cup but hasn't looked a potent force to be reckoned with.
Germany's midfield is mighty strong when Samir Khedira joins Ozil and Schweinsteiger, and this could be the decisive factor in the end result of today's game.
This is exactly where England are struggling. England's midfield hasn't created too many goal-scoring chances in the group stage games.
Up front, Fabio Capello may even be contemplating replacing Rooney. He has been awful of late.
Jermaine Defoe scored that all-important goal in the final game against Slovenia and should start again.
Maybe Capello could opt for the Tottenham duo up front to lead the English attack against a solid German defence.
That said. Rooney is most likely to start. He's a wounded animal, and Germany must fear him. Per Mertesacker might have a busy game, and Rooney may force Mr. Clean into robust challenges.
In the end, Germany are clear favourites to win.
At any cost, Lukas Podolski must improve his shooting. You can't shoot one out of 10 on target. He must wear the shooting boots on to drown the English ship, in what could be a game with a lot of goals.
Germany's only concern is the left-back position. Badstuber is a bad defender and not experienced enough to play in a game of this magnitude.
Dennis Aogo may be the best option. But Joachim Loew had used Jerome Boateng in the last game. He justified the coach's selection with a good outing, so may well retain his place.
On the other hand, England's key man is Steven Gerrard, who is the only one looking in some sort of touch.
Frank Lampard is terribly out of sorts. Capello should think twice before fielding him again.
Milner should retain his place on the right flank.
Expect tricks and flicks from Mezut Ozil. Also Podolski might score (dare I said it). If the games goes to a penalty shoot-out, you know what the result would be like...
Prediction: Germany 2-0 England