Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Old foes Germany and England are in friendly mode - Feature


Berlin - Neither Germany nor England will be at full strength when they meet on Wednesday in a match both coaches will use to test some new players. However a meeting between the two old foes is never one to dismiss even though the friendly nature of the international will be more pronounced than previous meetings.

"Everyone has told me that it is not a friendly game against Germany, but I think this will be a friendly game," England manager Fabio Capello said. "We will do some experiments and after this game I will know better some different players."Germany coach Joachim Loew has some experimentation of his own planned, with new caps likely for some or all of the three players called up for the first time.

England will be without Liverpool's Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in midfield, who has a rib injury, as well as the Manchester United pair Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand. Captain John Terry, who was a doubt, is now expected to play, but Chelsea teammates Ashley and Joe Cole are missing with hamstring injuries, while Manchester United defender Wes Brown and Wigan striker Emile Heskey are among others absent.

There was no place in Capello's squad for former captain David Beckham, who is one cap away from equalling Bobby Moore's tally of 108 caps, and striker Michael Owen has again been overlooked. The injuries prompted Capello to call up Fulham's Jimmy Bullard and Scott Parker of West Ham United on Monday. Germany meanwhile are without captain Michael Ballack and defender Philipp Lahm, whose recoveries from injuries have come too late for Wednesday's match at the Berlin Olympic Stadium.

Loew also left out Werder Bremen midfielder Torsten Frings, and there were some surprises when the names of Hoffenheim pair Marvin Compper and Tobias Weis along with Wolfsburg's Marcel Schaefer appeared on the roster. Schaefer, who could fill in for Lahm at left-back, is seen as having the best chance of starting. The Werder Bremen goalkeeper Tim Wiese, who had featured in recent squads but has yet to make his debut, can also hope for some action at some stage. "It is important that all our energy is focused on this match. I haven't seen an England team as strong as this for several years," Loew said.

"England are the team of the moment. They have made an incredibly strong impression. They are compact, get forward quickly and are technically very good."Loew is using the occasion to lay down the law at a team meeting on how he expects his players to behave from now on. It follows a turbulent time for the coach in which he has had to meet Ballack and Frings over critical media interviews, and deal with the walk-out of striker Kevin Kuranyi. The Schalke forward will not be returning as long as Loew is in charge, the coach confirmed Monday.

There will be "no new rules" but some guidelines set down on what Loew expects from his players from now on. "I will say that we are gladly prepared to talk about possible problems internally but not via the media," he said. Germany have never beaten England in Berlin in seven previous attempts but Loew is convinced his side will end the year on a positive note. "To play against England in such a large stadium is always something special," he said.

Although England will be without several first-choice players "they have a team which has not been as strong for a long time," he said. Having started the World Cup qualifying campaign with four wins, Capello sees the match as an ideal opportunity to test some fresh faces. The decision to call up Chelsea defender Michael Mancienne - who has yet to play for the Blues and is currently on loan at Championship side Wolves - was a surprise.

Uncapped Aston Villa duo Curtis Davies, 23, and Gabriel Agbonlahor, 22, also add to the youthful nature of the England squad which also features Tottenham Hotspur striker Darren Bent and Manchester City's Micah Richards. Capello will be hoping the newcomers can tap into the new-found confidence in the England camp. "I think the confidence of the players is different now," he said. "I remember the first time we played against Switzerland and we played without confidence. "But now we have played and won four qualifiers for the World Cup, and I can see the confidence in the players. This is the most important thing."

No comments: