* Kick-off: Sunday 27 June, 15:00 BST
* Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa
England face old rivals Germany in the last 16 of World Cup 2010 in Bloemfontein on Sunday, hoping to avoid more penalty shoot-out heartache.
The Three Lions have lost six out of seven shoot-outs in their history, including two to Germany - in 1990 and 1996. Whereas England haven’t had much luck from the spot in recent years, the Germans have, winning five out of their seven.
Fabio Capello has reportedly already selected his spot-kick takers, but both sides will be hoping to avoid penalties at the Free State Stadium as they look to set up a quarter-final tie with either Argentina or Mexico.
Germany were seen as outsiders for the World Cup before the tournament started, with many suggesting Joachim Low’s side were one of the worst German teams in history. However, after thrashing Australia 4-0 in their opening game, they were propelled among the favourites once again.
Serbia were seen as the potential surprise package of this summer’s World Cup and pulled off a shock 1-0 win over a ten-man Germany side. That result meant the Germans needed a win against Ghana to guarantee a last 16 spot, and they did so with a 1-0 victory - thanks to a terrific strike from Mesut Ozil.
Meanwhile England, who were expected to progress from Group C easily, made life difficult for themselves again. If Robert Green’s howler in the 1-1 draw with the USA wasn’t bad enough, a goalless draw against Algeria set up a tense ending to the group, with Capello’s men needing a win against Slovenia to confirm their place in the knockout stages.
Capello brought Aston Villa's James Milner and Tottenham Hotspur's Jermain Defoe into the starting line-up for the crucial clash with Slovenia, and it paid off too. Milner set up Defoe to score the only goal of the game and England looked to have topped the group, only for the USA's Landon Donovan to score a last-minute winner against Algeria, pipping them to top spot and meaning the Three Lions will face a tougher route to the final.
|Ghana 0-1 Germany
||Slovenia 0-1 England|
|Germany 0-1 Serbia||England 0-0 Algeria|
|Germany 4-0 Australia||England 1-1 USA|
|Germany 3-1 Bosnia and Herzegovina||Japan 1-2 England|
|Hungary 0-3 Germany||England 3-1 Mexico|
Germany have a major concern over star midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. The Bayern Munich man limped off during the win over Ghana with a hamstring injury but managed to take part in training on Saturday.
Also a doubt for the Germans is new Manchester City recruit Jerome Boateng, who is struggling with a calf strain and could be replaced by Holger Badstuber.
Striker Miroslav Klose will return to the starting line-up after missing the win over Ghana through suspension, and he will replace Cacau who has been ruled out with a stomach muscle injury.
One booking away from suspension: Philipp Lahm, Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Cacau.
Possible Starting XI: Neuer; Lahm, Mertesacker, Friedrich, Badstuber; Schweinsteiger, Khedira; Muller, Ozil, Podolski; Klose.
Fabio Capello has a fully fit squad to choose from after Ledley King recovered from a groin injury to return to training on Friday and Wayne Rooney shrugged off an ankle knock.
King could make a surprise return to the starting line-up to play alongside John Terry, but Matthew Upson - who impressed against Slovenia - is likely to keep his place at centre-back.
Another player vying for a spot in defence is Jamie Carragher. The Liverpool centre-back is available again following his one-match ban, which saw him miss the game against Slovenia.
One booking away from suspension: Glen Johnson, James Milner, Steven Gerrard.
Possible Starting XI: James; Johnson, Terry, Upson, A. Cole; Milner, Lampard, Barry, Gerrard; Defoe, Rooney.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Mesut Ozil has undoubtedly been one of the stars in South Africa so far. The 21-year-old put in a terrific display against Australia before scoring one of the goals of the World Cup in Germany’s 1-0 win over Ghana to send his side through to the last 16. However, the Werder Bremen playmaker received a booking earlier in the tournament and another yellow card would see him pick up a one-match ban should Joachim Low’s side progress.
England’s hopes of winning a first World Cup since 1966 looked slim after disappointing draws in their opening two group games, with Wayne Rooney earning criticism for his displays, as well as his blast at fans after the goalless stalemate with Algeria. But the Manchester United striker still remains the Three Lions’ most important player and will be looking to end his eight-match goal drought for Fabio Capello’s men against the Germans.
Germany started the tournament well with an impressive win over Australia but have not hit the heights of that display in their last two games, whereas England started horribly but will be boosted by that win over Slovenia on Wednesday. Fabio Capello looks settled on his starting line-up before a match for the first time in the World Cup, and I can see his side progressing to the quarter-finals.
Germany 1-2 England
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