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World Cup: English say Germany is just another match

June 25, 2010 |  8:22 am

It's hard to believe, given the history between the two rivals, but England is approaching Sunday's World Cup clash with Germany as just another game.

At least that's what the players are saying.

"It's another football match, but obviously there will be a lot of external references and historical references," goalkeeper David James told reporters in Rustenburg, South Africa, where the team is training. "For us, it's a game against a decent outfit, and we have to win to progress."

James has not conceded a goal in two games since he won back his place from Robert Green, who blundered in a 1-1 draw against the U.S. by fumbling a shot from Clint Dempsey. German Coach Joachim Loew and his players have been full of praise for the English despite their rival's shaky first-round performance.

"England is always England. It's a team with a lot of fighting spirit and very strong mentally, with incredible experience," Loew said. "The axis with John Terry, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney has the highest quality you can find in European football."

Matches between England and Germany traditionally have been dramatic.

England scored a disputed goal in the 1966 World Cup final and won 4-2 in extra time. Germany came from 2-0 down to win at the 1970 tournament.

The Germans won penalty-kick shootouts at the 1990 event and the 1996 European Championship. Germany won the titles in both of those tournaments.

James said England won't lack confidence if the match ends in a penalty shootout despite Germany's traditional expertise at spot kicks.

"If it goes to penalties, there's an opportunity for Germany to miss, so we are ready," James said.

Germany defender and captain Philipp Lahm said he was aware of the historical significance of the past games, but that it probably won't play a great role in Sunday's meeting.

"This is year 2010, and these games will not mean very much," he said.

An England victory would open up the chance of facing another traditional World Cup rival in Argentina — and another meeting with Diego Maradona. Argentina beat England in the 1986 quarterfinals after Maradona scored one goal with his hand and then dribbled through most of the English defense to add a brilliant second score.

England also lost a penalty shootout to Argentina in 1998, but beat the South American team 1-0 in a group game in 2002.

"If you look at the potential road to the final, the idea of beating Germany is romantic and it's an achievable goal," James said. "And it will bring on another match which will have its own historical significance."

-- Kevin Baxter in Pretoria, South Africa