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Category: England

World Cup: English say Germany is just another match

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"It's another football match, but obviously there will be a lot of external references and historical references," goalkeeper David James told reporters in Rustenburg, South Africa, where the team is training.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

World Cup: U.S., England right on the money

South Africa figures to cash in on the victories by England and the U.S. on Wednesday. The wins sent both teams on to the second round, meaning more cash-laden visitors could be to the World Cup, and fans already here will likely extend their stays.

One tour company said nearly three-quarters of the English fans it was working with planned to stick around through the second round, and some Americans in Johannesburg were scrambling to change hotel and airline reservations Thursday.

According to figures released by Visa, during the first week of World Cup matches, spending by international visitors using Visa cards exceeded $129 million.

-- Kevin Baxter in Johannesburg, South Africa

World Cup: France's discord spreading? England says no

Midfielder Frank Lampard sought to calm the latest rumors of discord within the England team Monday, saying that former captain John Terry's emotional talk of a team meeting with Coach Fabio Capello after an abysmal performance in a 0-0 draw with Algeria was the center back's way of hitting problems "head on."

But Lampard denied it was a heated meeting with Capello and stressed that all the players were behind the Italian coach.

"I understand what John is saying because he's passionate," the Associated Press quoted Lampard as saying. "He's like that as a player. All 23 players deal with things differently. Some people don't want to say too much, some people want to hit things head on. Everyone appreciates that.

"The messages I got yesterday from people was that John was saying some positive things. I think we will try and hit things head on on the training ground."

England is on the brink of going out of the World Cup in the opening round for the first time since 1958 after draws with the United States and Algeria. The English need to beat Slovenia in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on Wednesday to ensure themselves a spot in the round of 16.

The latest problem to hit England's beleaguered team is the fallout from comments by Terry that some players had their own meeting to discuss grievances with team management. There were reports in the British media Monday that the former captain's teammates had told him to keep quiet. All this came at the same time the France's team staged a mutiny, turning on their coach and refusing to practice.

"I don't think anyone really likes to give away much about meetings. They are an in-house thing," Lampard said. "Really the manager just spoke. We watched the Algeria game, which we all know was a disappointing performance. We addressed that game, the manager addressed that.

"It's been completely overdone about a crisis meeting."

But Terry also said that, after the game in Cape Town, some of the players talked over the match among  themselves.

Although he did not reveal exactly what they said, some media reported they decided to tell Capello the team needed to play with a 4-5-1 instead of 4-4-2 formation, with Wayne Rooney up front on his own and Joe Cole added to the midfield.

The reports said that the rest of the players were furious with Terry for revealing details of the meeting, which appeared to undermine Capello's running of the team.

Because heavy rain has left the playing surface at Nelson Mandela Stadium in poor condition, England and Slovenia will not be able to train on it Tuesday.

-- Kevin Baxter, in Johannesburg, South Africa

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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