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Klinsmann leans towards to England

27/06/2010 10:57:42 AM Comments (0)

Football legend Jurgen Klinsmann has waded into the debate on Sunday's epic clash between England and Germany - and he thinks "outstanding" England could come out on top.

At the beginning of the World Cup, German great Franz Beckenbauer rekindled the rivalry between the two footballing powers by criticising England's style of play and is backing Germany to win in Bloemfontein.

"You need to respect this team but not fear them because they were poor during their first two matches of this World Cup," Beckenbauer wrote in his column for German daily Bild during the week.

"Der Kaiser" was backed by his former team-mate Uwe Seeler, who said England lacked speed and the element of surprise.

But Klinsmann, like Beckenbauer a former Germany player and manager, says England have the strength to snuff out the dreams of the three-times winners.

"We are talking about an England team that, when they are up to it and have reached their capabilities, is an outstanding team," he was quoted as saying in Britain's Sun newspaper.

"Just look at the players. You have Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard and then Wayne Rooney up front.

"England have players who can really make a difference.

"They have had their problems in South Africa but many teams have had difficulties. Take Italy, France and Spain."

He said England showed during qualification for the tournament that they can play good football and he was expecting the team to "give us a big fight on Sunday."

"They will now have far more energy and far more self-confidence after beating Slovenia," he said.

Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker also admits that England could win but believes Germany are more of a cohesive unit.

"I think there's more pressure on the England players because the core of the team won't play in four years' time," he wrote in Daily Telegraph.

"By 2014, they are going to be too old. They are called the golden generation and yet they haven't won a big championship. They know that it's now or never for them at the World Cup."

"Germany have only one or two star players, and England have three in Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and John Terry, but Germany seem to be more of a unit, more of a team. And it is a team competition," he added.

"England against Germany is the ultimate match. We all wanted to see it. Both countries haven't played great, but we got through," he said.

Manchester United striker Michael Owen has added his voice to those of former greats Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan in believing England can win.

Owen, who scored a hat-trick in the 5-1 hammering of Germany in Munich in 2001, writing in Daily Telegraph, said: "If I was in the England team on Sunday, I would take inspiration from the memory of Munich.

"But I would also realise that the first goal will be so, so important. We cannot count on a 5-1 again. If England concede a goal it is not all over, but it is going to be a tight game."

"I know there is loads of history between England and Germany but that will not affect the players on Sunday. Half the squad will not remember 1990. Only these last few games like Munich will be remembered," he added.

"I still believe England will go far at this World Cup. My only concern is that I just hope that last-second goal from Landon Donovan (that took the United States to the top of the group) does not cost us too much," he said.

"I look at the path the United States have compared to the one we potentially have. We are playing against a tough German side, who are certainly beatable, but then it looks like Argentina, which would be a real acid test and there is also a lot of history there.

"Donovan's goal has really hurt us but I am still confident."

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