Head­line acts must now raise their game

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Classifieds -

I WOULD love noth­ing more than to be eat­ing hum­ble pie for Sun­day din­ner.

But I can’t help fear­ing I will be pour­ing my gravy over the usual roast beef and trim­mings while wash­ing down a dis­ap­point­ing World Cup exit.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m as pa­tri­otic as the next man. My flag is fly­ing proudly from the up­stairs win­dow.

I just hope it won’t be down to half­mast by to­mor­row tea-time as we at­tempt to pick our way through the wreck­age of an­other crash-land­ing af­ter Ar­gentina in ‘98, Brazil in ‘02 and those Portu-geezers in ‘06.

There has been a huge over-re­ac­tion to Eng­land’s vic­tory over lit­tle Slove­nia to se­cure their ticket to the knock­out stages.

A sin­gle-goal suc­cess over a small nation of just two mil­lion peo­ple has been hailed be­yond all be­lief.

It was the first time we even threat­ened to hit the right notes for cry­ing out loud, but it wasn’t enough to take us to the top of Group C.

We know it should have been Ghana to­day rather than the old en­emy to­mor­row, but there is no point wor­ry­ing about what might have been.

The press are com­ing up with count­less rea­sons why we will pre­vail. Even the fact we’ll be back in red again – just like when win­ning on Wed­nes­day and when lift­ing the World Cup back in 1966 - is said to count in our favour. Other plusses ap­par­ently are: Ger­many have al­ready been beaten - we haven’t.

Ger­many are go­ing through a re­build­ing pro­gramme - we are not.

Ger­many have a ma­jor in­jury doubt over one of their most in­flu­en­tial play­ers, Bas­tian Sch­we­in­steiger – we have a clean bill of health.

Ger­many have the youngest av­er­age age of any squad in South Africa and will most likely field at least seven play­ers aged un­der 26 - we are stacked with ex­pe­ri­ence.

That last point is most salient. Their gifted young stars, in­clud­ing Me­sut Ozil, Thomas Mueller and Sami Khedira, might just freeze.

But even if that is the case, our head­line acts have to step up to the plate. We are cer­tainly due a vic­tory over an­other ma­jor nation and we need the likes of Rooney, Lam­pard, Ger­rard to pro­duce the best 90 min­utes of their lives.

If they don’t de­liver, it will be auf wieder­se­hen to Eng­land. WIN these three key bat­tles and we have a big chance . . . Glen John­son v Lukas Podol­ski Ques­tion marks re­main over John- son in de­fen­sive sit­u­a­tions and he is sure to be tested by Podol­ski.

Hav­ing to shackle such a tough op­po­nent also means John­son is likely to have to rein in his at­tack­ing in­stincts to­mor­row.

Cologne man Podol­ski is a ma­jor dan­ger op­er­at­ing from the Ger­man left. He can­not be al­lowed to cut in­side with ease and must not be gifted shoot­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

But if we get as far as a shoot-out, I’ll be more than happy if he steps up. Gareth Barry v Me­sut Ozil The fit Gareth Barry has shown no signs of liv­ing up to the billing of the in­jured ver­sion.

Stock rose mas­sively dur­ing his ab­sence, but the only thing to go up since his re­turn is the mis-placed pass count.

Ozil has quickly es­tab­lished him­self as one of the stand-out in­di­vid­ual per­form­ers of this World Cup.

His ra­zor-sharp skills and cre­ative tal­ents have been in plen­ti­ful ev­i­dence so far and he can be af­forded no space or time. Let him go and we’ll pay the same price as Ghana did the other did. Wayne Rooney v Arne Frei­drich To bor­row a few words from Eminem, could the real Wayne Rooney please stand up.

Our Scouse growler of a tal­is­man has been un­be­liev­ably tame so far. No ag­gres­sion, no spark and no sign that he is set to take this tour­na­ment by storm.

But Rooney is ca­pa­ble of ex­plod­ing into life at any minute and we need that to hap­pen just af­ter 3pm to­mor­row. The Ger­mans are fear­ful of such a sce­nario - their best de­fender, Frei­drich, has said as much in the build-up.

He’s a mean, no-frills cus­tomer who, at the age of 31, has seen it all. THE group stage is over. So, with the aid of a drum-roll, I will an­nounce the first batch of ‘Blog for your Bog’ awards - it’s my team of the open­ing round in a 4-4-2 for­ma­tion.

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