Published: 24 June, 2010
by STEVE BARNETT
SO it’s England vs Germany again. A match that has become a World Cup fixture, and worryingly one that England traditionally lose... on penalties.
Fabio Capello’s men could have avoided the youthful looking German side had they shown just an ounce of passion in their opening two group games.
That said, I actually think that England can beat their old enemy.
Supporters across the country are still waiting for that one tournament-defining performance that will make them believe that Steven Gerrard can lead his team to World Cup glory.
Now, the players have been given the perfect opportunity to produce something special and repay the fans who have put their lives on hold to watch lacklustre displays against the USA, Algeria and Slovenia.
The problem is that each and every one of Capello’s lions will have to stand-up and be counted.
Wayne Rooney needs to drag himself off the missing persons register, captain Gerrard and Frank Lampard have to prove that they are good enough to play in the same team and Capello has to acknowledge the creative flair that Joe Cole possesses.
The players have to show the same kind of commitment seen at Wimbledon on Wednesday when John Isner and Nicolas Mahut tore up the record-books in their epic first-round tie.
The match was amazingly locked at 59-59 in the final set after 10 hours of play when it was suspended because of bad light.
Both players refused to lose and made sure that every single ounce of energy that they had was left on the court.
In doing so they made history, smashing more aces than any other player has done before, in the longest tennis game that the world has ever seen.
Even though one of the players will eventually lose, and neither of them are likely to win the title, they will both be rewarded for their efforts by becoming immortalised within the sport.
If the England players can show that kind of commitment against Germany then they won’t have to lift the World Cup to return home as heroes.
For the fans winning the trophy will always come second to simply seeing pride on the pitch.