Friday, 25 June 2010

England vs. Germany. The Fitness Factor.

I think there is one aspect of Sunday's game which will have a critical affect on the outcome. And its all about fitness. Here are the relevant facts:-
  1. The ground is at Bloemfontein. This is 4,600 ft above sea level;
  2. Bloemfontein average day-time temperature is 17degC; the forecast for Sunday is a sunny 21degC;
  3. the average age of Germany's national team is 25 years with 12 players under the age of 25; the average age of England's national team is 28 with 5 players in the squad under 25.
There are some key players in the England team whose fitness is a big question for Sunday. First, James Milner, whose cross provided England's second goal of the campaign on Wednesday afternoon, is still recovering from a virus and is unlikely to last more than 60 minutes. Gareth Barry, whose defensive midfield duties will also be important, is also trying to attain match fitness. I suggest we won't see very much of him in the attacking half of the pitch on Sunday. Then there's the biggest question mark yet - Wayne Rooney. He just hasn't looked right in the last 3 games. Whether this is an injury, a lack of confidence, a lack of a willingness to get stuck in (due to the perceived risk of being sent off) or just a lack of general fitness, I have no idea. Rooney's lack of form is the most disappointing aspect of England's performances to date in South Africa.

Hence, whatever happens in the rest of the game, I envisage that the last quarter will belong to Germany purely because they will have a massive fitness advantage over England.

Not wishing to sound all doom-and-gloom, I believe England can beat Germany and the good news is that Germany knows this. Here's my "dream" scenario:-
  1. England go all out for a first half lead; ideally 2-0;
  2. Rooney is allowed off his leash; even if he is red-carded hopefully it will be after a goal and I'd rather see a Rooney who tears Germany apart for 30 minutes compared with his previous performances;
  3. England under siege in the last quarter of the game; substitutes used MUST be able to either win and/or hold the ball in this last stage of the game
  4. Final score 2-1 or 1-0
You will notice that I haven't mentioned penalties. That was deliberate. The less these are talked about the better. I don't want to see penalties. I want to see England go for a win in 90 minutes, or as I have suggested, in the first 45 minutes when they will be most able to match the fitness levels of the German team.

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