More than one old enemy blocks England’s path to final
The euphoria surrounding the England team, following their 1-0 dismissal of a nation with a population of 2.06 million, will be loud and proud for most of the day.
But the duo of arch rivals the Three Lions must now overcome should pour a bucket of ice-cold realism over heated expectations.
England are 10/1 to win the World Cup.
Against Ghana, Germany did what Germany (9/1) do best at World Cups – enough to progress. A 1-0 win courtesy of a fabulous Mesut Ozil strike (9/2 to be his nation’s top scorer) sent them through as Group D winners and into a last 16 tie with Fabio Capello’s men.
And just like history, the bookies can’t separate the nations who have met at four previous World Cups. The 2006 semi-finallists are paper-thin favourites at 7/4 with England just behind at 8/5. The draw is 11/5.
As it stands at World Cups, England have a solitary win after extra-time (did someone say 1966?), Germany a solitary win in normal time (coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at the 1970 tournament) with two draws being shared. 4-2 to England is 80/1, while 3-2 to Germany is 28/1.
The first draw was a forgettable 0-0 in the 1982 group stages, but the second was a slightly more memorable 1-1 result that saw West Germany progress to the 1990 final after Chris Waddle blazed his penalty in the shoot-out over. 1-1 this time is 5/1, while 0-0 is 6/1.
Should England write another famous page in the history books and get past Joachim Low’s impressive side, the small matter of a Diego Maradona-led Argentina will probably be next.
That Maradona, as watchable as a manager as he was a player, will be the man to pick the South Americans’ side seems too perfect to be true, given he single-handedly (pun intended) put England out of the 1986 World Cup with one fisted goal and another wondrous effort.
Argentina also eliminated England at the 1998 tournament with a victory on penalties, but a David Beckham penalty in the group stage of the 2002 edition gave the Three Lions a 1-0 win, effectively sending the Argentines home.
If England are to win this World Cup it will be after the most difficult run imaginable, with Spain potential semi-final opponents to boot. They will need Jermain Defoe (5/4), who scored yesterday, to be on top form but it is critical Wayne Rooney (7/2) starts netting too.