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England, Germany test Cup credentials

Updated: 2013-11-19 07:51
By Agence France-Presse in London ( China Daily)

England, Germany test Cup credentials
England's Frank Lampard passes his 100th cap to his father, Frank Sr, after receiving it from former England international Geoff Hurst before the Nov 15 friendly between England and Chile at Wembley. Lampard will be in the lineup when England plays host to Germany on Tuesday. Ian Kington / Agence France-Presse 

Both sides expected to unveil some new wrinkles in Tuesday's friendly

England's World Cup ambitions will be in an unforgiving spotlight on Tuesday when it tackles arch rival Germany at Wembley Stadium.

Roy Hodgson's side saw a 10-game unbeaten run ended in disappointing fashion by Chile on Friday and in Germany it faces a team that dropped only two points in qualifying for next year's World Cup in Brazil.

The game is the latest chapter in a story that has conjured up some of the most enduring images in the sport's history, from England's triumph in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley to the Germans' spot-kick success in the European Championship semifinals on the same turf 30 years later.

The sides have been evenly matched in recent encounters, with three wins apiece in the six matches that have taken place since the turn of the century.

Their last encounter, however, was crushingly one-sided, with Germany winning 4-1 in a last-16 match at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa that left deep scars on the English psyche.

Germany ultimately went out in the semifinals and it also fell in the last four at Euro 2012, but England midfielder Frank Lampard believes that Joachim Loew's men are now an even more formidable prospect.

"They've got a very, very strong international squad," said the Chelsea midfielder. "Their style of play is very good. I think they've improved."

Lampard was famously denied a goal in that 2010 Bloemfontein encounter despite his lobbed half-volley crossing the line with England 2-1 behind, but the 35-year-old said Tuesday's friendly will not be a revenge mission.

"Coming home from then, there was a very negative feel; not just press and public, but in the squad itself," he said.

"We were disappointed with ourselves and I think we've got a bit more of a positive feel now.

"They're our rivals, and not in a terrible way - it's a good rivalry. We've got a lot of respect for them, but we want to beat them. There's a lot at stake for us."

England manager Hodgson has pledged to field his strongest possible side after making several experimental adjustments against Chile.

Joe Hart, Ashley Cole and captain Steven Gerrard are among the players expected to return to the starting 11, while Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has declared himself fit following a foot injury.

Germany drew 1-1 with Italy in a friendly in Milan on Friday, after a run of four consecutive wins in which it had scored 14 goals.

Like Hodgson, Loew has only one further friendly game lined up - against Chile in March - before he announces his squad for the World Cup, but injuries have forced his hand for the meeting with England.

Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira will be out for around six months after rupturing knee ligaments against Italy, while Bayern Munich pair Manuel Neuer and Philipp Lahm, the captain, have also withdrawn from the squad.

Loew has also decided to rest Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil, who was unable to train fully before the match in Milan.

"The England game is our last chance before the World Cup to try out one or two new tactical variations and personnel," said Loew, whose side is currently ranked second to Spain in the world.

"Philipp Lahm, Manuel Neuer and Mesut Ozil are absolutely a big part of the backbone of our team.

"For me, it is more important now to give other players a chance to prove themselves in these key positions, particularly against such a strong team as England."

Neuer's absence means that goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller will win his first cap, at a ground where his Borussia Dortmund side was dealt an agonizing defeat by Bayern in the Champions League final in May.

Ozil's Arsenal teammate Per Mertesacker is also in line to play after sitting out the draw with Italy through illness.

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