A goal from Jermain Defoe in the 23minute of the match against Slovenia was enough to clinch a place in the last 16 for England in Port Elizabeth yesterday.

That meant that England finished second in the Group but it was very nearly enough to secure the top spot – it was only the USA’s late winner in their game against Algeria that prevented it.   After the barrage of criticism that was directed at the England team following their lamentable showing against Algeria, the Three Lions came good with a confident and convincing performance that did much to restore England fans hopes of World Cup glory.

The excitement was cranked up a notch later in the evening when news came through that Germany had won their final Group D match against Ghana .   That sets up a clash between England and old adversary Germany on Sunday. Now that qualification to the next stage of the tournament has been secured England are being quoted at 9/1 to win the entire thing in recent World Cup odds.

But first it’s the clash of the titans with a date with the Germans! The game will be played at Bloemfontein and this will be a toughest test for Capello’s men so far and a helluva a way to start the knockout phase.

Both sides will look on this match as something special and it is not surprising given the World Cup history   between the two sides going right back to the 1966 World Cup final. In fact this will be the first time that the two rivals have met in the World Cup since the penalty shootout in the 1990 semi-finals that West Germany won 4-3. The Germans went on to win the tournament that year. According to the online betting on Sunday’s match the odds on England beating the Germans are 6/4 with odds of 15/8 on a German win and 11/5 on a draw.

For those who watched the England victory over Slovenia there really were a lot of positives in the way England played despite another nervy start. Capello will have been heartened by the performance of Jermain Defoe who was much more effective than Heskey – and he can actually score goals. James Milner also showed what he can do and the level of confidence and commitment that the players displayed is really encouraging.   The only situation yet to resolve itself is Wayne Rooney. He’s not exactly had the best of tournaments considering that his involvement has been hyped to high heaven. However, you can never really discount him. He was very close to opening his goal account against Slovenia only to be denied by the post. Will he become the scoring machine he has been touted to be? The odds on him scoring in the Germany game are 6/5.

As for Germany they are by no means invincible in this World Cup. They may be three time FIFA World Cup winners, yes. They may have topped Group D, yes.   But they lost to Serbia and in their final game against Ghana they looked hesitant and lacking in flair. The odds on Germany winning the World Cup are 19/2 and they are sixth favourites while England are fifth favourites. No one should under-estimate the size of the task ahead for Capello’s men and the fact is this game has all the ingredients necessary to be an epic. Just don’t mention the possibility of a penalty shoot-out.

And if England do win? Well it is possible that if the results go the right (or wrong?) way England will then face Maradona’s Argentina.

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