A JUST-ENOUGH 1-0 win thanks to a volley, against opponents who proved frustrating to break down while also unable to finish for toffee themselves, now paves the way for a clash with arch rivals which should test – but also ideally inspire these under-performers like no other opposition.
That was my (convoluted) English take on today’s edgy, nervy victory over poor Slovenia.
But there seem to have been similar thoughts going through German fans’ minds, as they came away from Soccer City after a similar scoreline and outcome against Ghana.
Of course, Mesut Ozul’s finish was rather more dashing than Jermain Defoe’s, whether for distance travelled – or the fact it didn’t simply bang in off his shin.
And on current form, Ozul looks a more cutting-edge influence than any of England’s so-called creative talents – when his team-mates make sure to bring him into the game, and not isolated out on a wing.
The Germans emerging from Soccer City, who were hoping their team might need the English challenge to finally raise their game, must be tricky to please if that annihilation of (admittedly) Australia didn’t count.
But while the refreshing verve of the country’s youngest ever World Cup squad certainly looks to be lacking the stodginess of England’s – incidentally, our oldest of all time.
Yet hope may rest with the holes glimpsed in the German defence, with Per Mertesacker often looking apt to go back into his ice-skating Bambi act.
And despite his skills in the kitchen, cookbook-author Arne Friedrich looks no more commanding in the centre of defence than he looked a faltering full-back four years ago.
It’s a long way to Bloemfontein, as a leg-anaesthetising drive there and back yesterday proved – but in those days of too much hype ahead, there might just be a little hope.