Philipp Lahm has warned England that Germany will be well prepared for penalties when the sides meet in the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup™ on Sunday, and that such a scenario could suit his team. Lahm captained his side to victory over Ghana at Soccer City Wednesday night to set up Sunday's match in Bloemfontein.
The sides look evenly matched, which presents the possibility of another penalty shoot-out following on from the semi-finals of the 1990 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 96. Germany won both of those encounters to knock England out, and Lahm is confident his team would have the fortitude to step up again if the game goes the full distance.
The Bayern Munich full-back said: "Maybe it will go to penalties - that could suit us. I think we are mentally good, we will be prepared for it. We practise penalties sometimes, not every player, but sometimes. I hope the English won't be so confident. There is a big history [between the teams], they are always big games, interesting games. We will see, we are ready to fight. Then we will see who is in the next round."
Joachim Low identified Wayne Rooney as the "big gun" in the England team despite his lacklustre form at the tournament so far and Lahm agrees he is a man to keep a close watch on. Asked if the Manchester United man was the biggest threat to Germany, Lahm said: "Yes, really, he's a good striker. He has scored many goals this year. He's a big player, and big players score goals in big matches.
"But there is also [Steven] Gerrard, [Frank] Lampard, [James] Milner, every player plays in the Premier League so every player is a good player. They have top players who play at the top level. They all play in the Premier League so I think they are favourites."
Germany's winner against Ghana was scored by Werder Bremen playmaker Mesut Oezil, and Lahm sees him as a key man in the plans of Die Nationalmannschaft. "He is a good player, he always wants the ball, he has good technique and scores goals," Lahm added. "He is a different type of player to the others and is an important player for us. I think he could become one of the best. He is young, he has talent, good talent, so we will see. It's his third year in the Bundesliga so we will see in the next years."
Oezil took a knock in the game against Ghana and will be assessed by the team's medical staff, while Jerome Boateng suffered a back injury and Bastian Schweinsteiger sustained a muscle problem. The Germans were also badly affected before the tournament began, with their usual captain Michael Ballack ruled out by an ankle injury suffered in the FA Cup final.
Lahm said: "Ballack is a big player for us who also plays in the Premier League. It will not be easy without him, the young players look up to him so it's not easy for us."
Oezil himself expects a tough game for Germany against England, adding: "It's going to be tough against England, clearly they are stronger than Ghana, extremely strong. But if we can put our strengths on the field I'm sure we will win that too."