David James has claimed it would have been harder for England to be facing Ghana in their FIFA World Cup last-16 clash than Germany. Landon Donovan's injury-time strike for the USA against Algeria on Wednesday evening consigned England to the tougher half of the draw and a meeting with their old rivals in Bloemfontein tomorrow afternoon, rather than face Ghana a stone's throw from their training base in Rustenburg.
England could be forgiven for kicking themselves over a missed opportunity. But James believes it has worked out just fine. "In some respects Ghana would have been a tougher obstacle because they seem to be a much more free-flowing side," he said. "But no matter what the opposition, we still need to go through the same process of identifying strengths and weaknesses. It is Germany and for all the folks at home, we are looking forward to making it a special day for England."
In some respects Ghana would have been a tougher obstacle because they seem to be a much more free-flowing side.
At least Capello has a clean bill of health for the first time since the opening game. All 23 players trained yesterday and are available for selection, including Ledley King, although the odds must be against the Tottenham Hotspur man starting given the amount of time he has been out with a groin injury.
King might be needed at some point, although Capello will be mindful of the impact his substitutions might have on a penalty shoot-out, which Germany have been so good at down the years.
At least James will be prepared this time, unlike EURO 2004 when he neither got to see any videos of Zinedine Zidane before he scored from the spot for France, or the Portugal side who knocked England out in the quarter-finals.
"There was no video evidence of Zidane taking a penalty for two years," lamented James. "But now, by virtue of YouTube and various scouting databases you can access a lot of players. In the last three games we have video footage of just about every aspect of the oppositions' attacking threats. You do your homework and hope at some point in the game you get the chance to prove it."