James: Germany just another game
Goalkeeper David James insists England will be treating Sunday's World Cup last-16 clash against Germany just like any other game. Fabio Capello's side take on Joachim Low's team in Bloemfontein this weekend with a place in the quarter-finals at stake. Much has been spoken in the build-up about past meetings between the nations but James pays little attention to such talk. "It's another football match," he said. "Obviously there'll be a lot of external references and whatever else, historical references. "But for us it's a game against a decent outfit - one we have to win to progress." Wednesday's 1-0 win over Slovenia secured England's place in the knockout phase, but Landon Donovan's stoppage-time winner for the USA against Algeria meant Capello's side finished second in Group C and face Group D winners Germany rather than runners-up Ghana. The outcome left England in a tough quarter of the draw, with Argentina potential quarter-final opponents, but James is not concerned about what might have been. "We can't do anything about what happened," he said. "We look back at the America game and the performance of Tim Howard which prevented a win. "Algeria are very difficult to score against, and then we did what we needed to against Slovenia on Wednesday." James started between the posts against Algeria and Slovenia after Robert Green's howler gifted Clint Dempsey an equaliser for America in the opener, and the England number one is pleased to have finally grasped his chance at his third World Cup. "When the squad was announced and the numbers issued it was more of numerical thing than a suggestion of the first XI," said the 39-year-old, the oldest player at the finals. "True to Mr Capello's previous selection process, he must have gauged something in training and felt Robert was the right goalkeeper to start with. I'm happy with that. "I'm part of a squad. This World Cup isn't about David James - it's about England being successful. "I trained as well as I could, got the chance to go back in and I'm happy." Of squad morale, he added: "It's a very happy squad as it has been throughout the trip so far. We did what we needed to with regard to qualification." James is prepared for the possibility of facing penalties against Germany - just as England had to in the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup and Euro '96 - but is hoping it does not go that far. "The intention for us is to win the game in 90 minutes," he said. "If it requires extra time and then if it goes to penalties, there's an opportunity for Germany to miss so we're ready. "Germany are a decent outfit but we've got the confidence of having gone to Berlin a couple of years ago and beaten them 2-1." James said that England would "do their homework" on the Germans' penalty taking, as they had done for the group games. "We've had videos on the three sides we've played already," he said. "I was hoping Slovenia might have had a penalty in the last minute and I'd get a chance to save it." James knows he will be better prepared than he was against Portugal in the 2004 European Championship should spot-kicks be required. He failed to make a save when England were beaten on penalties by the host nation in Lisbon six years ago - a game in which an early injury to Wayne Rooney proved crucial. James said: "After 120 minutes you go down to penalties and it's better than a toss of a coin, that's for sure. "The Portugal match was a sad day for me because I didn't save any. You think 'what if I had done this, what if I had done that'. "We didn't have as much access to information as perhaps we could have done with regards to potential penalty takers. "The technology we have now means you can do your homework. It doesn't guarantee you 100 per cent success but it gives you some idea. "We didn't have that in Portugal. If it comes to penalties, hopefully we will be ready for them." However, he added: "I'm hoping the game will be dealt with in 90 minutes." The Portsmouth goalkeeper played down the significance of playing England's great rivals. "I'm delighted for England as a nation that we've got a chance to play Germany," he said. "It gives everyone at home the opportunity to enjoy a great football match. "Our preparation is for a squad of 23 players and whatever they've got to offer in strengths and weaknesses." James, who was "in a pub with my mate drinking orange juice", when England met West Germany in 1990 admits England's potential route through the draw throws up a number of clashes with age-old rivals. With England set to meet Argentina in the last eight should they progress, James said: "If you look at the potential road to the final...the idea of beating Germany is romantic - and it's an achievable goal - and it will bring on another match which will have its own historical significance." James insists England maintaining their interest in the World Cup is more important than Wayne Rooney breaking his scoring duck in the competition. The keeper said: "Wayne has just smashed about 15 shots past me in training. The players are willing him to score. "Wayne would admit that is a personal ambition and, of course, it would be productive for us. "He had a great chance against Slovenia but the keeper pulled off a great save and tipped it onto the post. Wayne's contribution on Wednesday was superb. "But we have got through to the next round without Wayne scoring. The team winning is the important thing. "As much as Wayne as an individual would have liked a goal, he is very happy for the side to go through without him scoring. "I am sure Wayne would like to make this game his game but it is about us getting through first and foremost."
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