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World Cup qualifiers – a tale of two teams

The football World Cup qualifiers are reaching their climax and once again England is leaving it until the last minute, while Germany has breezed through its group. The Local looks at why the countries have such different records.

World Cup qualifiers - a tale of two teams
Photo: DPA

Suffering only two defeats in 82 World Cup qualifier matches, Germany knows what it takes to reach the finals of international football’s biggest tournament. With an average of 2.49 points per game, their record is formidable – they have never failed to qualify.

One of the rare occasions that Germany did slip up was against England in 2001. A Michael Owen hat-trick helped the English to a famous 5-1 victory in Munich. But despite inflated expectations for the Korea-Japan World Cup England went out in the quarter-finals – again.

England rarely makes life easy. Eleven defeats from 100 qualifiers and a failure to qualify for three World Cups, does not tell the full story of the stress endured by England fans down the years.

Commentators in the German media have suggested that chopping and changing in England’s management is a major reason they have struggled in the past.

“England have changed their coach more than Germany over the past 30 years, with different philosophies, ideas and systems being tested. Germany have had more consistency. This is a huge factor,” one German sports journalist told The Local.

“Germany also have a very strong home record and they take qualifiers very seriously,” he added. “They never underestimate their opposition, whereas the same cannot always be said for England”.

This time round Germany’s road to qualification has been relatively straightforward, with Joachim Löw’s side sitting comfortably at the top of Group C. They are five points clear of second-placed Sweden.

Germany’s only major set-back came against Sweden when the Scandinavians fought back from 4-0 down with half an hour to claim a 4-4 draw.

Germany face the Republic of Ireland and Sweden in their remaining qualifying matches, needing only two points to book their place in next year’s tournament.

“Anything other than automatic qualification against Ireland would be disappointing,” said team manager Oliver Bierhoff. “Despite the injuries, we have to be ambitious enough to dominate the game and win it.”

Once again, qualification for England is far from a given. England are top of their group and their chances of qualifying for Brazil next year are in their own hands. But they need two wins from two matches to ensure qualification. The first game is against Montenegro on Friday and the second on Tuesday when they take on Poland.

Just one point clear of the Ukraine and Montenegro, Friday’s match against Montenegro is a must-win for Roy Hodgson’s side – especially given the fact that Ukraine are all but guaranteed three points against minnows San Marino in their final group match and Montengro face a weak Moldova side.

Memories of tournament qualification failure will still be fresh in the minds of England’s players. “Umbrellagate” in 2007, when Steve McClaren watched on as England failed to qualify for Euro 2008 on a rainy night at Wembley, still haunts captain Steven Gerrard.

In response to accusations that playing for England does not mean enough to the team’s highly-paid players, the Liverpool player said: “The pain and the agony – how long that lasted after we didn’t qualify for Euro 2008 – I wish you could bottle that and show it to people who doubt how much we care.”

The last time England missed out on World Cup qualification in 1993 was an equally bitter pill to swallow. A controversial defeat to the Netherlands in England’s penultimate qualifier ultimately dashed their chances of reaching USA 1994.

To manager Graham Taylor’s outrage Dutch defender Ronald Koeman scored the winner moments after he should have been sent off and Taylor resigned shortly after the final group match.

The closest that Germany have come to missing out on the World Cup finals was in 1989 when they came from behind to beat Wales when only a victory would do. Thomas Häßler’s second-half volley booked Germany’s place at Italia 90 which they went on to win.

This week Graham Taylor issued a warning to current manager Roy Hodgson of the kind of criticism he may face if he fails to guide England to Brazil.

“If England win it’s thanks to the players, if they don’t it’s the manager’s fault,” Taylor told the Daily Telegraph. “If he doesn’t qualify Roy will have to handle a lot of stuff coming in his direction”, he said.

But England have been up against it before and scraped through. Memories of David Beckham’s last-minute free-kick against Greece in 2001 will give England fans hope – if not complete confidence. German fans will surely feel the assurance that goes with past success.

READ MORE: Football legend wrongly declared dead by a stamp

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FOOTBALL

British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.

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