. . . But on the pitch, it's back to 1966 and all that

So, it will be 1966 re-visited. On Wednesday night, England and Germany will meet at Wembley in the Euro 96 semi-finals in what England fans hope will be a repeat of that dramatic July day 30 years ago when Bobby Moore lifted the World Cup.

A 20th-minute penalty by Jurgen Klinsmann and a 58th-minute strike by sweeper Mathhias Sammer yesterday gave Germany victory over Croatia.

The clash on Wednesday night at Wembley is likely to be billed as a compressed and bloodless Battle of Alamein. If the 4-2 World Cup scoreline marked an emotional peak in the national psyche, then the agony of defeat on penalties in Italia 90 in Turin heralded an all-time collective low.

On Saturday, 17.9 million people watched the match against Spain on BBC1, city centres were deserted and power firms reported a 1,100 megawatt surge after the victory. Newspapers speculated on a boom in babies next spring after reporting that testosterone pumps around in large doses after euphoria, increasing virility and sperm count.

So if the nation held its breath on Saturday, the Wednesday clash could cause respiratory problems.

And there was a surprise result yesterday when, the Czech Republic beat Portugal 1-0.

In the meantime, expect more jingoism in the tabloids. They encouraged England to "give the Spanish el" and the Dutch "edam good thrashing". Given two world wars and a battle over beef, coverage has thus far probably been tame.

After yesterday's quarter final, William Hill made Germany 7:4 favourites to win the tournament. England at 2:1 are second favourites.

Police will be hoping nationalist fervour does not spark violence between rival fans. In 1994, a proposed friendly was postponed because it coincided with Hitler's birthday.

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