Football: Venables and England take heart from German artistry: More reasons to be cheerful as a familiar formation helps the world champions defeat Italy. Joe Lovejoy reports from Stuttgart

Breakfast with Terry Venables, and the international coach is in his element, toasting Germany as potential World Cup winners and pouring tea and sympathy for the Italians, who had the misfortune to run across the perennial favourites in muscle-flexing form the previous night.

The feeling that England had at last found a round peg to fit into their circular hole was reinforced in Stuttgart, where Venables was instantly at home among the brightest minds in European football.

Those of us who cringed when his predecessor failed to recognise one of the most celebrated Italian defenders of modern times in a match situation were both captivated and encouraged by his morning-after discourse on the individual strengths and tactical deployment behind the Germans'

2-1 win on Wednesday night.

The world champions will provide the stiffest of examinations for the new, improved England when the two countries meet in Berlin on 20 April, but if it is a real test, to borrow a phrase from the previous regime, it is a prospect that finds Venables eager rather than fretful.

The Germans were as powerful as ever, and demanded respect, but Venables' team could match them if they played with the enthusiasm, intelligence and belief which brought success against Denmark first time out.

Guarded optimism was the order of the day. One good result was only the first step on the long march to renewed prosperity, but it was a start. The objective was sustained success, for which Germany were the obvious role model.

They had set the benchmark, Venables said. 'I looked at them last night and thought: that's what we've got to be aiming for. They have all the qualities you can name, and watching Berti Vogts being interviewed, he looked very pleased with himself. You could see he was thinking: I'm travelling to the World Cup with a team that can do us proud.'

Vogts has good reason to view the forthcoming finals with equanimity. The Germans approach England's visit with just one defeat in their last seven games, against Argentina (1-2). Apart from Italy they have beaten Uruguay (5-0), Brazil (2-1) and the United States (3-0). On Wednesday they looked the part as World Cup favourites, controlling the game and creating enough chances to have doubled the two goals Jurgen Klinsmann tucked away to remind an admiring audience that he is probably at his peak, in his 30th year.

The same can be said of the team as a whole. With three 33-year-olds in their starting line-up, time is not on their side, but they have matured together, and the familiar faces seem to be ready for one last hurrah.

Brazil hinted at gathering strength with a 2-0 victory over Argentina on Wednesday night but, in terms of experience and all-round capability, Germany are second to none. There may be better, more accomplished defenders in the world than Guido Buchwald and Jurgen Kohler, but none spring to mind, and a kaleidoscopic midfield with the power and poise of Stefan Effenberg at its fulcrum will rarely be passed, or surpassed.

The Italians, lacking penetration and inventiveness in the absence of Roberto Baggio, were second best throughout.

Venables saw sufficient similarities between Vogts's strategy and his own to fuel the burgeoning belief that England are on the right lines.

Both teams used only one main striker, supported by two auxiliary forwards and a three-man midfield.

Getting down to specifics, Venables said: 'With that shape, you want your two men just behind the striker to tuck in so that the opposing full-backs are not sure whether to follow. Against Denmark, the first goal came about because their right-back wasn't around. He got tempted into coming in to mark Peter Beardsley, and the ball was delivered into the area where he was missing.

'At the same time, you've got to get width. I was able to get it on the left from Beardsley, and on the right from Darren Anderton. The Germans do much the same, but more easily because they all interchange positions so well.'

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week