Germans ready to counter crosses

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The Independent Online

For Mehmet Scholl, a morbid fascination with English football began to grow when he realised how the players would commit "brutal fouls" on each other before getting up and playing on without complaint.

For Mehmet Scholl, a morbid fascination with English football began to grow when he realised how the players would commit "brutal fouls" on each other before getting up and playing on without complaint.

As the Germans broke off during yesterday's training, their players admitted to sharing a similar psyche with the opponents they face at Wembley tomorrow. Dietmar Hamann also pinpointed David Beckham as the man who shalt not cross if England are to be contained. These three points, it should be stressed, were all made separately.

There is no prospect of a dirty tricks campaign, but Germany, going into the World Cup qualifying Group Nine game with a victory over Greece already under their belts, know that keeping Beckham quiet will be a major part of stifling England. One typically penetrative free-kick from the Manchester United midfielder to Alan Shearer at the European Championship in Charleroi in June andGermany were done for.

With the Bayern Munich pair of Scholl and Carsten Jancker both resuming training yesterday, German spirits are rising in direct correlation to their distance from thedomestic hullabaloo over the coach-designate, Christoph Daum.

"I don't know whether it is an advantage or not for us to be playing in the last game at Wembley," said Hamann, the Liverpool midfielder who appeared at the national stadium for Newcastle United in last year's FA Cup final defeat by Manchester United. "What may work in our favour is that we already have three points.

"It is very special to be playing in the last game at Wembley and there is so much at stake. A good start to the qualification programme is vital. I don't think we will try to wind up Beckham but over the last couple of years he's played at the highest level. We all know what a great player he is. His crosses are the best in the world and we have to stop him giving the assists to the strikers."

Hamann knocked back the theory that Beckham is a player who can be riled into under-performing. In the European Championship, Germany fielded Christian Ziege ahead of him, to cut off the supply, with Jens Nowotny behind, almost as an auxiliary left-back. "We know he is world class," added Hamann, "and that if we can keep him out the game that would make life easier for us.

Hamann is likely to make his first start under Rudi Völler should Carsten Ramelow fail to recover from a thigh strain. Coming up in direct opposition to Beckham should be Ziege, another Liverpool player, who said: "Germany and England share the same mentality. We know we are perhaps not world class in terms of skill but we have exceptional commitment and team spirit which can sometimes help move mountains. Over 90 minutes we will give our all - even if that means we have to be carried off the pitch at the end."

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