Banks of England: We're peaking at right time and can hurdle colts

Momentum is with England and although Ozil is a threat, experience can trump youthful exuberance

Iam very optimistic that England's greater experience can trump Germany's youthful exuberance today and take Fabio Capello's team into the last eight of this World Cup. Tournament play is all about peaking at the right times, and about building momentum. I sense that we're doing both whereas Germany may have peaked too soon.

They looked unstoppable against Australia, then managed to lose to Serbia and did just about enough to beat Ghana, whereas we went from our lowest ebb against Algeria to a greatly improved performance against Slovenia. Those early stumbles will have been purged from the players' minds by the victory on Wednesday. From my experience a win gives you confidence, which in turn provides impetus.

I'm not unduly concerned that we finished second in our group, and that it's given us Germany and possibly Argentina next Saturday, because you have to beat the best to become world champions We shouldn't be in fear of these nations.

Since '66 the Germans have always finished at least one stage ahead of England in the World Cup and there was a time, until that amazing 5-1 win in Munich in 2001, when they regularly got the better of us. But you don't have to be burdened by history; the point is to try to make it. Besides, it's all about how the two sides look now, and I didn't think Germany played well against Ghana compared with our most recent game. If you start well and get goals, as they did against Australia, players can't help thinking, 'This is going to be easy'. Then when you meet better opposition and don't get it all your own way, you can struggle.

I felt Germany possibly looked tired the other night. They weren't releasing the ball as early and keeping it moving quite like they were before. Then you get caught in tackles and players get knocks and strains like Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger did. Mind you, Ozil looks a very dangerous player – and he's only 21. The way he floats between midfield and the front has shades of the young Franz Beckenbauer, and he's got a fair shot as he showed with the winner against Ghana.

The keeper, Manuel Neuer, has caught my eye too. He's only 24 and came into the finals with a handful of caps but looks very competent and solid. They have a good tradition of keepers – I think of Hans Tilkowski, Sepp Maier, Oliver Khan – and he appears to be in that mould.

I see it's the youngest side the Germans have brought to the finals since 1934. England's greater experience can be to our advantage. It counts for a hell of a lot. Players like John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole were playing internationals well before some of the German lads had come through the ranks at their clubs. Older players get nerves too, but I always feel they relax faster and can play their normal game quicker than a tense young player.

Terry was exceptional against Slovenia. The way he threw his body in the way of danger lifted the players around him and gave them belief. Cole was also good defensively, although with Gerrard tending to drift infield from the left, he hasn't got forward yet like he does for Chelsea. Wayne Rooney is still not up to his Manchester United standards of last season, but at least he showed a determination to make things happen. If he can spark into form, it goes without saying he could be England's match-winner.

I come back to my feeling that England can win this one and reward their incredible support. The South Africans also seem to be getting behind us, which is great. Against Slovenia, the noise really hit me every time we crossed the halfway line. That can only be an inspiration.

Remember this is sport, not war

Some of the press are still fighting the Second World War to judge by the ridiculous headlines about today's match, such as "It's War" and "Bring on the Hun". It's offensive because it trivialises what people went through and it has no place in football. I played lots of big games against West Germany and I'm forever being asked about one I didn't play in, during the 1970 finals, when I was laid low by a nasty bug and had to watch it on TV in our hotel.

Yet I have no animosity towards the Germans. In fact, I met my wife there when I did National Service in the 1950s.

I also grew up idolising Bert Trautmann, a German who was a prisoner of war in England and ended up having a fantastic career with Manchester City. You'll never see a better, braver keeper, and he's a lovely man. He was also a true sportsman, which reminds me that I'd like to see this tournament improve its standards. I watched Spain against Chile and couldn't believe the kicking, the diving and conning referees. That's not right. It's sport, not war.

Franz 'mind games' miss target

I can't believe the stuff Franz Beckenbauer has been coming out with. Over the past week he's said England play "kick and rush", are looking "burnt out" and showed "stupidity" in finishing second in the group. I'm surprised because I've met him numerous times, such as reunions of the two teams from the 1966 final, and always found him pleasant and fair-minded.

I suspect he's trying to play mind games, to get to the England players and undermine their morale. It'll probably have the opposite effect. With all the experience our players have got, on the pitch and in the management team, they should shrug this off or use it to positive ends.

Maybe Franz is still sore about our third goal in that final all those years ago. He should have got over it by now, especially since we got a fourth at the end. We could argue that Wolfgang Weber's equaliser should have been disallowed because of handball, which is why you see me and Bobby Moore appealing. But it's all history now. I just hope we can make the "Kaiser" eat his words today.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas