Power surge needed to ignite final

While the English are trying to summon up interest, Germany and the Czech Republic will be calling on their final reserves of energy and will. Many might think that the real final of Euro 96 took place on Wednesday night, but that would be to ignore the undoubted qualities of tonight's participants.

Germany's part in the classic confrontation against England has been largely overlooked, but theirs was a performance of remarkable durability in an atmosphere that would have overwhelmed most others. The Czechs have also shown unsuspected depths since losing their opening group encounter to the Germans.

The German squad is in some disarray because of the suspensions of the inspirational Andy Moller and Stefan Reuter and a litany of injuries. Jurgen Kohler, Mario Basler and Fredi Bobic are long gone, and while the excellent Thomas Helmer is expected to be fit enough to appear in defence, the star striker Jurgen Klinsmann is likely to play only a short period as a substitute at best. He said yesterday he had "a little hope" of playing.

To his credit, the German coach, Berti Vogts, has declined to take full advantage of Uefa's astonishing ruling that both teams may recruit two new squad members. Instead, he has called up only Jens Todt, a midfield player recently transferred from Freiburg to Werder Bremen, who will probably be a substitute.

After being without four suspended players in the semi-final, the Czech Republic are nearer full strength, though there is a doubt about their goalkeeper Petr Kouba, who has a calf strain, and Newcastle's Pavel Srnicek stands by. It may be no bad switch: Kouba looked sluggish in conceding the two goals against the Germans last time.

Nothing has come easily to the Czechs so far. After the German defeat, they were within a few minutes of elimination before Vladimir Smicer equalised against Russia to level the score at 3-3 after they had let go of a 2- 0 lead. It continued even yesterday when they had to be evacuated from their hotel for two hours because of a chemical leak. Through it all, with little expectation intruding upon them - Smicer had even booked his wedding for last Friday and returned to Prague to keep the date - they have remained as relaxed as the similarly unburdened champions Denmark were four years ago.

The memory of that, and the mantle of favourites, will rest uneasily with the beaten finalists from last time. They should have enough in the tank to overcome the Czechs, but will need more assertive displays from players such as Christian Ziege and Thomas Hassler. The difference between the teams could be the elegant libero Matthias Sammer.

We can expect to see the Czechs' now familiar strategy of defending in depth and hoping to poach a goal on the break. But the game will need an early goal, like Alan Shearer's on Wednesday, if it is to begin to equal the last that was played in the stadium.

Wembley is a 76,000 sell-out according to the official sources but we have heard that before during this tournament. The tickets may have been sold in advance packages but there could be a large number of no-shows.

It is a ticketing policy that Uefa must re-examine, along with the question of larger squads to reflect the more extensive tournament. A new disciplinary system, with a suspension resulting from two yellow cards that does not differentiate between technical and brutal offences, is also needed.

Uefa's ruling on the extra players seems belated acknowledgement of their oversights. The hope now is that we get a better final than they deserve.

Germany's giant, page 25

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Media Sales - OTE up to £30,000

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Developer

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique & exciting opp...

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border