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
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific