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Football: England must be Gladiators and put them to the sword HOW THEY LINE UP; ENGLAND v GERMANY AT WEMBLEY, TODAY, 3P SAYS TONY ADAMS.

THE last time Tony Adams led his country into a battle of such importance, he left the stirring words of Shakespeare echoing around the changing rooms.

Now the England captain has decided Henry V and Agincourt have done their bit. A change of character is needed if the Germans are to be put to the sword today.

Instead of the Bard, the passion and aggression of the Roman Gladiator will be Adams's rallying cry before match he hopes will turn Wembley into a Colosseum.

It is a character the old war-horse Adams will relish playing as he leads England once more unto the breach.

"It will be loud, very loud, and it will be like the gladiators felt," he explained.

Adams has always relied on combat in an outstanding career with England and Arsenal. Nowhere will the spirit of a fighter be needed more.

"You have two resilient, competitive nations who want to win football games, two physical countries," he said.

"The Germans are very powerful and strong, and their mentality is such that they never give in.

"In the past it has been very physically demanding against them. They are strong. They run you in the ground. They wear you down mentally."

This is clearly a battle Adams savours as he bids to build on England's Euro 2000 success against Germany, even though that match, won by Alan Shearer's headed goal. merely proved that both sides were strugglers.

Now the slate is wiped clean as the two countries pursue qualification for the 2002 Word Cup finals. "I'm very focused, and excited, and thrilled to be England captain," said Adams.

"My objective will be to get the three points, and to look around the dressing room and make sure everyone is focused and calm.

"I let other people judge whether I'm good at it or not. But I feel that it's quite natural for me to be leader. To be captain.

"For me, it's no burden or obstacle. The lads like it as well. They feel comfortable with me leading."

It will certainly to be a massive advantage to England to have a captain willing to shoulder his responsibilities rather than be a mere figurehead.

Adams is not contemplating defeat. He wants to get the fans on England's side, to lift the nation. He knows how to do it.

"The buck stops with us," he said.

"I do believe it all starts with the team. If we go out there confident, positive and start moving the ball well, the country gets behind us.

"If we're not doing the business, obviously they've got nothing to cheer.

"Sometimes things don't go your way. But I do believe that what goes around, comes around. If you keep putting in the effort, you're going to have your day."

Pride has been restored after Euro 2000, to a degree, because of the impressive 1-1 draw against France in Paris.

"The performance we put in is a stepping stone which we can improve upon," said Adams. "If we we're talking about respect, yes, I do feel that we've maybe made a few people look at us a different way.

"We were trying to tell the country that, yes, we do have some talented players.

"Now we need to move on from that and get three points. Our objective is 2002."

The nation expects another win over Germany but Adams is experienced enough to guard against too much optimism, particularly with the opposition having taken huge strides after their own lamentable summer showing.

"Expectations are dangerous," he warned. "We respect the Germans. They are a very good nation.

"They've got their strong points and weak points, and so have we. I would like to stick to reality. With the confidence of the last game, we can go on from there."

Adams, his confidence boosted with outstanding displays against Lazio and Manchester United, knows that the nation is so intent on this afternoon that the equally- important trip to Finland has been largely forgotten. As he said: "There's no point beating the Germans and then losing to Finland on Wednesday,"

It is the second time Adams has captained his country against the Germans and he is hoping for a very different outcome from Euro '96.

That occasion ended in defeat in a penalty shoot-out but Adams said: "I am proud every time I lead out my country. I was proud in 1996, even though we lost the game.

"I thought the performance was excellent, and we played them off the park for about 75 minutes.

"Unfortunately, we didn't get the result on that day.

"Hopefully, today we'll put in a performance we can be proud of."

Adams does not only want England to qualify for the World Cup finals in 2002.

He would like to captain the team in Japan and Korea, a perfect way to end his career. But back to the present.

"My first experience of Wembley was on a tour, as a kid with my school," he recalls. "It was an awesome place.

"I remember it well. It just looked enormous. It doesn't look that enormous today. I may have grown."

At Wembley this afternoon, all England will be hoping Adams has grown into a gladiator.


David Beckham v Christian Ziege

Ziege has a cultured left foot and a proven ability in dead-ball situations. Beckham will have to track back to cut out his distribution. Beckham is the best crosser of a football in the world, a free-kick specialist and has an unerring eye for a pass.

Beckham 9 Ziege 7

Michael Owen v Jens Nowotny

Germany will struggle with Owen's pace if he isolates any of their defenders. The striker can create goals out of nothing but the Germans stand a greater chance of starving him if they can force him on to his weaker left foot. Owen should lose out in the air to Nowotny. The centre-back is 6ft 5in and should prove a potent attacking force at set-pieces.

Owen 8 Nowotny 6

Tony Adams v Oliver Bierhoff

Bierhoff is a prolific striker who is particularly strong in the air. He has cracked 30 goals in 50 games for Germany. But he could struggle if the supply of crosses is cut out by Adams and co. Adams compensates for lack of pace with world-class well-timed tackles.

Adams 8 Bierhoff 7


England 1 (Shearer) Germany 0 Euro 2000 group game (Charleroi), June 17, 2000

England 1 (Shearer) Germany 1 (Kuntz) Euro 96 semi-final (Wembley), June 26, 1996 (Germany won 6-5 on pens)

England 1 (Platt) Germany 2 (Effenberg, Klinsmann) Friendly (Detroit), June 19, 1993

England 0 Germany 1 (Riedle) Friendly (Wembley), September 11, 1991

Germany 1 (Brehme) England 1 (Lineker) World Cup semi-final (Turin), July 4, 1990 (Germany won 4-3 on pens)

2000: Finland (a) October 11 2001: Finland (h) March 24; Albania (a) March 28; Greece (a) June 6; Germany (a) September 1; Albania (h) September 5; Greece (h) October 6



England 11-10

Germany 11-5

Draw 11-5P
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Harris, Harry
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 7, 2000
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