Lahm ready to pounce on English lions

ERASMIA - Germany may have been stroking cute little lion cubs on Friday morning but when they take on England, nicknamed "Three Lions", on Sunday, they will be far less gentle, captain Philipp Lahm warned.

Germany are going into their World Cup second round clash on Sunday in Bloemfontein with their youngest World Cup team in 76 years but Lahm said there was no fear taking on a far more experienced opponent.

"We saw lions this morning, we did not touch the big ones and we stroked their cubs but on Sunday we will be going into the one-on-one's with far more aggression," Lahm said after a visit to a lion park.

"It will be a tough game, a fight for every centimetre, where a single mistake can be decisive. But we are mentally in top condition, everyone is looking forward to this and there is a great, great desire," said the defender.

Lahm played down the importance of past World Cup and European Championship encounters between the two sides, including in the 1990s, saying most of the players in the Germany squad were either not born or were too young to experience them at the time.

"The games of the past do not play a great role. But the matches are always a great occasion (back home). Back home the whole day will be determined by this game. You will not drive to the lake because you will be watching the game," he said.

BURNING AMBITION

Coach Joachim Low, who is still hoping his injured playmaker Bastian Schweinsteiger will be fit in time for the match, said while the English side were bursting with talent and experience, his team was in no way just a "nice team".

"This is youthful exuberance against experience. England have an outstanding fighting spirit and this burning ambition," said Low. "This axis of John Terry, (Frank) Lampard, (Steven) Gerrard and Wayne Rooney is just amazing."

"But we are not just a nice team. You can see in our training what kind of competition there is among the players."

"There is no fear. Sure there is tension, maybe some nervousness but it is a positive nervousness."

Low said he knew enough about their opponents to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses, while his team would need to improve on their finishing.

"Against Ghana we were not good in the final third of the pitch. We have to finish off our moves better against England," he said.

"If we do not do that then Gerrard and Lampard will have lots of space in midfield and then they will be all but unstoppable."

"But I am happy to report that none of my players was eaten by lions today," he said.

Follow FFT.com on Twitter Join FFT.com on Facebook