Patriotism grips nation on hottest day

LONDON - Patriotic fervour gripped England and Germany on Sunday as millions of football fans prepared to watch their teams take on their age-old rivals in the second round of the World Cup.

Huge TV audiences were expected in both nations for the game and with forecasters predicting the hottest day of the year so far, open air screenings were predicted to prove popular.

"We have seen already very good TV figures for the previous matches both of Germany and of England," said FIFA spokesman Pekka Odriozola.

"Certainly the expectations are that for a match like this one the figures will also be very, very good."

In England, thousands of music lovers will watch the match on a big screen at the huge open-air Glastonbury Festival, in southwest England, where organisers have urged fans to don hats and slap on sunscreen.

Princes William and Harry have passed on messages of support to England's team, saying the country will be "hugely proud" as long as the players gave their all.

There was also a wave of patriotism sweeping Germany on a brilliant summer day with a myriad of black, red and gold flags hanging from rooftops, car antennas and windows.

In Berlin, 300,000 are expected at a public viewing venue.

TIME OUT

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was hoping to take time out from the G20 summit in Toronto to watch part of the match with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

However, such a spirit of cooperation was lost on a jingoistic English tabloid press eager to dig up old rivalries, while some could not resist alluding to the Second World War.

"All out roar!" proclaimed the News of the World with a picture of England's top three players snarling like lions, while the Sunday Mirror taunted "We'll make Roo sorry!".

The Daily Star pictured England striker Wayne Rooney in a tin hat with the headline: "We will fight jeering jerries on the pitches."

German newspapers also took up the fight.

"Jubeln, chillen, England grillen," (Celeberate, chill out and grill England) wrote Bild am Sonntag newspaper. "It's the first genuine day of summer. Hello summer! Good-bye England."

Pouring salt in the wounds of England's notoriously poor performance when World Cup matches go to penalty shoot-outs, Bild added: "All we have to do is reach penalties."

Bild noted that Germany have won all four of its World Cup matches that went to penalties while England had lost its three.

DON'T MENTION THE WAR

However, German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said it was a matter of regret that certain newspapers had felt the need to refer back to past conflicts when talking about soccer.

"I don't know who needs it, we definitely don't," he told the BBC. "This is a thing of the past, doesn't help in the present and future, and we should just ignore it."

Sunday's clash will mark the third time in 20 years that England and Germany have met in the knockout stage of a major football tournament and fans will be hoping for a turnaround in England's fortunes.

At both the World Cup in 1990 and the European championships in 1996, England lost out to Germany on penalties in the semi-finals.

Despite its claim to be the birthplace of the game, England have only won the World Cup once, on home soil in 1966, and the failure of its top players to live up to their billing at international level has been a source of much soul-searching.

When it comes to the crunch, England fans are hoping experience will count over historical statistics. While England is fielding one of the most experienced sides in the World Cup, Germany is putting out its youngest squad in 76 years.

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