ERASMIA, June 26 – Germany coach Joachim Loew insisted Friday his side will show England respect, but have nothing to fear from them when they meet in the World Cup's last 16.
The European giants renew one of the fiercest rivalries in football in Bloemfontein on Sunday with a quarter-final against either Argentina or Mexico at stake, but neither side have produced a convincing World Cup campaign so far.
"Both teams go into the game with a certain amount of respect," said Loew.
"This will also be the case in England, because they know that we are quite capable of beating them.
"There will be no fear, not from us and not from the English."
England’s camp was shaken when former captain John Terry openly questioned coach Fabio Capello’s judgement after their two poor opening draws, but Loew says heated discussions behind closed doors can be a positive thing.
"I don’t find it a bad thing when there are discussions between the trainer and his senior players," said Loew, who had to deal with a mutiny in 2008 when Michael Ballack publicly accused him of not respecting senior German players.
"Capello is experienced so he knows what needs to be done to improve.
"And Terry is also always looking for success.
"They have a lot of experience in international competitions, so they will be hungry."
Loew says he sees defensive rock Terry and midfielders Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard as the backbone of the England side.
"The Terry-Gerrard-Lampard axis is of the highest class," said Loew.
"Capello has managed to forge some discipline in this team.
"Even before the tournament, England were one of the top favourites for me to win the title."
While captain Philipp Lahm has warned the side to improve their defence, Loew has said Germany must tighten up their passing if they are to have any chance of making the quarter-finals and winning a fourth World Cup title.
"We started well against Ghana, but were not consistent enough," he said after Germany earned a nervy 1-0 win over the Africans to make the last 16.
"Our passes were not precise enough and, against England, we have to finish better otherwise we risk losing the ball and allowing them to counter-attack."
Loew played down the historic rivalry between the two nations.
Any Germany-England clash always brings out the worst in the British tabloids and headlines such as ‘Herr we go again’ and ‘Job Done… Now For The Hun’ appeared in British papers after results threw the two teams together in the knockout phase.
References to past conflicts are never far away when the sides meet — and neither is talk of the 1966 World Cup final, when Sir Geoff Hurst scored his famous hat-trick to seal a 4-2 win over West Germany at Wembley.
But Loew insists his youthful side, which has an average age of less than 25 years, are unaffected by any talk of history between the two countries.
"We live in 2010 and in a united Europe, therefore, such comparisons are completely inappropriate," said the 50-year-old.
"The story (of the 1966 World Cup final) is significant, but many of our players weren’t even born when the legendary games took place between the two sides.
"I remember quite clearly the matches in ’66 and ’70."