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Sports

Archrivals Germany and England Gear Up for Friendly

Another chapter in one of the oldest rivalries in international soccer will be written this week as England and Germany lock horns in an international friendly in Berlin on Wednesday.

game in London, 2007

The "friendlies" between rivals Germany and England don't always remain friendly

The two nations, whose histories are inextricably linked by the 1966 World Cup final, won by England on home soil, have met 26 times in all, including the period when Germany played as West Germany.

Of those, England have won 11, the Germans have won 10 and there have been five draws.

Despite their 1966 triumph - which remains their only major tournament win - England have suffered plenty of heartbreak at the hands of the Germans, going down to them on penalties in both the semi-finals of the World Cup in 1990 and in the 1996 European Championships.

A famous 5-1 win by England in a World Cup qualifier in Munich in 2001 wiped away many of the bad memories, although the Germans did win their last encounter, another friendly in 2007.

This time, both sides are in something of a transition period. England, under Fabio Capello, have won four out of four World Cup qualifiers, while Germany, led by Joachim Loew, are top of their qualifying group.

Time to experiment

The Germany and England teams

The Germany and England teams

Since taking over as England manager at the start of the year, Capello has instilled some confidence into his side and the results and performances have been encouraging. With a number of injuries to high-profile players, the Italian has promised to use the match to experiment with a number of players.

Striker Wayne Rooney and defender Rio Ferdinand, both of whom missed Manchester United's victory over Stoke City at the weekend, had already been ruled out, while both Joe Cole and Ashley Cole were not considered because of hamstring trouble.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has been asked to report to the squad despite his club saying he would be out for seven to 10 days because of a torn muscle. Gerrard is unlikely to travel to Berlin, but captain John Terry, who has been struggling with a foot injury, is expected to be fit to lead the side.

With Wes Brown, Emile Heskey and Joe Hart also out, Capello will use the game to see some lesser-known players, and Michael Mancienne, a defender on loan at Wolves from Chelsea, could make an appearance.

"I think the confidence of the players is different now," Capello said. "I remember the first time we played against Switzerland and we played without confidence.

"But now we have played and won four qualifiers for the World Cup, and I can see the confidence in the players. This is the most important thing."

Injuries on German side

The controversial third goal in the Germany-England game of 1966

The controversial third goal in the Germany-England game of 1966

Germany will be without Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack, who has only just returned from injury, and also Torsten Frings, who had criticized manager Loew after he was dropped from the squad to play Wales and Russia in World Cup qualifying matches.

Defenders Philipp Lahm, Marcell Jansen, Christian Pander and Clemens Fritz are all unavailable through injury, so Loew is likely to follow Capello's example by experimenting with some relatively unknown players at international level.

"We want to use the last game of the year to try a few things out and to look at some new players," Loew said. "The three new members of the squad have earned their place through their achievements."

Police on alert

German police say they expect around 8,000 England fans to come to Berlin for the friendly, most of whom have tickets for the match at Berlin's Olympic Stadium. Still, police say around 250 known troublemakers are expected to come to Germany without tickets, and they are prepared for possible trouble.

Germany's Torsten Frings and coach Joachim Loew

Germany's Torsten Frings, left, and coach Joachim Loew

Some 4,500 police officers are to be in the German capital on Wednesday night to deal with any disturbances.

"We have prepared our deployments of officers as carefully as possible for this game, because disturbances cannot be excluded," said a Berlin police spokesman.

German police also expect some trouble from home-grown hooligans and say they have issued warnings to about 80 individuals with a history of hooliganism.

British and German police forces have exchanged information in recent months and known hooligans who come to Germany will be detained at the point of entry. German officials are posting English-speaking police at railway stations and two Berlin airports to meet arriving England fans.