Geo-Historical Tidbit: Er, I would, but I don't want to mention the war.
Player to Watch: Wayne Rooney. OK, OK, it’s the painfully obvious, soccer-idiot choice. But really, as much as I’d love to talk about Phillip Lahm’s dangerous elfin runs from right back, or Mesmet Ozil’s creativity in central attack, Rooney is the obvious X factor practically every time he steps on to the pitch. I’ve accused the English trio of Roo, Lampsie, and Stevie G. of resembling a zoological horror film in their World Cup appearances so far, but the more I think about it, it’s Rooney who’s been the most disappointing. World Cup fans can be forgiven for thinking him a useless “overheated troll,” as Kirk says, but the guy did finish second in the Premiership in scoring, and was considered by even some non-English people as perhaps the best player in the world. If England is to do anything, absolutely anything, in this tournament, he needs to be involved.
Whom to Support: England, of course! They’re dull, they’re dour, and sometimes they’re putrid, but they're not the Germans! Plus, they haven't won since '66, they don't have Evil Aryan Rutger Hauer-ish figures on their team, and, uh, they're not the Germans!
What to Expect: A hard-fought but convincing German victory. England just doesn't beat the top teams in knockout rounds of the World Cup. They get as far as their seed will take them, and no further. In '06, they beat Ecuador and lost to Portugal (on penalties, but still). In '02, they beat Denmark and then lost to Brazil. And so on. Even when they made the semis in 1990, the last time an England team has done anything of real significance in a World Cup, they got there by beating Belgium and Cameroon, before losing to West Germany. Their last elimination-stage victory over a major soccer power in a World Cup came in, er, 1966. Really. I don't see it happening today, with this team. Something more like Germany 2, England 0.