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Tight security in Britain ahead of Cup clash with Germany

City centres across England are turning into police fortresses in anticipation of the World Cup clash against Germany today which the weatherman predicts will be the island nation's hottest day.

sports Updated: Jun 27, 2010 12:08 IST

City centres across England are turning into police fortresses in anticipation of the World Cup clash against Germany on Sunday which the weatherman predicts will be the island nation's hottest day.

But the heat is already on as the media goes in for a no-holds-barred showdown, raising people's tensions and the match's stakes equally sky high.

England coach Fabio Capello has urged his players to shut out the historic significance of collisions between England and Germany, but coping with the weight of history is more of an issue for the English people than the Italian manager.

Prime Minister David Cameron, currently attending the G-8 and G-20 meet in Toronto, is not unaware of the stakes, both historical and sporting. He sent a message saying he hoped to watch part of the second half of the match with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The British royalty sent out a message to the players, sober in tone but not missing out on national pride. Prince Harry said: "As long as our guys do their best, the country will be hugely proud of them."

But the English media binned sobriety for the occasion. Many newspapers flayed Germany for "playing mental games" on the eve of the match. The Telegraph's headline read: "England v Germany: Joachim Low cranks up pressure ahead of World Cup clash". It was referring to the Germany head coach who "tried to crank up the psychological pressure on England by sending Andreas Köpke, the goalkeeper who saved Gareth Southgate's penalty in Euro 96, to deliver their pre-match press conference in his stead".

The Daily Mail's bashing of Joachim Low turned personal: "Meanwhile Herr Low has been stung by mischievous claims sweeping the internet that he wears a wig. The coach, who is 50, has a luxurious black mane that does not appear to move, however excited he gets." It also ran a photo of the late Winston Churchill, the war-time British Prime Minister, recalling his "we shall never surrender" speech saying "the England team are more likely to take inspiration from…Churchill".

The German media was even bolder. Bild, the country's biggest tabloid, declared in a front-page blurb: "Bild has already kicked the English out; you won't find a single English word in this newspaper!" Inside is another: "Now our best lads take on the English rowdies." And there is a photograph of Miroslav Klose next to John Terry with the headline: "The angler versus the characterless".

Meanwhile, security cordons have been thrown around city centres in Leicester, Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool and others where thousands of people are expected to watch the match on giant screens. A beer-ban is in force at the city centres.

In view of Sunday likely to be a hot day, supermarkets and small retailers have stocked up millions of beer cans and water bottles. Thousands of ready-to-eat meals are on offer at discount prices.

Pubs and restaurants are already booked where reservations can be made. Pub owners are making special arrangements for the afternoon, including carvery and salad buffets and discounts on spirits and food.

Unlike the last match against Slovenia last week when the people were a bit jittery, the mood this time is sombre and every reaction about the Sunday match is peppered with a reference to history - not just the bleak English record with penalties, but the war as well.

Shahid Akhtar, a student at De Montfort University in Leicester, who is hoping to be crowned Mr England, told Leicester Mercury: "There is nothing better than beating the Germans. The history is there. We have the team and the talent."

German-born Christoph Wagner, a PhD student at the same university, is researching on Anglo-German relations in sport between 1954 and 1996. His wager: "Every historical run has to come to an end at some point, and I think this weekend will be it. England will finally beat the Germans in a penalty shoot-out."

First Published: Jun 27, 2010 12:06 IST