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World Cup 2014 views from Tokyo: Germany and England

by Mark Buckton

Special To The Japan Times

Felix Lill
Journalist, 28
(German)

Who is Germany’s man to watch?

I think that is a midfielder from Real Madrid, Sami Khedira, because he’s quite an atypical player for Germany. He’s sort of more forceful, more physical and, in that way, he’s one of the important players of the team, because he provides for a balance in the team and in the midfield.

How far do you expect Germany and Japan to get?

Well, about Japan, I think they have quite a strong team and if they make it to the second round it’ll get tough, but if they win against whatever team it will be in the second round, I think they can go all the way.

The same applies to Germany, which is quite a similar team to Japan in terms of their playing style — lots of midfielders and no real striker. Anything but the World Cup will be a disappointment — that’s how people see it in Germany. I’m not sure if they will actually manage to win because they might lack a leading personality on the team — that really depends on the day-to-day form of the team, but they might go all the way and win the cup.

Which game are you most looking forward to?

Well, for now there’s only three games in the group, which is against Ghana, the USA and Portugal. Out of those, I think Portugal will be the most fun one because there’s Cristiano Ronaldo playing for Portugal — he basically kicked out Bayern Munich, where lots of Germany team players play, (from the Champions’ League by scoring for Real Madrid) so there’s a bit of revenge there. I think also that will be the most difficult game in the group stage, and anyway, after that, things will get more interesting.

Who do you expect to win, and which dark horses could upset their plans?

Well, since Germany’s one of the favorites, I think, along with Brazil, Argentina and Spain, any of those can be one of the dark horses, I think, and as you’ve seen in previous tournaments, as long as Germany does not concede a shock goal in the first half, they should do fine, because they tend to dominate the game. But whenever they’re suddenly behind, well, it’ll be hard for them to recover.


James Williams
Pub and brewery owner
(English)

Who is England’s man to watch?

I think possibly (Liverpool captain) Steven Gerrard. He’s got a lot of experience now and he could make it or break it for England.

How far do you expect England and Japan to get?

I think England will probably get through the group stages but I’m not sure they’ll get through the next round. Probably Japan as well: I think they’ll do OK in the group stage but I don’t really see them getting as far as the quarter finals because they don’t have the experience in the knock-out stages.

Which game are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to the first England game, England vs. Italy, and also, on the same day, Japan vs. Ivory Coast, because they’re just at the most convenient times. They’re still early morning, so 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., but possibly OK to enjoy a drink with.

Who do you expect to win, and which dark horses could upset their plans?

I’d go for Brazil — with the home advantage, surely they can pull it off. For an upset, well, let’s say England, to be slightly optimistic for once.

Download a FIFA World Cup group-stage wall chart in PDF form, packed with opinions culled from these interviews and facts about the tournament.