Wednesday ominous for England, Germany

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:52 PM ET

JOHANNESBURG - From Leipzig to Liverpool, from Manchester to Munich, Wicked Wednesday might be one of the most devastating days in World Cup history.

A day in which so-called soccer powers England and Germany might both be booted out of the World Cup in a matter of hours.

You have to go all the way back to 1950 to find a World Cup in which at least one of these teams did not advance past the first round.

Yet the stage is set for that very thing to happen at South Africa 2010.

Is it probability? Likely not. Both teams, on paper, appear to have superior rosters over their respective opponents Wednesday.

Then again, as noted hockey philosopher Pat Quinn once opined: "You know what paper is good for ... You wipe things with it ... You wrap things in it ..."

We get the message, Pat. Loud and clear.

And, when you consider alleged powerhouses Germany, England, France, Italy and Spain have combined for one victory in their first nine outings, the point becomes that much more defined.

Wicked Wednesday will play out this way.

At 10 a.m. EST at picturesque Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, England will face upstart Slovenia with, as the British announcers like to say, "all to play for."

Slovenia will be without striker Nejc Pecnik, who will miss the remainder of the tournament after snapping his ankle in Friday's 2-2 draw with the U.S. at Ellis Park Stadium.

Later that day, at 2:30 p,m. EST to be precise, the Germans will take on a Ghana side that should have the backing of the pro-African Soccer City throng.

There are a number of mathematical possibilities for the English and Germans, concerning the weeding out of who might advance to the Group of 16 when the dust settles.

But this much is certain: Both England and Germany must win there respective games or risk being on thin ice.

If they don't, well, for the first time in 60 years, a World Cup might not have one of England or Germany in a second round.

WHERE'S THE LOO?

With the unforgiving British press already predicting that England's World Cup aspirations have gone down the toilet, now comes word that the chap who wandered into their dressing room after the 0-0 draw against Algeria in Cape Town on Saturday was simply looking for a place to go to the bathroom.

According to the British publication The Mirror, the man in question was mortgage advisor Pavlos Joseph, who has been banned by FIFA from future World Cup games thanks to his bloated bladder.

"The crazy thing is, I only went looking for the toilet," Joseph told the English newspaper.

Thanks to directions from a stadium security guard, he found it.

He also found the entire English team too -- including one of their starters -- standing in the buff.

Said Joseph: "I saw Joe Cole walk naked out of the shower a few feet away from me. He glanced at me and then did a massive double take."

That's when the intruder was spotted by David Beckham, who asked who he was.

"At first I didn't know what to say. I glanced around at everyone again and then looked back at him. I said, 'I'm Pavlos and I actually need the toilet.'"

When asked about the incident, Beckham said the unwanted visitor said very little. Joseph, however, tells a different story.

"I looked David straight in the eye and said, 'David, we've spent a lot of money getting here. This is a disgrace. What are you going to do about it?'"

"I told them, 'That was woeful and not good enough'. The room was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. The players' chins were on their chests -- they looked pretty ashamed."

It's amazing what can happen when nature calls, isn't it?

EXTRA TIME

Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina believes Spain still can win the World Cup despite suffering a 1-0 upset to Switzerland in their opener. "We've never done particularly well in the World Cup as a nation, but I don't think there's extra pressure on us because of that," Reina told Liverpool's official website, "We want to win the World Cup and we will try to do that." Spain plays its second game of the tournament Monday against Honduras.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca


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