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World Cup 2010: Beckenbauer sorry for England criticism

25 June 10 16:58 GMT

Franz Beckenbauer has apologised for his negative comments about the England team ahead of their World Cup second-round match against Germany.

He had accused England of going "back to the old days of kick and rush" and later suggested they were "burnt out."

But the Germany legend told BBC Sport: "I apologise, because I like England and I like English football.

"Maybe it was a reaction because I was disappointed [with England's performances] and maybe in a bad mood."

Beckenbauer, Germany's World Cup winning captain in 1974, added: "Before the World Cup I was convinced England would play a major role in the tournament and maybe win the title.

"They have a great team and a great coach - Fabio Capello is one of the most experienced coaches - and after the first two games I was so disappointed.

"In other words, I apologise and I look forward to the game on Sunday. I think it's going to be a very interesting game."

Beckenbauer also joked that he hoped Germany beat England on penalties, just as they did in the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup - when he was their coach - and the 1996 European Championships.

He said: "For the fans, I hope for excitement - a draw, overtime, and then penalty kicks. And then, the Germans win. Sorry!"

England's failure to win their group means they take on Germany, who won Group D, rather than Ghana, with the victors potentially facing Argentina in the quarter-finals.

After England's 1-0 win against Slovenia on Wednesday, Beckenbauer was quoted as saying: "Stupidly, the English have slipped up a little by finishing second in their group.

"The English look a little tired... they are burnt out. We respect them but we certainly don't fear them."

Beckenbauer attacked England's style of play earlier in the tournament, but admitted they looked better in their final group match.

"England's first two appearances at the World Cup were paltry, but they improved against Slovenia," he told German newspaper Bild.

"What makes them dangerous is that their key players Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and John Terry sense that this could be the last chance in their career to win a World Cup. And after all, England have been waiting since 1966 for a title.

"After they failed to qualify for Euro 2008, England hit rock bottom. Fabio Capello appears to have brought discipline to the troops, [he] has brought in a new structure."

Beckenbauer added: "A game like this [England v Germany] should be a semi-final, not a last-16 game."

However, he believes the German players are fresher than England's, a situation he put down to the rigours of Premier League football.

"The Premier League players have got to play far more games than their Bundesliga colleagues, including two national cup competitions," added Beckenbauer, who scored one of West Germany's goals in a 3-2 quarter-final win against England in Mexico in 1970.

"Therefore, when it comes to a World Cup or a European Championships, they are burnt out. Our players, on the other hand, seem to be in a physically better condition."

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