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Mertesacker goads England players about group stage exit

ESPN staff
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Per Mertesacker does not believe Germany are primed to win the World Cup this summer © Getty Images
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Germany defender Per Mertesacker jokingly said England 'still hark back to their past' and admitted he had already wound up some of Roy Hodgson's squad ahead of the World Cup.

The Arsenal defender told Die Zeit how he had stoked the fires of the great rivalry ahead of this summer's tournament in Brazil.

Mertesacker says Joachim Lowe's side are not "able to play the World Cup the way we want to play it, which is to say successfully" and warned his German team-mates are not properly prepared for glory in Brazil.

However, when it was suggested he was taking a pessimistic view, Mertesacker could not help but take a sly dig at his English compatriots.

"The English are just as sceptical and still hark back to their past - 'We can't do penalties' or 'We always lose against Germany.' Stuff like that," Mertesacker said.

"We told the English players they are going to be eliminated by Italy and Uruguay [at the group stage]," Mertesacker, whose Arsenal team-mates include England's Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, said. "But nobody, no matter from which country, has enough confidence to say: We'll knock you all out in Brazil."

Mertesacker was part of the Germany squad that lost out to both Italy and Spain in the semi-finals of the 2006 and 2010 campaigns respectively, as well as in the squads for the Euro 2008 final and Euro 2012 semi-finals.

He said the country's players are determined to finally end the country's long wait for success and that, not a fear of failure, was their driving force.

"Many of us are in the prime of their careers," Mertesacker, who has won 96 caps, said. "After all those second- and third-place finishes, the motivation is higher than the fear of failure.

"They [the nation] think we will go out to Spain or Italy, I know, but I don't share that feeling."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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