England, who finished second in Group C behind the United States, are a slight favourites to defeat an inexperienced German side in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
Gerrard believes that this is the type of clash that could make or break a footballer's career and the England captain is looking forward to the match against their arch-rivals.
"This is a game where you have to stand up and be counted," said the England skipper.
"When you are growing up, it is the stage you want to be playing at."
"There could be a big moment in the game that can define any player's career."
"But you look forward to it. It is a fantastic game to play in. Everyone is excited."
Fabio Capello is trying to stay distant from the hype that surrounds any meeting between these two traditional heavyweights.
He is more concerned about the make-up of his side, although even he admits there is not much guesswork required on this occasion.
"I have one doubt, but everyone knows the other 10 players," he said.
Coping with the weight of history is more of an issue for England's players than their Italian manager, though only three of teh anticipated starters - Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and James Milner - have not tasted victory over the Germans.
Thoughts of 1966, 1970, 1990 and 1996 hang heavy over the tie of the round, as does the prospect of those penalty kicks at which Germany have proved so proficient in the past.
"This is a very important game," said Capello.
"The players like to beat all the big teams and Germany are one of them."
"I respect Germany and I know the value of their players. But I also know the value of mine and I know they respect us."