On a day that saw Luis Suárez given a heavy ban from soccer as well as Sulley Muntari and Kevin Prince-Boateng being sent home in disgrace by Ghana, there was a danger that the off-pitch drama would overshadow the remaining fixtures in Group G.
The equation was simple, a draw between the US and Germany would see both sides comfortably qualify for the knockout rounds. However when the prospect of the two playing for the draw was broached to US coach Jürgen Klinsmann, he bristled at the suggestion. “The US is known to give all they have in every single game, otherwise Mexico wouldn’t be here,” he said.
Germany, well West Germany at least, played in one of the most infamous matches in World Cup history against Austria in 1982, the Schande von Gijón. Joachim Löw was not interested in repeating that performance (or more accurately speaking non-performance) and set his side out to attack. As an odd quirk of fate this result and the one in 1982 shared the same score line, a 1-0 victory to Germany.
On a rain sodden day at Recife, Klinsmann and Löw were adversaries as an impressive Germany triumphed but the US, with a little help from Portugal, managed to join them in the knockout stages of the World Cup.
1. Slick Germans
Under Löw the Germans have become one of the more pleasing teams to watch. Such is the talent and soccer intelligence in the side the players were able to switch formations and change systems pretty easily. Mesut Özil was allowed to float in the attacking areas as Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm kept things ticking along.
In the first 10-minutes the Germans came out of the blocks quickly and nearly took the lead in the opening minutes as a difficult chance fell to Thomas Müller. Their initial superiority was a warning sign of things to come.
Their ability to dictate the pace of the game was noticeable too, slowing down the tempo of the match before shifting gears to play at a more explosive pace. Sterile possession this was not as they sought to work opportunities and create two on one or three on two situations.
Off the ball they were equally as impressive knowing when exactly to drop and when to press. When the Germans did press they looked to overload the area where the ball was and pressurize the opponent into giving possession away.