The USA and Germany face off today at Noon ET/9am PT in the final game for each side in Group G. A win by either team wins the group, but both teams only need to walk out of the Arena Pernambuco in Recife with a single point to ensure advancement into the next round.
The teams have reached this point after opening wins followed by shocking draws in their respective second games – Germany coming back against Ghana, while the U.S. gave up a game-tying goal with just 30 seconds left against Portugal.
For Germany, the historic numbers are on their side. They have advanced out of group play in every World Cup since 1954, have won at least two games in group play in every World Cup since 1990, they haven’t lost their third game of group play since 1986, and have won the third game in five consecutive World Cups.
The Germans are also 2-1 all-time against the Americans, including a 1-0 victory in the 2002 World Cup.
US Head Coach Klinsmann said:
“I think one of the strengths of the German side has been consistency. Consistency and performing at the highest level or on the biggest stage, which is every two years in a European Championship or a World Cup, and (the ability ) to find ways to make it to the end of the tournaments. The expectations in Germany are very simple; they’ve always got to win it. Otherwise, they are disappointed. That’s just how it is. Third place or second place doesn’t mean much to the fans and the people there. Obviously their spirit is always going into the last second of the game, to turn things around, fighting until the last moment.”
It’s all part of what makes Germany, well, Germany. There are no surprises with this team and if you want to beat them you will have to get the job done – they are not beating themselves.
The Americans will once again be without Jozy Altidore, who remains out with a hamstring injury, but that is not as disconcerting as it was going into the Portugal game. In Altidore’s absence, the U.S. has picked up goals from captain Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and John Brooks as the team concept remains strong on the pitch.
Despite the disappointing end to the Portugal game, the U.S. was the better team for all but a couple of minutes against Portugal, and that confidence should help them against Germany.
“I think we had one foot in the door, so there’s a small bit of disappointment,” goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “Realistically, we have given ourselves every chance to advance. We are optimistic; we are pretty much where we wanted to be when we started this whole process. We wanted to be going into this last game feeling like we have a chance, and we do.”
A subplot to watch in the game will be how the German-American players on the U.S. roster, most notably Jermaine Jones and Fabian Johnson, fare against a team of players that they are familiar with.
And while he may say this is just another game on the way to the knockout stage, there’s little doubt that Klinsmann has had this game circled on his personal calendar ever since the draw back in December.
“It’s very special, it’s something that doesn’t happen every year and probably not anymore in the lifetime, so you try to enjoy this moment,” he said. “We are very ambitious. We did so much work, and we were almost there already to be qualified for the knockout stage, we have to do it now with this game and there is no doubt that it’s a special moment because it’s the team that you start building, the group of people that you got around and they are all in place still, so I will give them big hugs before the game and then leave to the side. We’re gonna get the job done and we’re gonna give a farewell hug again after the game.”
The U.S. certainly has what it takes to possibly win against Germany, and certainly enough to come away with a tie and the much-needed point. While both teams will want to win, Germany is in a safer position that the U.S. thanks to their better goal differential.
“Who would have thought that after the two games, we were right there with four points, we need one more point and we are through so we will take it that way very positively,” Klinsmann said. “We are going to play this game to win it. We are not made for going into a game to end with a tie, that’s just not in our DNA and it’s not even in the DNA of the German side so they are both teams that want to get the results, both teams want to win the group. You’ll see that yourselves but we are definitely going in there with the approach that we want to push it and we want to go for gold and we want to get three points and this is really what we are driving for.”
The U.S. has to be careful, though. If they push too hard for the win, they could make that one crucial mistake that hands Germany a goal and puts their dreams advancing in jeopardy.
If the U.S. can get through the first 15 to 20 minutes of the game in good shape, things should settle down and the result will be that will make fans of both teams happy.
Predicted score: Germany 1, USA 1
Predicted Germany starting XI:
Predicted USA starting XI:
SEE MORE — 5 key matchups to watch in USA-Germany game.