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.