What the USA vs. Portugal Result Means for Germany Ahead of Their Final Match

Cristian NyariContributor IJune 22, 2014

From left, Germany's Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Miroslav Klose and Thomas Mueller stand over a free kick during the group G World Cup soccer match between Germany and Ghana at the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil, Saturday, June 21, 2014.  (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Frank Augstein/Associated Press

The Group of Death remains wide-open following the dramatic draw between the United States and Portugal Sunday night.

Any of the four teams in the group can still advance which will make for an exciting last matchday on Thursday.

Let's take a look at what exactly this result means for Germany and what they can expect from the United States going into their final group-stage match.

Generally speaking, this is a scenario Germany wanted to avoid. They would have wrapped up qualification with a win against Ghana, but they now need a result against to ensure they make it to the knockout round.

Technically, Germany can still advance with a loss against Jurgen Klinsmann's team, provided Ghana and Portugal draw in the other game.

It should be said, however, that leaving any configuration in the hands of other teams is not a scenario Joachim Low and his staff would be comfortable with.

A draw favors both teams as it would put Germany through as group winners and the United States in second, but Low emphasized that they are there to win the game and the group, not settle for any particular result.

Simply put, Germany will want to win the game. And to some, Germany have to win the game.

Low's team need a good performance and a win to put the lackluster showing of the Ghana game behind them. 

The Portugal result may have given the players a false sense of confidence that was quickly brought back down to earth by an eager and dangerous Ghana team, a Ghana team that could have easily won the game were it not for Miroslav Klose's late heroics.

Now it is all about adjusting, learning from their mistakes and regaining their focus, and that's where the U.S. match will play a big part.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer admitted they were too sloppy and made uncharacteristic errors that cost them.

"We boosted Ghana with our own mistakes. That should never be happening to us at a World Cup. Ghana are not the best team tactically and if we'd only played the ball around better, we wouldn't have had any problems," he said after the match.

Indeed, Germany lost control in midfield at times, and players, such as Philipp Lahm, usually so composed, gave the ball away cheaply on more than one occasion. 

Ghana imposed themselves physically on Germany and exploited their flanks to great effect. Low's decision to use two center-backs in the full-back positions worked well against Portugal but not so much against a team that pressed them so tirelessly.

Like Ghana, the U.S. has a team that presses well collectively and uses the flanks to great ability. Against Portugal, Team USA thrived playing balls out to full-backs who bombed forward on counter-attacks. 

Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley have done well to provide the U.S. with width, and that will be one of the biggest challenges for Germany on Thursday.

Will Low stick with the stay-at-home defenders in the full-back spots or press the issue by utilizing more offensive-minded players there such as Kevin Grosskreutz or Erik Durm? 

The first two games brought opposite results, and the tactical decision Low makes in that area could prove decisive. 

Furthermore, Low will have a big decision to make on who to start in the middle, Bastian Schweinsteiger or Sami Khedira.

Khedira was very effective in the Portugal game but struggled physically against Ghana, eventually being substituted. Schweinsteiger, on the other hand, was not fit enough to play in the first game but came on and changed the game against Portugal.

Whereas Khedira provides Germany with an extra engine and drive in midfield, Schweinsteiger adds a greater degree of control and a bigger range of passing. 

Playing the athletic Khedira against the combative U.S. midfield makes sense, but utilizing Schweinsteiger's ball movement could help create quicker transitions and counter-attacks.

Team USA's draw with Portugal also showed that they can move the ball as well as anyone in Brazil, so Germany will not only have to be cautious about being caught on the break but work really hard to keep the ball to begin with.

Like he did in his time with Germany, Klinsmann infused in this U.S. side a determined will to win and the confidence to compete and beat any side in the world.

If Germany want to go far in Brazil, they need to regain the momentum they had after the Portugal game and prove that the new system Low implemented is good enough to take forward.

Thursday's game will be a reunion of old friends, but on the field it will be a hotly contested game between two teams that absolutely want to win this group.