The USA have defied all expectations in World Cup 2014 so far and now deservedly stand 90 minutes away from reaching the last 16 for just the fifth time in their history.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s side was a matter of seconds away from confirming its knockout-stage status in its match against Portugal, but last-minute heartbreak means it needs to go again.
Standing in its way is a nation that many people would hand-pick as the hardest to take points from—Klinsmann’s native Germany.
Venue: Arena Pernambuco, Recife
Date: Thursday 26 June
Time: 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET
TV Info: BBC One (U.K.)/ESPN (U.S.)
Germany Still Not Across the Line
Though the Germans sit top of Group G with a far superior goal difference to their follow competitors, their knockout-stage place is still yet to be secured.
While they’re looking likely to progress, even in the event of a USA win, this World Cup has taught us that absolutely anything is possible.
Even their 2-2 draw with Ghana came as a surprise, but it’s made Germany more keen than ever not to let the group winners’ tag slip through their fingers, and the USA may just feel the wrath of that.
Neither the USA nor Germany have had trouble finding the net in Brazil, but the latter have been in a league of their own on the scoring front.
At the heart of it all is Thomas Mueller, who netted a hat-trick in Germany’s opening 4-0 victory over Portugal. However, the Bayern Munich star is more focused on seeing his nation succeed than reaping personal glory—per the Press Association (via FIFA.com):
I won the Golden Boot four years ago and, to be honest, I wouldn’t know where to put another one. It is never my goal to be the top scorer, but rather to be world champion. Of course, it’s nice to see your name at the top, but that’s no big deal. There is another title which is far more valuable.
Mueller is one of the most unpredictable forwards in the tournament, possibly due to the fact that he’s a midfielder by trade, but either way, the results are devastating.
Keeping tabs on the 24-year-old will be crucial to USA’s cause, but Germany’s squad has a few more stars to worry about, too.
Among them is Miroslav Klose, who became the joint-highest all-time World Cup goalscorer with his strike against Portugal and proved that he still has what it takes to cut it at the highest level—a sentiment echoed by Gary Lineker:
Klose is ridiculous! The ultimate big tournament poacher.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 21, 2014
If the USA sit back, then Klose, Mueller and co. will likely run riot in Recife. Instead, they need to take a leaf out of Ghana’s book and put pressure on Germany’s defence from the offset.
If Klinsmann does set his side up to do just that, then USA could be claiming the crucial point that they need. As OptaJack’s statistic reveals, it looks like they’ll need to score to stand any chance of claiming a draw:
They certainly have the right man in charge to fire them up on their road to success, though, with Klinsmann saying that his side is going for the win, per the Agence France-Presse (via FIFA.com):
“We have that fighting spirit, and we give everything in every game. We will go to Recife and we will give everything to beat Germany. That is our goal.”
With both teams going all out for the victory to give them the result they need for progression, it’s set to be a thriller in Recife on Thursday.
It’s one of those matches that could go either way, but the Germans’ personnel look like they just have the edge despite USA’s never-say-die attitude.
Prediction: USA 1-2 Germany