Germany and USA both booked their places in the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup 2014 on Thursday, with the former winning a wet tussle in Recife 1-0.
Thomas Muller enhanced his Golden Boot credentials by notching his fourth of the tournament, guiding a beautiful shot expertly into the corner from distance after a corner.
Formations & XIs
USA lined up in the same 4-2-3-1 shape we saw against Portugal but made two changes to the starting XI. Brad Davis lined up on the wing and Omar Gonzalez replaced Geoff Cameron at centre-back.
Germany utilised their usual 4-3-3, with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski making their first starts of the tournament.
The first seven minutes were all German pressure. The USA barely touched the ball and were locked inside their own third.
Joachim Low's men stayed patient on the ball against a low block, probing for areas of weakness and working each channel to see who looked likely to lose track of their man.
After the middle held firm, Schweinsteiger began darting left with Toni Kroos and overloaded the left flank, but the intention was not to overpower that side but more to drag markers away and then switch it to Jerome Boateng free on the right.
They used this move three times in quick succession, all ending with a lofted ball to Boateng who would cross it first time into the danger zone, and only excellent last-ditch defending from Gonzalez kept them out.
Limiting Fabian Johnson
Before the game, we spoke about the US springing Fabian Johnson forward from right-back as a primary mode of attack. Low clocked it too and opted to play in a way that would limit the amount of times the speedster could tear forward.
Steady, monotonous possession was a defence mechanism; it prevented the US from having the ball so they couldn't use it. Podolski came in on the left to start too, presumably with the hardworking proviso of tracking his runs and protecting Benedikt Howedes.
The first time Johnson saw daylight and was able to start his engine, Howedes cynically chopped him down and collected a yellow card. It made Germany's approach even more cautious on that side.
Miroslav Klose was introduced at the break and slotted in up front, pushing Muller into an even freer role nominally from the left.
It gave Germany a focal point in attack and a man for the US centre-backs to hone in on, as despite great movement up front, Die Mannschaft often trip themselves over by clogging the edge of the box.
Sometimes it's a little too neat and a little too tidy; with Klose, they were able to send in crosses on a regular basis and create space for themselves, too.
Muller benefited from the attention on Klose from a corner early in the second half, picking up a stray ball and firing home the winner unopposed.
Both teams progress, but one looks in decidedly better shape than the other.
It's a fantastic achievement for the US to clamber out of Group G, but expectations have risen, the public are hungry for success, and they won't be likely to win their next game unless something changes.
Clint Dempsey is doing a valiant job leading the line, but zero shots on target all game, per WhoScored.com, is not positive. They need Jozy Altidore back as soon as possible; no one runs the channels and holds the ball to relieve pressure like he does on this side.
For now, though, Jurgen Klinsmann is just delighted to reach the round of 16. Speaking live on TV after the match, the manager said:
It's huge. Obviously we wanted at least a tie out of this game, but maybe in the beginning we should them too much respect.
Everybody said we had no chance [of going through], we took that chance and now we really want to move on and make a point.
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