On June 26th, the United States and Germany will meet at the Arena Pernambuco to cap off their World Cup group stage campaigns. Both are favorites to advance from their group to the knockout rounds, but that could change quickly. The strength of this group and inability for anyone to pull away from the pack sets up for a very interesting game.
The United States were trying to build on their opening day win vs Ghana, but after allowing Portugal to go 1-0 up after a terrible Geoff Cameron error, the US equalised with Jermaine Jones’s first World Cup goal. The Americans went 2-1 up through a Clint Dempsey goal and it was absolute ecstasy for Jurgen Klinsmann and his players. With qualification from the group of death on seconds away, the Americans were heart broken conceding the latest ever World Cup regulation goal allowing Portugal to equalise at 2-2.
After one of the most convincing performances of the tournament, Germany went to face Ghana, who were playing for their tournament lives. The first half of the game was a non starter, but the second half was an amazing 45 minutes of football. The Germans opened the scoring with Mario Goetze’s head to knee to back of the net goal. Ghana quickly equalised through Andre Ayew and then took the lead through Asamoah Gyan. Germany pulled even through their record goalscorer, Miroslav Klose. Klose’s goal drew him level with Ronaldo for most World Cup goals ever. Despite Germany pushing for the third goal, the game finished 2-2 leaving Germany with four points and Ghana with one.
The United States will once again be without their first choice striker, Jozy Altidore. Germany’s only injury question is whether Jerome Boateng will be able to go after being subbed off at half time with a hip injury. Jurgen Klinsmann has criticized FIFA for giving the US a much tougher travel schedule than the Germans and one less day off than the Germans.
A draw puts both Germany and the US through to the knockout rounds regardless of the Ghana – Portugal result. Even if Germany lose they are likely to go through as they have a huge edge in goal difference on everyone else. In the nine times Germany and the USA have met they have never drawn. The Germans have six wins and three losses against the Americans.
The key man for the United States is their goal scoring talisman, Clint Dempsey. Dempsey has scored in both games for the United States so far in the tournament. Assuming Klinsmann does not change his approach that did well against Portugal, the Seattle Sounders’ star will be starting on his own up top. The Texas-born forward will need to hold his own up top against the strong German defence. The former Fulham star will likely need to be heavily involved in the US attack if they are to get something from the match.
The key man for Germany will be their midfield general, Toni Kroos. Germany adjusted their system from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 for this World Cup. Kroos is in the three in midfield and is the most creative of the three. The Bayern Munich man has the job of controlling the tempo of the game. The 24 year old can control the game for Germany and pick incisive passes from deeper in the midfield. Kroos’s ability to control the game will be vital for the Germans in beating the US.
The United States put in a very strong performance against Portugal, but Germany are a whole different animal. The Germans are arguably the best European team left in the tournament and contenders to win it. Germany will go in to this match already pretty confident of their qualification regardless of the result. They will still want to perform at the highest level and come out with as many points as possible.