Well, that was decidedly not cool.
With just 30 seconds of scoreless soccer separating the US from a guaranteed berth in the Round of 16, Cristiano Ronaldo awoke from his 94-and-a-half-minute slumber to assist Silvestre Varela on a vital equalizer. With Sunday behind them, though, the US will have one more chance to book their ticket out of Group G on Thursday afternoon against Germany.
TIE FIGHTERS: It’s pretty simple for the US – anything more than zero points from their game against the Germans will see them through to the next round. For Germany, anything more than zero points will guarantee them first place in the group. The easy solution for both teams would be to shake hands and play out a draw. Of course, to hear Jurgen Klinsmann tell it, the US are prepared to do no such thing: They want all three points out of this one.
WINNING TEAM, LOSING TEAM: So if there is a loser in this game, what happens? Potentially nothing. If Ghana and Portugal draw their own Group G finale – a game played concurrently with US-Germany – then both the US and Germany will go through to the next round. If Ghana win by more than two goals, or they win by one goal in a high-scoring contest, and the US lose, Ghana will advance (and will probably do some dancing). If Portugal win, they will have to do so by five goals to erase their goal differential and take second place.
STIR IT UP: After thumping the Portuguese 4-0 in their first game, the Germans were taken to task by Ghana in a dramatic 2-2 draw. Die Mannschaft looked sluggish and shaky in midfield, and Philipp Lahm, who usually plays right back but was fielded as a holding midfielder, committed a terrible turnover to gift the Ghanaians their first goal. After introducing midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and striker Miroslave Klose, Germany settled down and put in an equalizer. Germany’s coaching staff have dismissed the idea of changing things up too much, but you have to wonder if that’s just a bluff.
THE MAGICIAN: In the build-up to the US game against Germany, ESPN studio host Mike Tirico drew an apt comparison for Klinsmann’s upcoming game against Die Mannschaft: This is like Magic Johnson coaching against the Dream Team. Klinsmann is a legend in Germany, helping his country win a World Cup as a player and guiding them to the 2006 semifinals as a coach, and he is credited with much of the international success the Germans have experienced since 2006. With a win against Germany, Klinsmann can begin to replicate that success with the US.
MIND GAMES: Current Germany head coach Joachim Löw was Klinsmann’s assistant coach at the 2006 World Cup, and according to some was the man pulling the tactical strings behind the scene. Whether or not that’s true, there will be no secrets between the two coaches when they face off on Thursday, and it will be fascinating to see the kinds of moves each makes to try and rattle the other.
THE STAR YOU KNOW
- Thomas Müller, Germany – He might be the most dangerous player in this German lineup. He is certainly the highest scoring after his hat trick against Portugal.
THE PLAYER WHO WILL SURPRISE YOU
- Michael Bradley, US – Let me explain. Bradley looked not-very-good against Ghana. He looked good against Portugal, but not perfect. Using these two data points, we can forecast that Bradley is going to play his best game of the tournament so far against Germany.
Source: MLS Soccer