Today at noon Eastern time, the biggest game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup will take place on ESPN. USA vs Germany is a pivotal match-up full of dramatic storylines.
Not only does the USMNT roster include four German-Americans, but U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann used to be the head coach of the German national team. To top that off, the current German national team coach, Joachim Low, used to be Klinsmann’s assistant coach before he left.
Fans from New York to Nuremberg will be glued to their televisions as the leading teams of the Group of Death will battle for not just a higher placement in the tournament’s knockout round, but something much deeper.
Here’s what you need to know about USA vs Germany:
1. Germany Is Favored to Win
Germany, which routed Portugal in its first game only to narrowly avoid losing in a 2-2 draw with Ghana, is favored to beat the U.S. and clinch the top spot in Group G.
Paddy Power gives the Germans 4/6 odds of winning, with 19/10 odds of a draw. The United States is a 9/1 longshot to win — the only scenario in which the Americans would win the group.
Bovada has the U.S. as slightly less of a longshot, with 15/2 odds of winning and 11/5 odds of a draw. The oddsmarker gives the Germans 20/33 odds of winning.
2. The Head Coaches of Germany & USA Are Best Friends
USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and German head coach Joachim Low’s relationship began when they both attended a coaching school after their professional careers ended. In 2004, Klinsmann was named head coach of the German national team when Rudi Völler was fired.
As soon as the position was his, he brought in his good friend Low to be his right hand man.
The duo brought the German national team to third place overall in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, a year after they dominated in the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup.
In July of 2006, Klinsmann decided against renewing his contract as the head trainer of the German national team. That same day, Low was chosen to take over the position.
Exactly 5 years later, Klinsmann decided to take the job he was offered as the new U.S. national team coach after Bob Bradley was fired in 2011. Now, he finds himself facing the exact team he built head on.
Klinsmann told reporters that in Brazil, he and Low are not friends, but after, things will go back to normal.
There is no time right now to have friendship calls.”
Low agreed to keeping their relationship completely professional, telling reporters:
My relationship with Jurgen is brilliant, but we have not had any frequent contacts during this tournament, and I believe it will stay that way till after the tournament.”
Low still follows Klinsmann’s style of coaching which will be seen in the game this afternoon.
3. To Guarantee Advance, the USA Needs to Win or Draw — or Have Ghana Lose or Draw
Both teams, Germany and USA, will advance for sure with either a win or a draw, but the Germans have a leg up on the Americans after their 4-0 annihilation of Portugal in the first round to put them ahead of the group in points.
If a team wins, they get 3 points. If they tie, they get 1 point. If they lose they get 0 points.
Portugal’s late goal on Sunday tied up the game to give the U.S. 1 point in Group G instead of 3.
If Portugal and Ghana have a draw, the U.S. will be moving on for sure since the U.S. is 3 points ahead in the group, so Ghana would only get 1 point for the tie leaving them down 2 points still.
Another scenario for the U.S. is if they lose, which would keep them at 4 points in the group and Ghana wins giving them 3 points to tie the U.S. with 4 points in the group. In this case the U.S. could be stepping into a tiebreaker to move on. If Portugal wins against Ghana, the U.S. will be in much better shape since Portugal is already down by 5 goals in the group and has no chance of moving on. However, if Ghana beats Portugal, the African team 2 more goals than the U.S. to beat them in the tie breaker.
4. There Are 4 German-Americans On the USMNT
This particular match up is the most dramatic of any in this year’s World Cup with a U.S. national team roster that includes four German-Americans.
5. There is a Conspiracy Theory
Naturally, there has been much speculation between the match up between Germany and the U.S.
Both teams have an extremely high chance of moving to the knockout round of the tournament and escaping the Group of Death. All both teams need are a draw to secure the position which has prompted people to question whether the longtime friends have come to an agreement to tie the match.
Klinsmann and Low have both denied allegations about any accordance mentioned. Reporters also brought up a past discrepancy called “Gijon” (Gijon Spain) in the 1982 Olympics where West Germany and Austria secretly agreed on a draw in order for both teams to advance over Algeria.
It was because of the “Gijon” incident that FIFA has arranged final first round games to be played at the exact same time in order to ensure that none of the teams can make such an arrangement.
Klinsmann told press:
I think you’re talking about a game that is decades away that is only part of Germany’s history and not the United States. We’re not made for ties. The United States is known to give everything they have in every single game. We have that fighting spirit and that energy.”
He continued later:
So, we’re going to go into Recife very ambitious with a lot of confidence to beat Germany. This is our goal. The message is very simple: We want to beat Germany. We want to be first in our group, so we’re not thinking about a tie.”