The U.S. will face Germany on Thursday in the 2014 World Cup’s final day of group play. Both teams are looking to advance to the Round of 16.
Team USA tied Portugal in its last match, while Germany played to a draw with Ghana on Saturday. Germany is a heavy favorite in the upcoming contest.
Below are some facts to know about both teams.
Both teams can qualify with a draw
With both teams tied atop Group G, neither needs a victory to stay alive in the tournament. Each club has four points in the standings, while Ghana and Portugal both have one point. Since two teams will advance to the next round and a tie is worth one point, a draw on Thursday would be beneficial to the U.S. and Germany.
Both teams can qualify with a loss based on goal differential
A draw in the Portugal-Ghana match guarantees both Team USA and Germany a trip to the next round. Goal differential is used as the first tiebreaker in the standings, which will make it very difficult for Germany not to advance. They have a plus-5 advantage over Ghana and a plus-eight advantage over Portugal.
The U.S. could be in trouble with a Ghana victory, since they only have a plus-2 advantage in goal differential. However, their plus-five advantage over Portugal could help them move on, despite a win for the team they tied on Sunday.
Jozy Altidore won't play, Matt Besler will play
For the second straight game, the U.S. will be without Altidore, who suffered a hamstring injury in the World Cup opener. If Team USA advances, the striker could be back next week.
There was a fear that Besler wouldn’t be able to go against Germany, after favoring his hamstring. According to U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the defender will be good to go.
Germany is healthy
While the Yanks will be without one of their top players, Germany has no such concerns. Not only is their entire roster healthy, they currently aren’t in danger of losing any players for the next round. No player on the German team received a yellow card in the first two matches.
Team USA has a number of players that were born in Germany. Fabian Jones, Timmy Chandler and Jermaine Jones hail from Germany, as well as John Brooks, who scored the game-winning goal for the U.S. in their first game. Julian Green is also of German-descent. Klinsman was a former star for Germany, including the team that won the 1990 World Cup.
Germany doesn’t have any U.S. born players, but their roster is very diverse. Jerome Boateng has a German mother and a father from Ghana. Mesut Ozil is a practicing Muslim of Turkish decent. Shkodran Mustafi is of Albanian descent. Sami Khedira has a Tunisian father and a German mother. Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski were born in Poland.
Thursday’s match could see very few goals, in large part because of the talented goalies involved. Manuel Neuer might be the best player at his position in the World Cup. He showcased his skills against Portugal, recording a shutout in Germany’s first game.
Tim Howard might not be among the elite goalies in the field, but he’s likely in the next class. Howard had some standout performances for Team USA, including Sunday’s match against Portugal that helped the U.S. avoid a loss.
U.S. beat Germany in their last match, 4-3
Germany may be expected to win on Thursday, but the U.S. got the better of Germany the last time these two teams met. Less than a month before the start of the World Cup, Team USA beat Germany in an exhibition game, on the strength of two goals by Clint Dempsey. Dempsey has scored in both of the team’s World Cup matches.
Germany eliminated the U.S. in the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals, 1-0
Germany ended Team USA’s World Cup run in 2002, preventing the Americans from reaching the semifinals. The U.S. surprisingly reached the quarterfinals after a win over Mexico, and fell just short of advancing, falling victim to a header by Germany in the 39th minute. The result had its share of controversy, when no penalty was awarded for a potential hand-ball that prevented the U.S. from tying the score.