GER-USA match features coaches duel

U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann speaks to the media at Pernambuco Arena in Recife, Brazil, June 25,...

U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann speaks to the media at Pernambuco Arena in Recife, Brazil, June 25, 2014. (BRIAN SNYDER/Reuters)

Kurtis Larson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:28 PM ET

BRASILIA - The only way U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann is getting through to his German buds is by dialling star-6-7.

With the two nations set to meet in a decisive Group G fixture in Recife in less than 24 hours, it seems friendships -- at least for 90 minutes -- no longer matter.

"My relationship with Jurgen is brilliant," German coach Joachim Loew told Ghanaian reporters, "but we have not had any frequent contact during this tournament, and I believe it will stay that way until after the tournament."

Together, the duo guided Germany to a third-place finish back in 2006, with Loew, an assistant eight years ago, acting as Klinsmann's bag-carrier.

"I will give (the German bench) hugs before the game and then leave to the side," Klinsmann told reporters. "We're gonna get the job done."

What that means remains to be seen.

With both teams currently sitting comfortably on four points apiece, a draw will see both advance.

And that has pundits here in Brazil talking pre-game tactics.

It has been more than three decades since the Disgrace in Gijon, a 1982 World Cup group match between Germany and Austria that saw the two sides allegedly conspire.

There are other instances, too, including a European championship tilt between Denmark and Sweden 10 years back.

"The message is very simple: We want to beat Germany," Klinsmann said, according to MLSsoccer.com. "We want to be first in our group, so we're not thinking about a tie."

For one thing, a tie would ultimately mean a game against Belgium to kick off the knockout phase of this month-long tournament.

The winner between the two sides will meet a weaker Algeria or Russia in the Round of 16.

The Americans are already kicking themselves for even being in this situation.

During Sunday's match in Manaus, the Yanks were seconds away from securing passage against Portugal before they conceded a late equalizer.

"If we wouldn't have ended up in a tie in the last 30 seconds of the game against Portugal, it obviously would be a lot easier," Klinsmann told reporters. "But now as we set out for the game, we have to do it the hard way. That's what we've been prepping for."

After looking unstoppable in a 4-0 thrashing of the Portuguese to start the tournament, the Germans were nearly upset last weekend by a Ghanaian team that's now counting on the former world champs to beat the U.S.

The fact the Germans have had an extra day's rest is something Klinsmann addressed.

"They played Saturday (against Ghana). We played Sunday," Klinsmann pointed out. "We played in the Amazon. They played in a place where you don't have to travel. Things are set up for the big teams to move on."

He might be German, but Klinsmann has a full grasp on building up Team America as an underdog.

"We've seen this is a World Cup full of surprises," the U.S. coach said in his pre-match press conference. "We want to be a surprise.

"We are very capable of beating Germany and we know that, without being over-confident."

He added that Germany is a favourite to win the entire thing -- something the U.S. doesn't claim to be.

Tactically, look for the U.S. to set up in the same 4-1-4-1 that saw it nearly "upset" Portugal, with Clint Dempsey as the lone man up front.

The U.S. announced earlier this week that Dempsey's striking parter, Jozy Altidore (hamstring), remains out.

The U.S. is expected to sit back with the same three midfielders -- Michael Bradley, Jermain Jones and Kyle Beckerman -- that shut down Portugal's attack before looking to get forward through German-born fullback Fabian Johnson, who's one of handful on this U.S. side with European ties.

Under Klinsmann, the U.S. has brought in a number of players who cut their teeth in Germany's system.

Jones, Johnson, John Brooks, Julian Green and Timmy Chandler are all card-carrying Germans, some of which speak very little English.

Oddly enough, a half-dozen individuals will be listening to two familiar anthems in a few hour's time, not to mention playing against countrymen some of them played with at the youth level.

"Every team who comes up against us has to swallow hard," German striker Thomas Muller told reporters. "That's our aim: We want to be uncomfortable opponents."

Flights here in Brazil offer an in-flight montage of World Cups past.

One of the lasting images from the video is a shot of Klinsmann walking arm-and-arm with Loew.

Little did they know they'd one day be all set to go in a battle that could decide who progresses and who goes home.

FRINGS' 'HAND OF GOD' STILL REMEMBERED

Germany has its own "Hand of God."

Like Argentina's Maradona at Mexico 1986, Torsten Frings produced a similar moment that lifted the Germans to a 1-0 quarterfinal win over the U.S. in 2002.

But unlike Maradona's bit of trickery, Frings' egregious handball prevented a potential U.S. goal.

Twelve years later, the U.S. and Germany are set to meet at a World Cup for the first time since.

Looking back, the lone goal the last time these two sides tangled in a tournament arrived five minutes before halftime when German star Michael Ballack scored off a restart.

Five minutes after the break, the incident Frings is remembered for around U.S. soccer circles occurred.

With German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn obviously beaten off a redirected restart, Frings, who was on the post, stuck out his hand to prevent the ball from crossing the goal line.

Scottish referee Hugh Dallas either didn't see it, or decided to swallow his whistle.

In retrospect, Frings should have been sent off and the Americans awarded a penalty.

Instead, the Germans progressed all the way to the final that year.

Following a disastrous showing at the 1998 tournament, the U.S. turned heads with its quarterfinal performance in '02, leading to soccer pundits around the globe beginning to take notice.


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