The USA will be assured of a place in the last 16 of the World Cup if they avoid defeat against Germany in Recife on Thursday (12:00pm EST, live on ESPN).
Germany and the USA are tied on four points at the top of Group G, with Germany ahead by virtue of their superior goal difference (+4 to +1). Ghana (-1) and Portugal (-4) have a point apiece going into the final round of matches.
There is not space here to enumerate all of the possible permutations, but the good news for the USA is that the majority see them go through. A win or a draw qualifies them regardless of the result in the other fixture, while a defeat would still see them progress if the other match ends in a draw or if Portugal win while failing to overturn their goal difference deficit.
Indeed, the most likely scenario in which the USA would be eliminated is if they lose to Germany and Ghana defeat Portugal.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s (pictured) side were on the verge of sealing their qualification with a match to spare against Portugal on Sunday, only for Silvestre Varela to peg them back to 2-2 in the fifth minute of stoppage time. It was a heartbreaking end to a strong performance from the USA, who had fought back from a goal down to lead 2-1 going into the final stages.
There were nevertheless plenty of positives for Klinsmann to take from the match. His side created better quality chances than their opponents and largely limited the influence of Cristiano Ronaldo, with Jermaine Jones going a good job in backing up Fabian Johnson in defence. On the negative side, both Portugal goals came from mistakes by the USA.
Klinsmann has formed a strong and energetic side who are capable of matching up physically against most opponents. Whether they have the necessary subtly to break down teams who take a more defensive approach remains to be seen, but they would certainly not be undeserving of their place in the last 16 if results go their way on Thursday.
Klinsmann has indicated that Jozy Altidore (hamstring) could be ready to return to the starting XI for this match. Clint Dempsey picked up a minor knock against Portugal, but is not thought to be in danger of missing out.
Germany were highly impressive in their 4-0 victory over Portugal in their opening match of the World Cup, with the varied forward movement of Mario Goetze, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller causing all manner of problems for the Portuguese defence. They were, however, less imposing against Ghana, drawing 2-2 in an exciting and open match in Fortaleza.
Goetze gave Germany the lead just after half-time, but Ghana fought back, driving forward in numbers and causing problems for the German defence with their pace and power. They got particular joy down their right-hand side and turned the match around with two goals in the space of nine minutes. Miroslav Klose came off the bench to equalise shortly thereafter.
It was a match that highlighted some of Germany’s flaws, namely the lack of pace in their defence and their difficulty dealing with teams who press them high up the pitch – the latter of which had previously been seen in their narrow friendly win over Chile earlier this year. But they scored twice and still have time to reach their optimum level.
Jerome Boateng (thigh) and Sami Khedra (knee) have been cleared to return to training following the injuries they picked up in the draw with Ghana. Thomas Muller picked up a nasty head injury in the same fixture but is not thought to be in danger of missing this game.
USA vs Germany Betting Picks Advice
These two sides have met on nine previous occasions, with Germany recording six wins to the USA’s three, including victories to nil in the World Cups of 1998 and 2002. The USA did, however, triumph in their most recent meeting, winning 4-3 in a highly entertaining match in Washington last June. Dempsey scored twice.
Group G was considered a group of death for the USA prior to the tournament, but they are now on the verge of qualification and come into their final group match bolstered by a strong performance against Portugal. They are likely to get some opportunities on the counter-attack and must ensure they take advantage when chances do come their way.
Despite their defensive worries, Germany are still a very capable team and have a number of dangerous attacking players who combine well and move intelligently across the width of the pitch. The USA will have to be well-organised and fully concentrated for the entirety of the match if they hope to prevent Germany from scoring.
We believe a score draw, a result that would send both teams through to the knockout stages, is the most likely outcome.