The United States and Germany can both reach the World Cup knockout stage with a draw when they meet on Thursday but will be aiming to win the match and Group G to avoid a potential second round clash with dark horses Belgium.
“Both teams go into this game and they want to win the group. So we go into this game and try to beat Germany. To put ourselves in the driving seat for the last 16. That is our goal,” U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann said.
Coming second likely means facing Belgium, who are three points clear and play bottom side South Korea, who have only a very slim chance of qualifying, in their final game.
The group winners will face the runners-up in Group H, which will probably be Algeria or Russia who meet in their last group match on Thursday in Curitiba.
Despite the friendship between the U.S. coach and Joachim Loew, Klinsmann’s assistant when the ex-striker coached Germany at the 2006 World Cup but who is now in charge of the Germans, they will not be exchanging pleasantries before the match.
A win for either would open the door for Ghana and Portugal to slip into second place.
Should Germany win, Ghana can go through if they beat Portugal and surpass the goal difference deficit of two between them and the United States.
Portugal could also benefit from a U.S. loss by beating Ghana, but they would have to make up a goal difference deficit of five goals if they are to progress.
If the U.S. win, the prospects for Ghana and Portugal are much bleaker.
Having scored six and conceded only two in their games so far, Germany are four goals to the good in terms of goal difference, a gap that is highly unlikely to be bridged by Portugal or Ghana.
Klinsmann told reporters that there would be no repeat of 1982’s “non-aggression pact of Gijon”, when West Germany and Austria played out a 1-0 win for the Germans at a pedestrian pace, a result that allowed both sides to go through.
“We have that fighting spirit and energy and determination to do well in every single game,” Klinsmann.
“I don’t think it will be a game for draws. Both teams will go into the game and want to win the group.”