USA v. Germany.
This is the game that will define the new era of American soccer.
After its delectable first two games in Brazil, the Americans on the pitch have provided reasons for the Americans at home to take notice. The Germans on the other hand seem to be going through the motions. While a second place finish in the group stage might be a short-term embarrassment back home, it will look to flex its muscles as runner up status in the FIFA World Rankings.
For the Americans, it might be easy to write off the Ghana win as enough to justify ‘success’ in Brazil. However, the fight in the team to come back from a goal down – in a game that Portugal needed to win – showed their true colors. They are at this tournament to advance beyond the group stage. After a dreadful opening ten minutes, the USMNT started imposing their style of play on the game, looking more comfortable with the ball and forcing the Portuguese to chase the game. This new found confidence will give them the belief that they can challenge any team in Brazil.
Going into the final game of the group stage, Germany will look to recover their opening game swagger. While they are likely to advance into the second stage, their last game showed a dent in the German machine. Ghana took it to the Germans with their pace and creativity, needing a result for a chance to play beyond the group stage. While the result ended in a draw, the Germans looked frazzled and even lucky to sneak in a goal to grab a point from the game.
It’s been a wild start to this World Cup. And one wouldn’t be surprised to see the Americans enforce their will on the game and walk away with first place in the group. Or, with every team in the group still alive to move on to the knockout stages, it would be tempting to pick Ghana or Portugal as the runner up. In reality, we’ll likely see both teams playing a respectful 90 minutes, with little chance of an upset of any kind.
Prediction: USA 1 – 1 Germany.