IT'S NO EXAGGERATION to say this Germany team is as talented as any the U.S. has ever faced in a World Cup.

The Germans are deservedly ranked No. 2 in the world and are absolutely loaded with truly world-class players. As many as six starters could come from the Bayern Munich team that has dominated Europe for the past few years, while Champions League runner-up Borussia Dortmund as well as red-hot Arsenal will also contribute their fair share of impact players to the squad.

Germany is not invincible, but it has made at least the semifinals in the past two European Championships and World Cups and will plan on doing the same this time around.


As for this cycle, Germany led all of Europe in goals scored in World Cup qualifying, netting a cool 36 in just 10 games on their way to securing 28 out of a possible 30 points. It was the type of performance that one has come to expect from the Germans, who have been the class of Europe alongside Spain for the better part of the last decade.

For all of their offensive dominance, it was not an entirely flawless qualifying campaign. Seventeen European teams conceded fewer goals than Germany, as all of that offense brought about a bit of instability at the back. Minor defensive weakness aside, the Germans left no doubt about their qualification as they cruised into the tournament yet again.


Considering just how potent the Germans are when teams are forced to attack them, the U.S.’s top priority will be not conceding an early goal. If Klinsmann’s men can withstand the early pressure, the U.S. will have a fighting chance.

In Germany’s three losses in the past two major tournaments (two in the 2010 World Cup, one in Euro 2012), an interesting trend has emerged. In each loss, Germany conceded at least one goal via a cross. It’s a slight deficiency that the U.S. will look to exploit. And it’s a deficiency that Klinsmann seems to be well aware of, on the basis of the 4-3 win in June at least.

Now, the two U.S. goals from crosses came against a German team missing its Bayern and Dortmund contingent, but it is the system more so than the players that makes Germany vulnerable. By fielding three skilled creative midfielders in front of the two holding midfielders, Germany often leaves massive gaps in front of its fullbacks, as the likes of Ozil, Reus, Gotze, et al. often forgo their defensive duties. It’s a tactical weakness that is illustrated perfectly in Jozy Altidore’s opener.—BLAKE THOMSEN







They Said It ...


The Coach

THE DEBONAIR JOACHIM LOW has led the Germans to the 2008 Euro final, 2012 Euro semifinal, and 2010 World Cup semifinal in his three major tournaments in charge, building off Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup semifinal appearance in 2006.

The deep connections between Low and Klinsmann are rather obvious. Low was an assistant under Klinsmann at the 2006 World Cup, and he has continued the attacking style of play that Germany debuted when it hosted that tournament. Many say Low was the tactical mind of the 2006 German team, while Klinsmann played more of a motivator role. The proud Klinsmann no doubt perceives that train of thought as an insult, and he’ll want nothing more than to beat his former apprentice when they meet on June 26.


The Tactics

FOR HALF A CENTURY leading up to the 2006 World Cup, the German national team was notable for its defensive solidity and innate ability to grind out results. Then came a sun-tanned, idealistic, former national team striker named Jurgen Klinsmann who helped unleash the Germans’ inner attacking potential.

Current manager Joachim Low generally sets up the team in a 4-2-3-1, but the quality and versatility of the players at his disposal lends itself to an extremely fluid system. The likes of Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus, and Mario Gotze are often given the freedom to roam the attacking third of the field as they see fit. The attacking third fluidity produces some gorgeous attacking soccer, but the offensive mindedness of Germany’s stars can leave holes in midfield once they lose possession.

Few countries aside from Brazil and Spain boast more quality on the ball, and thus the Germans have no problems dictating the flow of play. But the squad is still most comfortable (and most lethal) when playing on the counter, as it showed in its back-to-back four-goal eviscerations of England and Argentina in the knockout stage in South Africa.


The History

THE GERMANS HAVE MATCHED or bettered the U.S.’s best-ever World Cup performance every time out since 1954, making at least the quarterfinals in a preposterous 15 straight tournaments. In the past two World Cups Germany has scored in bunches, netting three or more goals in seven of their 14 games. To put that into perspective, the U.S. has scored three goals in a World Cup game once since 1930.

And there is certainly recent World Cup history between the U.S. and Germany. Few will forget the U.S.’s epic quarterfinal loss against Germany in 2002. Though Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley are the only holdovers from that 2002 squad (unless Steve Cherundolo can rally), the Americans will still be looking to get revenge after they lost in highly controversial fashion.


They Said It...

"I accept it as it is. Now we know who and where we’ll be playing, and we can start planning for the World Cup. We’ll need to get used to the temperature and the humidity. We played Ghana in 2010 and Portugal in 2012. So we’re playing against teams we know well. And obviously to have USA and [former Germany coach] Jürgen Klinsmann in the group is also something very special." —Joachim Low

"It's an interesting and evenly matched group. I think all four teams have a chance of going through. The clash with Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng is going to be particularly special." —Benedikt Howedes

"We are going to Brazil with the aim of winning the tournament. We will have to play some good teams anyway so if we play them early on or later, it doesn't really matter. We have to beat them all." —Mesut Ozil

“It’s exciting to have Jurgen on our sideline and the experience that he brings with his German background and quite a lot of the German-American players that we have. As tough a team as Germany is, I think they’re certainly one of the favorites for the World Cup, we feel like we have an edge because we have Jurgen’s experience and his inside knowledge of that team.”—United States goalkeeper Tim Howard