Rio de Janeiro: Juergen Klinsmann has insisted the United States will be playing to win when they face a Germany team managed by his old friend Joachim Loew on Thursday.
The United States’ thrilling 2-2 draw with Portugal in Sunday’s Group G match has left Klinsmann’s side level on four points heading into their final game. A draw in Thursday’s match in Recife would see Germany qualify as group winners with the United States finishing runners up.
That scenario has brought back memories of the disreputable 1982 group-stage match between then West Germany and Austria. In that game, both teams qualified at the expense of Algeria after a mutually beneficial 1-0 German victory where both sides went through the motions.
Klinsmann said there is no chance of similar skulduggery tarnishing the Germany-United States game on Thursday. “You’re talking about a game that is decades ago,” Klinsmann said in reference to the 1982 game.
“That is only a part of Germany’s history and not part of that of the United States. I think if you look at the past of the United States team, we always try to make things happen.
“We have that fighting spirit, and we give everything in every game,” said Klinsmann.
“We will go to Recife and give everything to beat Germany. That is our goal.”
Klinsmann said even though Loew — assistant during Klinsmann’s time as Germany coach — was his good friend, there would be no question of the two men reaching an agreement before kick-off.
“Jogi is doing his job. We are good friends, and I am doing mine. My job is to get everything done to get us into the round of 16, and that is what I’m going to do. There is no time now to have friendship calls. That time is done.
“Both teams go into this game and they want to win the group. So we go into this game with an attempt to beat Germany and put ourselves in the driving seat for the last 16… That’s our goal...”
Portugal coach Paulo Bento was asked if he believed Klinsmann’s vow to play all out for a win against Germany. “In my entire career as a player and coach, I have never been suspicious about my colleagues playing for a draw,” he said.
“Our obligation is to beat Ghana and get full points. Although our chances are slim (to go through to the knockout round), we will maintain our professional standards until the very last minute,” he said.
Klinsmann, meanwhile, stressed that his players had earned the respect of their opponents with a battling performance as they prepare to face the three-Time World Cup winners.
"We would have been very happy with four points from the opening two games," Klinsmann said. "But conceding a late goal was a bummer that we have to swallow. We felt very confident after we turned it around… Shouldn't have conceded that goal…
“It was very emotional for all of us — the players, the fans, the bench - but we have to move on and move on quickly,” Klinsmann said.
“Portugal is off the table, we have to recover for the game against Germany because the World Cup is always about the next game."
Klinsmann, though, complimented Cristiano Ronaldo's pinpoint cross, which he said followed a series of errors by the United States.
“Goals always happen on a sequence of mistakes and although we had three centre-backs on the field, they couldn't manage to cut out that cross from Ronaldo,” he said.
United States: Tim Howard; Fabian Johnson, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, DaMarcus Beasley; Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi (Omar Gonzalez, 90+1), Alejandro Bedoya (De-Andre Yedlin, 72); Clint Dempsey (Chris Wondolowski, 87)
Portugal: Beto; Joao Pereira, Ricardo Costa, Bruno Alves, Andre Almeida (William Carvalho, 46); Miguel Veloso, Joao Moutinho, Raul Meireles (Silvestre Varela, 69); Cristiano Ronaldo, Helder Postiga (Eder, 16), Nani
Man of the Match: Tim Howard
Referee: Nestor Pitana (Argentina)