The United States head into their groups stage finale against Germany with many avenues to the Round of 16. A win against Germany would be the easiest but a draw and a loss, paired with certain scenarios, would also get them into the next round.
The United States might have one advantage, head coach Jürgen Klinsmann. As a former German star and head coach, Klinsmann knows the German team better than they know the Americans according to Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who is serving as Yahoo’s Global Football Ambassador.
“Obviously, Jürgen knows the German players much better than Joachim knows the American players. But at the same time, Joachim has on his hands more quality. The USA is doing so well as a team. They have some very fine players. But Joachim has on his hands much more quality than Jürgen. So, I would accept perfectly that in this game the German team is more active and the American team will be more reactive. My instinct as a coach is that the best Germany is when Schweinsteiger gives the stability that the team needs in midfield. And at the same time, I was always a huge fan of Philipp [Lahm] when he was playing right back and left back. Because I think defensively he is strong, but at the same time he creates so many unbalanced situations for the opponents when he plays the right side or even on the left side. So, I would like to see Philipp as a fullback and Schweinsteiger in the midfield, but it’s just a simple opinion and Joachim is better than any one of us and knows the reasons why he chooses the players.”
Since a draw would put both Germany and the United States into the Round of 16, and with Klinsmann’s connections to German soccer, there was some speculation that a draw could be arranged. Klinsmann said that would not happen because the Americans always finish, taking a shot at Mexico in the process because a late surge of goals in a meaningless game for the United States helped them get into the playoffs.
It would be against the spirit of competition for a draw to be arranged and Mourinho said he doesn’t see that happening.
“No. No. I don’t believe in that,” Mourinho said. “I just believe in play in a pragmatic way. In the case of Germany, I think it’s more than obvious that it’s not just to qualify, but it’s also to finish first. United States is a little bit different in my opinion. I think the second position would be a fantastic achievement, for them and probably States they have to play against Germany. Also, with an eye on the screen looking for the result of Portugal – Ghana. Because I think, maybe still the last moment. And maybe one goal can decide absolutely everything, but I think really that Germany knows that their the strongest team in the group. And, clearly, they know that by winning, seven points, top of the group. They don’t play against Belgium, which is the strong team in the other group and they will wait for the second team coming from the Belgium group.”
Jose Mourinho is an exclusive analyst for Yahoo’s worldwide football coverage and www.yahoo.co.uk/worldcup is the only place to read all his expert opinions during the FIFA World Cup 2014.