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2014 World Cup, United States vs Germany: Preview

How can the US survive and advance to the knockout round?

Kevin C. Cox

The United States men's national team is looking to make some history on Thursday as they look to advance out of the group stage for the second straight World Cup. In their way is a Germany squad that his a chance to win Group G with a win or a draw in Recife.

Jurgen Klinsmann has already said there won't be a handshake agreement with his German counterparts. He wants to win this game, that much we know.

But how can the US win this game or at least get a draw and escape from this group? Here are some key elements to this game.

Breaking the Manaus curse

There were two games in Manuas before the US tied Portugal on Sunday. All four teams lost their very next game. The one thing the US does have in their favor is their fitness. Klinsmann has prided himself in how fit his squad is and will be for games and situations like this.

The bigger concern will be the fitness of the likes of Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman and DaMarcus Beasley, all 32, and Matt Besler, who again experienced tightness in his hamstring at the end of the game. Klinsmann said Besler was ready to go, though.

Defending all over, but mostly from the back

This German team has a little ax to grind with the US here. Their last loss was against this US team, a year ago. Sure it was a German C squad but still, they have pride in the same manner as we do about these sorts of things.

Against Ghana and Portugal, the US did well to bottle up the way that those two teams attacked, from the wings. But Germany is a different animal in how they attack the field. They love to drive it down your throats. After all, they do have six goals already in this tournament.

Germany does a great job of making sure their attackers break free and get those solo runs into the penalty box. This will mean Beckerman and possible Jones will need to come up bigger than they have in this tournament in this game. But it will also mean that the center back duo of Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler (should Klinsmann stick with those two), not have any bad whiffs or moments where they lose their man.

Attack the wings

One good thing that the US does have going for them in the attack is their pace. Ghana really took it to the Germans in the second half with their pace last weekend and the US can do the same thing on the wings with the likes of Aljeandro Bedoya, DeAndre Yedlin (from the bench, of course), Fabian Johnson, Beasley and Graham Zusi.

I wouldn't mind seeing someone like Brad Davis get in this game to add some variety on the left wing. But that is just a thought.

The US can't rely the runs of Johnson from the back either. This German squad is all too familiar with what he brings to the table, seeing as how six starters played with him on Germany's 2009 U-21 European championship team.

The US attacked the fewest of almost all 32 countries in this tournament from the wings in their first two games. Opening up the space out wide will cause pressure on the German back line that looked vulnerable against Ghana.

Cut down on mental errors

One bad whiff on the ball from Cameron. One bad touch from Michael Bradley. That is the difference that we've all beat up on since Sunday but it is worth point out yet again that the US cannot afford to give up any costly mental errors in this game. Germany is too good of a squad and will make the US pay for it.