There is just over 48 hours to go until the USA face their final Group G game vs. Germany in Recife.
You’e already nervous, aren’t you? Don’t worry, as am I. Let’s try and quell those prematch nerves by speculating who will start and what formation the U.S. will deploy against Joachim Low’s German powerhouse on Thursday. Yeah… that should do the trick.
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With the USA only needing a point in their final group match to punch a ticket out of the “group of death” and into the Round of 16, there’s a few different ways they could approach this. The main school of thought, especially if you listen to Jurgen Klinsmann’s comments, is that the U.S. will carry on with the status quo and play the same personnel and formation which has fared well vs. Ghana and Portugal. However, with Germany by far the strongest side they will face in group play and Klinsmann’s men only needing a draw, a more cautious lineup and approach may be followed.
Here’s a look at three different ways the USA could lineup vs. Germany on Thursday, with brief explanations as to why it could work. The midfield and attack have been tweaked in all three, with the USA’s defense staying the same after two solid showings so far.
Plan A: Stick with the tried and tested…
The simplest and most likely option, Klinsmann has already spoken about “going for the win” and sticking to his sides philosophy. Starting with the same lineup that drew with Portugal 2-2 in Manaus is the safe option, but is it the best option after his players suffered 90 minutes of draining play in the intense Amazonian humidity? It depends on if Jozy Altidore is fit and ready to come back into the lineup but more than likely he will be on the bench, at best, so the lineup will remain the same. (UPDATE: Altidore is officially out.)
Plan B: Ultra-defensive
After all, the Germans have scored six goals already during the World Cup and have the likes of Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and a whole host of other attacking talents at their disposal. Wowza. If the U.S. are feeling drained from their tireless opening two games, it may serve them well to sit back and soak up the pressure, then aim to strike Germany on the counter. After all, don’t forget, they only need a point to advance. A narrow 4-5-1 formation, with Seattle Sounders youngster DeAndre Yedlin coming into the lineup over Bedoya out wide could happen. Can the USA soak up German pressure for the entire 90 minutes though? It would be a big ask.
Plan C: All-out attack
Maybe Klinsmann just goes all out for the win which would see the U.S. avoid Belgium in the last 16 and instead have a much more favorable tie against our old friends Algeria or perhaps Russia or South Korea. If Altidore is back fit, maybe he comes into the lineup from the start, more likely is that Johannsson or Wondolowski come in to partner Clint Dempsey in attack with Zusi pushed higher. This would be a daring move against a stacked German side, but maybe one they aren’t expecting. A 4-3-3 formation close to the one we saw deployed at times during qualification and the Gold Cup a could work well, but it is also a huge risk.