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Battle for top spot

Friday, June 27, 2014

RECIFE, Brazil - Friends clash on either side of the World Cup divide today when Jurgen Klinsmann's United States meet Joachim Loew's Germany for top spot in Group G.

Having met on a coaching course, Loew became Klinsmann's assistant a decade ago when the pair were brought in following the Euro 2004 debacle as Germany finished the group stages winless.

Under their stewardship, Germany became known for fast-paced attacking football as talented youngsters such as Lukas Podolski and Bastian Schweinsteiger were given their chance.

The pair took Germany to third at the 2006 World Cup before Klinsmann stood down as coach to be replaced by Loew, who has since steered them to at least the semi-finals of the last three major tournaments.

Now they face off at Recife's Arena Pernambuco as rivals with both teams on four points.

A mutually beneficial draw would see Germany qualify as group winners with the United States runners up, knocking out Ghana and Portugal.

That scenario has brought back memories of a notorious 1982 group match in Spain, dubbed the 'Disgrace of Gijon', between West Germany and Austria. Both qualified at the expense of Algeria after a 1-0 German victory as the teams went through the motions, something both sides insist will not happen in Recife.

"That is only a part of Germany's history and not part of the United States' history. I think if you look at the past of the US team, we always try to make things happen," said Klinsmann.

Germany's centre back Mats Hummels said the Germans had no interest in anything other than a victory.

"It would be unsportsmanlike to do that and not fair, besides we want to win the game," he added.

"We're not playing for any result other than a victory."

Klinsmann insisted the United States will also go all out for victory but because he remains a Germany fan, he will sing both national anthems with gusto.

He has four Bundesliga players in his USA squad, while Jermaine Jones won three caps for Germany before switching allegiances in 2009.

Klinsmann's special adviser is Berti Vogts, who coached Germany at the 1996 European Championship when former striker "Klinsi" captained the side to the title.

"This game is something quite special for me, something like this comes along perhaps once in a lifetime," said Germany's former 1990 World Cup winner Klinsmann.

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