Football: Germany v Germany clash centre-stage at World Cup Thursday
A conspiracy theorist's dream clash between Germany and the United States -- coached by German Jurgen Klinsmann -- takes centre stage in the last day of World Cup group matches on Thursday.
Klinsmann's side and that of his former assistant Joachim Loew battle for top place in Group G in Recife at 1600 GMT. At the same time, Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal will be playing Ghana in Brasilia with both countries harbouring hopes of reaching the second round, while keeping a close eye on Klinsmann and Loew.
Group H will also be decided with Belgium playing South Korea in Curitiba at 2000 GMT, needing just one point to make sure of top spot.
Unless the Koreans score an upset, Algeria need just a draw from their game against Russia in Sao Paulo at the same time to reach the last 16 for the first time.
A draw for Germany and the United States would suit both teams and it would guarantee both a place in the knock-out round.
That scenario, the Klinsmann-Loew friendship and Klinsmann facing the team he used to play for and coach, has evoked memories of a past scandal involving Germany.
At the 1982 World Cup in Spain, West Germany and neighbours Austria effectively stopped playing after reaching a 1-0 scoreline that ensured they would both progress from their group at Algeria's expense.
"That doesn't mean anything for my team," said Loew who has been repeatedly questioned about the "Shame of Gijon".
Both coaches insist they are going for a win to top the group.
"My family will be a little bit split but that is just part of it," said Klinsmann, who also has at least five German born players in his squad.. "At the end of the day it is a beautiful game of football and I hope everyone will enjoy it."
The final score will be analysed as closely as what could be Ronaldo's last appearance at this tournament. His lack of fitness is one reason for Portugal's disappointing World Cup, including a 4-0 thrashing by the Germans.
Portugal coach Paulo Bento insisted he would not resign if his side crash out of the tournament on Thursday. The Ghanaian government meanwhile airlifted more than $3 million in cash to Brazil to end protests over bonuses by the national players before the match.
- Red Devils at rest -
Group H looks simple in comparison.
Belgium coach Marc Wilmots is resting captain Vincent Kompany and defender Thomas Vermaelen because of minor injuries. But his supersubs have already been responsible for most of the goals that have secured wins against Algeria and Russia so far.
He vowed an "excellent" team would still start against South Korea, who were stung by their 4-2 thrashing by Algeria.
South Korea will go through if they beat Belgium by at least two goals and Russia overcome Algeria by a smaller margin in the simultaneous game.
"Even though it's our last game, we can hope. I don't think you can predict what will happen," Korean coach Hong Myong-Bo said.
Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic maybe keeping a close eye on the United States-Germany game as well as Belgium-Korea.
He hopes his side can ease the pain of the controversial exit from the 1982 World Cup caused by the Germany-Austria result.
A win against Russia would definitely see them through to the last 16 for the first time. The draw should be enough.
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