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When and Where
4 PM ET, Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre, Brazil
How They Got Here
The Germans were the top seeded team in "the group of death," which included Portugal, Ghana and the United States of America. Germany started this World Cup as good as a team possibly could, as they soundly drummed Portugal 4-0. It helped that Pepe couldn't keep his composure and got red carded in the 37th minute. The second match for the Germans did not go as smoothly. Ghana gave them all they could handle in a 2-2 draw. They exposed some weaknesses in the German defense.
But whatever weaknesses were there, they were gone by their final match against the US. Perhaps the Americans had some tired legs after only having 3 days to recover from playing in the jungle at Manaus. The Germans had an extra day of rest and it looked like it showed. They did not give anything to the US for the entirety of the match. A Thomas Müller goal in the 55th minute gave Germany a 1-0 lead. That lead proved to be enough, giving the Germans the top spot in the group and a round of sixteen matchup against unlikely opponent Algeria.
If you remember the World Cup in 2010, the Algerians were front and center against the US. They were the team Landon Donovan scored his famed goal against to send the US through. Four years later, the Algerians found a way to advance past the group stage for the first time in their history. Algeria's first match was against Belgium, the presumed winner of the group. Algeria struck first on a penalty kick in the 25th minute and held the lead until the 70th minute. Belgium later scored the winner in the 80th. The 2-1 loss seemed to cause more ruffles as to the form of Belgium, as opposed to how well Algeria played. The Algerians didn't look afraid to take on a big team and it was a good omen for their next games.
Going into the World Cup, Algeria's weakness was scoring. They failed to score a goal in their 3 games in the 2010 appearance. Without any doubt, they went on to score 4 goals against South Korea en route to a 4-2 win. A scoreline that no one could see coming. Not for the fact that Algeria won, but for the simple fact that they won by scoring 4 goals. As they headed into their final matchup against Russia, all they needed was a draw to advance. They surrendered a 6th minute goal, but did not panic. They eventually evened the score in the 60th minute and held on for the draw. In their group stage, they showed the poise and confidence that great teams possess. If they can keep it together against Germany, they will prove to be a difficult opponent.
Thomas Müller, Germany
Forget about the girl on fire, Müller is the man on fire. With 4 goals, he is second in total goals behind the sensational James Rodriguez of Colombia. Müller has a knack for being in the right place, which is what goal-scorers do best. On a team stacked with talent, this 24 year-old stud is on his way to becoming a premier player and is in the running for a second consecutive Golden Boot. No player has ever won 2 Golden Boots, let alone consecutive ones.
Sofiane Feghouli, Algeria
Feghouli, at only 24, mans the midfield for Algeria and takes on much of the ball-handling responsibility. He is the type of player that Algeria wants to produce, as Feghouli has dual citizenship with France. He played for France on the U18 and U21 teams, but never played for their men's national team, thus allowing him to play for Algeria. By making it out of the group stage, Algeria will hope to land more players of his caliber, as the team is proving to be more competitive. For Feghouli, this World Cup is a great opportunity to get more recognition from some bigger club teams.
BONUS PLAYER: Islam Slimani, a forward who at 6'2" has the size, speed, and athleticism to give the Germans fits.
Germany wins 2-0
I have enjoyed watching Algeria play, which is odd considering how stubbornly they played against the US in 2010. This Algeria team reminds me of how Costa Rica plays. Both squads play hard-nosed, smart football. But most importantly, they play as a cohesive unit. Unfortunately, Costa Rica played Greece and Algeria is stuck playing Germany. At the end of the day, Germany just has too much talent, with the likes of Müller, Mesut Özil, and legend Miroslav Klose. Feghouli is a tough presence and Islam Slimani has two goals for Algeria this World Cup. They will be the two guys who presumably give the Germans the most trouble, but it will be tough to muster much against a dynamic German squad.
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