Conspiracy theory surrounding Loew and Klinsmann
Klinsmann and Loew are 'friends with no benefits'
US v GERMANY
(Tonight, 11.59pm, SingTel mio TV Ch 141 & StarHub TV Ch 223)
Juergen Klinsmann gets irritated at the suggestion. Joachim Loew finds the question impertinent.
Both men consider the possibility beneath their sporting psyche.
Friendship never comes first on a football field. They will not throw the match for mutual gain.
This is their final game of the World Cup group stages, not a German remake of Friends With Benefits.
Still, the temptation to conjure a conspiracy theory based on simple math and matching passports is irresistible.
When the United States meet Germany in Recife tonight (Singapore time), the teams share the same number of points and their managers share the same back story.
They met in a coaching class in Germany. Klinsmann had the charisma and the football pedigree; Loew brought the tactical calculations and coaching philosophy.
Together, they revolutionised German football, instilling youthful ingenuity without ever diluting that Teutonic tenacity.
But then they grew apart, neither man quite scaled the same heights. Like Lennon and McCartney, they were always on song as a partnership but the solo careers suffer in comparison.
Now they stand in each other's way.
To prove they can excel without the other, they must eliminate the other. Only they don't need to, not quite.
Loew's Germany and Klinsmann's United States are both on four points in Group G. A victory guarantees validation, particularly for Klinsmann, but a draw also ensures a degree of deliverance. Like in the old days, they can succeed together.
But the hint of compromise offends the sensibilities of both Germans. The "Disgrace of Gijon" is a grubby stain on a proud nation's sporting soul.
When the West Germans went a goal ahead against Austria in the 1982 World Cup, the result was enough to send both sides through. So they knocked the ball around among their defenders; every selfish, cynical, cowardly pass a stake through the heart of the purist.
At the time, Loew and Klinsmann were budding professionals taking the first fledgling steps in domestic football. They had to play through the shame.
They're not about to coach through it.
Still, their players may be more circumspect.
The US paid the price for attempting to play safe against Portugal. Dithering rather than decisive in central midfield, they were caught in possession in the 95th minute, allowing Cristiano Ronaldo to temporarily stop the Portuguese ship from sinking.
Germany, too, were almost penalised for their complacency against Ghana, relying on goal-scoring warhorse Miroslav Klose to salvage a point.
Besides, sitting back is counterproductive for both sides programmed to patrol on the counter-attack.
American Fabian Johnson has already staked his claim for the most electrifying performance of the tournament at fullback, his silky, slaloming runs against Portugal suggesting he'd swapped boots for skis.
But Johnson was no lone ranger in the US side. Jermaine Jones' father was an African-American soldier stationed in West Germany.
He was raised in Germany by his mother and benefited from a Bundesliga football education.
He understands the German psyche. He's a product of it. Eintracht Frankfurt groomed him. As he demonstrated in central midfield against Portugal, he doesn't quit. Like his manager, he's got something to prove against his former homeland.
Up front, Clint Dempsey's form has been revelatory for the Americans. Despite a sore nose and a black eye, his displays have been one in the eye for Fulham.
In Brazil, he resembles the Dempsey from the first Fulham stint, not the dazed, distracted Dempsey who returned to the relegation-threatened side and contributed little.
If conspiracy theorists still insist on a draw, then a high-scoring one is more plausible.
The Germans are at full strength, with Thomas Mueller recovered from the bloody whack he suffered in the Ghana match. Goals flow through Loew's side with Mueller, Mario Goetze and the irrepressible Klose all on target.
Klose needs one more to overtake Brazilian striker Ronaldo to stand alone at the summit with 16 World Cup goals. He's not playing for a draw. He's playing for history.
Draws are a risky business, one suited to neither the United States nor Germany.
Friendships will survive the World Cup, but careers may not. Another premature exit at a major tournament would be one too many for Loew.
Beating Klinsmann to avoid Belgium in the Round of 16 is not a personal dilemma, but part of the job description.
If Loew falls to his old friend in Recife, he'll suddenly find he doesn't have many others left in Germany.
“This game is something quite special for me, something like this comes along perhaps once in a lifetime.”
— Juergen Klinsmann
Mueller dismisses notion of conspiracy against US
Thomas Mueller wasn't born until seven years after West Germany's "Disgrace of Gijon" at the 1982 World Cup and he made it clear on Tuesday that the infamous "non-aggression pact" match against Austria is ancient history for him.
"How do you pronounce that word, Chi-con?, Gich-on? Gigon?" the 24-year-old midfielder said with an impish grin when asked about the match in the Spanish city of Gijon where West Germany and Austria appeared to collude for a result that helped both advance.
"I know what that's all about from reading the newspapers," Mueller said with a smile and shrug that suggested it would be completely alien for him and his teammates to even consider the idea of playing for a convenient result again.
It is a hot topic at the moment at the World Cup because Germany and the United States, coached by German Juergen Klinsmann, are playing each other tonight and would both advance if their match ends in a draw.
"But anyone who knows me, especially after the Ghana match, and looks at me can see that there is no way on earth we'd play for a draw," added Mueller, who scored three goals in Germany's 4-0 opening win against Portugal and has 21 goals with 50 caps.
"I hope that the case is closed now."
Mueller, who has scored eight World Cup goals for Germany in eight appearances, said his aim is to win the tournament and that he is not especially interested in winning the Golden Boot for most goals scored - which he took in 2010 with five goals.
"It's not my goal to win be the tournament's top goal-scorer - I want to win the World Cup," said Mueller, before adding with a smile: "I won the Golden Boot four years ago, so what would I do with a second one."
Mueller was also the 2010 Young Player of the Tournament.
He has three goals in two matches in Brazil for Germany and trails Brazilian Neymar, who has four goals in three matches.
"There's a far more important title that I don't have yet. If I get a goal or two on the way there (to winning the World Cup), I'm sure that's good for the team. But I'm totally relaxed about that. The important thing is that we keep advancing."
Mueller said he was feeling fine after getting five stitches on Saturday to close a gaping wound above his right eyebrow suffered at the end of the Ghana match.
"It actually wasn't so bad," he said. "It's more a question now about how I'll look. I know it looked pretty bad because there was so much blood and it was everywhere." - Reuters.
“... there is no way on earth we’d play for a draw.”
— Thomas Mueller