The United States’ thrilling 2-2 draw with Portugal in Group G on Sunday has left Klinsmann’s side level on four points with Germany heading into their final game.
A draw in Thursday’s match in Recife would see Germany qualify as group winners with the United States finishing runners up – leaving Ghana and Portugal in limbo regardless of their result the same day.
That scenario has brought back memories of the notorious 1982 group match in Gijon, Spain, between West Germany and Austria.
Almost exactly 32 years ago to the day, both teams qualified at the expense of Algeria after a mutually beneficial 1-0 German victory in which both sides went through the motions.
Current German head coach Joachim Loew was Klinsmann’s assistant when Germany finished third at the 2006 World Cup and journalists questioned whether the old friends had struck a deal.
Germany’s assistant coach Hansi Flick and defender Mats Hummels strongly denied there would be any repeat of the 1982 fiasco after being repeatedly posed the question.
“I can only say a concrete ‘no’, we’ve already said we want to win the game and that’s how we’ll play over 90 minutes,” insisted Flick in Monday’s press conference.
And 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,” said the centre-back.
“We’re not playing for any result other than a victory.”
-‘That time is done’ –
Klinsmann echoed his compatriots by insisting there is no chance of similar skulduggery from 1982 — dubbed the ‘Disgrace of Gijon’ — tarnishing Thursday’s match.
“You’re talking about a game that is decades ago,” Klinsmann said.
“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.
“We have that fighting spirit, and we give everything in every game,” added Klinsmann.
“We will go to Recife and we will give everything to beat Germany. That is our goal.”
Klinsmann said even though he remains good friends with Loew, there would be no question of the two men reaching a gentleman’s agreement before kick-off.
“Jogi is doing his job. We are good friends, and I am doing my job. My job is to get everything done to get us into the round of 16, and that is what I’m going to do. There is no time now to have friendship calls. That time is done.
“Both teams go into this game and they want to win the group. So we go into this game and try to beat Germany. To put ourselves in the driver seat for the last-16, that is our goal.”
The Americans were denied a place in the second round on Sunday after Silvestre Varela equalised for Portugal just seconds from the final whistle in Manaus.