FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — Germany's hard-fought 2-2 draw with Ghana has left Joachim Loew's team in the position it wanted to avoid at all cost: needing a good result in the final match of the group stage.
For on top of the inevitable pressure, that match happens to be against the United States, whose coach Jurgen Klinsmann and assistant coach Berti Vogts have both been in charge of Germany in the past.
Germany never thought that Saturday's match against Ghana would be easy, but it got a lot more than it ever bargained for. Ghana turned the match around in hot and humid Fortaleza to lead 2-1, before Miroslav Klose struck less than two minutes after coming on as a substitute to salvage the draw.
It was Klose's 15th career World Cup goal and it matched the record of 15 set by former Brazil great Ronaldo — who also notched his 15th also against Ghana at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. "But what's important now is that we play well against the Americans," Klose said.
Klose's goal could revive the debate over whether Loew should return to the system with one true striker, rather than stick with the 4-3-3, where attacking midfielders rotate positions to emerge into scoring positions.
Germany has a provisional lead at the top of Group G with four points from two matches. But the Americans could go top — and seal a place in the knockout rounds — with a win against Portugal on Sunday.
Ghana has one point and can also nurture hopes in the final match against Portugal, depending how other matches go. Germany and the United States play on Thursday in Recife. "The situation has not changed in a major way for us. We want to win the next match and remain on top," Loew said.
Midfielder Sami Khedira also thought Germany was still on track. "It's all in our own hands and that's what we must concentrate on over the next few days," he said. What could complicate Germany's situation is more injuries. Thomas Mueller, who failed to follow up his hat trick against Portugal with another goal but provided one assist, needed stiches for a cut above his eye after a late collision with Ghana's John Boye.
Defender Jerome Boateng did not come out for the second half with a left-hip injury and could be doubtful for the match against the Americans. His replacement, the inexperienced Shkodran Mustafi, didn't defend well when Ghana scored its first goal. Fellow defenders Per Mertesacker and Mats Hummels often struggled against the speedy, physical Ghanaians and miscued an offside trap before Ghana's second goal.
Another reshuffle is unlikely to make Germany's defense more solid. Loew is already using right-back Philipp Lahm as a defensive midfielder and four central defenders as his back four. And further down the road, Germany will have to figure out how not to make a mess of its second match in a tournament. Four years ago, it opened with a 4-0 win over Australia, and then lost 1-0 to Serbia. It needed to beat Ghana in the final match and it did, with a fortunate 1-0, before going on to reach the semifinals.