June 25, 2014
By Michael Lewis
BUSINESS AS USUAL
USA-Germany won't be a "friendly" for old friends Klinsmann, Low
Big Apple Soccer Editor
RECIFE, Brazil -- No World Cup game can be considered a friendly, not even when two old friends meet up.
|Thursday's Group G finale against Germany will pit US National Team coach against his old friend and former assistant Joachim Low.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
So when U.S. national coach Jurgen Klinsmann coaches against his former assistant Joachim Low, who guides the German national team, it will be all business at Arena Pernambuco in the Group G finale for both teams on Thursday.
At a Wednesday press conference, Low admitted that his relationship with Klinsmann was “an interesting topic” for the media.
“For me personally, this is a game against a national team, against any other national team. It’s a decisive game. Will we go forward to the next round or not? That has nothing to do with the coach.”
Much is at stake as both teams can punch their ticket to the Round of 16 with a tie and even a loss.
A draw or a victory over Germany (1-0-1, four points, plus-four goal differential) will propel the USA (1-0-1, four, plus-one) into the Round of 16. Even a loss, combined with a tie in the match between Ghana (0-1-1, one, minus-one) and Portugal (0-1-1, one, minu- four) in Brasilia, would be enough for the Americans.
"We are very capable of beating Germany," Klinsmann said. “Without being too overconfident, without being too positive, it's possible. This World Cup is full of surprises. We want to be one of those surprises."
What the 49-year-old Klinsmann plans for Low and vice versa won't be a surprise. They have known each other for a decade, forging a personal relationship beyond the pitch.
This time, though, opposites did not attract.
"We think alike," Klinsmann said. "We come from the same region in southern Germany."
Low, 54, called it "a perfect, trustworthy relationship."
They would meet for lunch or dinner and talk about "football, Germany, the United States," Low said.
They combined to guide Germany to a third-place finish as the host World Cup country in 2006. Klinsmann left after that accomplishment and Low took over the coaching reins. Now, they meet in a match that will determined their World Cup fates.
"Joachim’s doing his job the best way he can do, I do my job the best way I can do," Klinsmann said. "So we leave phone calls and text messages now and wait for a couple days and get the job done. Once the World Cup is over, hopefully in two weeks from now, we’ll be back on the phone and talk about it. It’s more than just a working relationship; it’s a very close friendship with a lot of admiration."
So before after the match they probably will shake each other's hand. Afterwards, they'll give each other a hug, regardless of the result.
"The friendship won't suffer," Low said. "People who know us know we're both ambitious. Many times we read in the media that (the teams) don't attack each other. When we go onto the pitch, we want to win. The relationship will continue regardless of the result tomorrow."
In fact, Klinsmann expects Low's German side to go a long way here in Brazil.
"He’s just an outstanding (coach)," he said. "He is outstanding and developed the team, a very, very confident high-paced football, wonderful style played, technique and given players many chances through the system. It’s just fun to watch. I’m looking at it from the outside and I’m proud of what he has done and the whole team has done. They’re a team capable of doing it.
"Germany plays kind of strong in a way that they are going to the final four and that they’re a strong team -- with some other ones -- and try to claim the title.