Ozil: Germany won't play for a draw
RECIFE, Brazil -- Germany need only a tie against the United States to advance to the second round when the two teams meet in their Group G finale on Thursday (Noon ET, ESPN/WatchESPN), but Die Nationalmannschaft midfielder Mesut Ozil says his side is going to beat the Americans at Arena Pernambuco.
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"As a player, we don't play for a draw," Ozil, of English club Arsenal, said Wednesday at Germany's pre-match news conference. "Our objective out on the pitch is to do the utmost to win, and that's what we're going to do against the United States. We want to [finish] first in the group, and that's why we're going to win."
Germany coach Joachim Low suggested that the key to beating the Americans could come down to matching their fitness.
"The starting point is that we have to be very well prepared in physical terms," Low said. "They have this aggressiveness that we saw in the two games [against Ghana and Portugal], they're very well-prepared, they're very fit, and they have an advantage that their league doesn't last 11 months."
The last point is particularly interesting.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has often said that Major League Soccer's shorter schedule, which runs from March to December, puts American-based players at a disadvantage compared to their counterparts who play for clubs in Europe, which typically operate between August and May.
However, Low said the fact that Klinsmann was able to work with many of his players -- nine of whom made the final 23-man roster for Brazil -- during a month-long training camp in January has helped the Yanks during the tournament.
"Jurgen already had his team ready in January, and they were working together since then," Low said. "That's why they are at an excellent physical level."
Still, Low -- Klinsmann's former assistant coach with the German team -- believes that his team will win.
"Our players know our opponents," he said. "We know exactly which are the weak points and the strong points of the [U.S.] squad but what's decisive is for us to take advantage of our opportunities and our qualities. If we can do this, we will win."