Porto Alegre – Underdogs Algeria have the chance to settle a 32-year-old World Cup score and create a major Brazil 2014 upset by knocking out Germany in Monday’s last 16 clash.
The sides meet at Porto Alegre’s Beira-Rio Stadium, but the 1982 World Cup in Spain remains a sore point in Algeria, three decades after “the shame of Gijon”.
Despite beating West Germany 2-1 in their group games, Algeria was eliminated after the Germans played out a mutually beneficial 1-0 win over Austria in Gijon.
Coach Joachim Loew has played down any talk of Algerian revenge being a factor in Porto Alegre.
“Why should players who weren’t even born then want revenge? I can’t understand that,” said Loew.
But his opposite number Vahid Halilhodzic has said the team have “not forgotten” and spoken at length about the 1982 factor since reaching the knock-out stages.
But Algeria midfielder Hassan Yebda says the north Africans are equally interested in claiming a major scalp.
“We are a little bit optimistic,” said the Udinese midfielder cautiously.
“Germany are the best team here, we need the perfect game and it would be a sensation if we can reach the quarter-finals.”
And Loew has warned his side against complacency or looking beyond Algeria to a possible quarter-final against France or Nigeria in Rio de Janeiro next Friday.
“Anyone who thinks that an easy opponent is waiting for us in the next round is making an enormous mistake,” said Loew after Germany finished as Group G winners.
This is the second match running where the Germans have had to deal with spectres from their past.
Their 1-0 victory over USA silenced any suggestions Loew had struck a pre-match deal with Stars and Stripes coach Jurgen Klinsmann to agree on a draw which would have guaranteed safe passage to the last 16.
More pressingly, Loew is under pressure to end the Germans 24-year wait for another World Cup title after Italy 1990.
Thomas Mueller’s second-half thunderbolt gave Germany a 1-0 win over the USA in their final group match, but Thursday’s victory in Recife came at a price.
Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski sits out the Algeria match after a scan on Saturday revealed he has a small tear in his thigh muscle.
“Lukas needs two or three days break, but should we progress it will be no problem for him to play again,” said Loew with Mario Goetze set to deputise on the left wing.
Loew insists his side are “on fire”, but Germany failed to dazzle in both their 2-2 draw with Ghana and win over the USA having hammered Portugal 4-0 in their opening game.
Mueller is their stand-out performer here and joint top-scorer at Brazil 2014 as his four goals matches those of Brazil’s Neymar and Argentina’s Lionel Messi.
Loew has hinted he will continue to rely on a Bayern Munich-based triumvirate with Bastian Schweinsteiger forcing his way back into the starting line-up at Sami Khedira’s expense.
Schweinsteiger partnered captain Philipp Lahm in the defensive midfield as the pair linking up with their Bayern team-mate Toni Kroos in the attacking midfield position. – Sapa-AFP