One team comes into this Round of 16 matchup hoping to make an eighth straight quarterfinals. The other is making its first Knockout-Round appearance ever. After winning the Group of Death, Germany are the heavy favorites over Algeria. But the North African side has been dangerous in this tournament, as evidenced by their four-goal outburst against South Korea.
GERMAN DOMINATION: Many have called Germany’s team this year “a machine,” and they sure have lived up to it. They spanked Portugal 4-0 in their opening game and dominated the US despite the 1-0 scoreline. They showed a couple warts against Ghana but a Philipp Lahm giveaway in the center of midfield is unlikely to happen again. Some have questioned Joachim Low’s use of four centerbacks but his side conceded only two goals in three games. They are rolling into this round of 16 matchup.
FORMIDABLE FOXES: After not scoring a goal at the 2010 World Cup, most experts were not expecting much of Algeria coming into this tournament. Those people were wrong. Vahid Halihodzic’s team used set pieces and Route One soccer to put up six goals in the group stage. They will face a more organized German side in this game but don’t let that fool you into thinking they can’t score multiple goals again.
MAGNIFICENT MULLER: Three players have put up four goals in this tournament so far and two of them have received most of the headlines, Lionel Messi and Neymar. The third player just so happens to have won the Best Young Player Award at the 2010 World Cup, the last two Bundesliga titles, and a Champions League title. Thomas Muller’s movement, conditioning, and finishing ability have been unmatched in this tournament so far. The Fennec Foxes will need to keep multiple players tuned into his whereabouts at all times.
24-year-old Thomas Müller is the 4th-youngest player with 9 career WC goals, youngest since Gerd Müller in 1970.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) June 26, 2014
JUST HAPPY TO BE HERE? The Algerians celebrated their passing into the Round of 16 like they had won the whole thing. Players danced, everyone hugged, and even their head coach cried. Some might take this to mean that they have already reached their goal and may not have the drive to challenge the Germans. But that was then. This is now game time. At this point, the Algerians have enough World Cup experience and European-based players to get for the match.
RAMADAN BEGINS: The Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins on Sunday, presenting one of the most culturally interesting storylines of the tournament. Algeria's Muslim players will have to decide whether to fast during the day, as religiously required, or to make use of a possible exemption. With the game kicking off at 5 pm local time, nearly 10 hours after sunrise, the Algerian players could lack the energy to compete for 90 minutes. However, FIFA have made studies about Ramadan fasting's effect on the players and say "there will be no reduction in the phyical performances of players."
THE STAR YOU KNOW
- Philipp Lahm, midfielder, Germany – The diminutive star has adjusted to life quite well in the midfield after playing it for Bayern Munich in 2013-14. His vision and passing ability has kept the German attack dangerous at all times.
THE PLAYER WHO WILL SURPRISE YOU
- Islam Slimani, forward, Algeria – The 26-year-old has been a terror on set pieces so far in the World Cup and will try to keep that going against a German side that usually defends those situations with ease.