World Cup: History suggests both USMNT and Germany will advance on Thursday
And so the question arises: Since the result would prove mutually beneficial to both teams, will they play the game with the intention of drawing? Especially with two good friends managing each of the squads?
US boss Jurgen Klinsmann has made it clear that the US will not settle for a tie, and Germany head coach Joachim Low is under pressure to see his side register a convincing performance.
But Klinsmann and Low are in a relative unique position. Since 1998, the first tournament when only the top two teams qualified from each group, only twice have two teams entered their final match with a draw benefitting both sides. Here's how those games unfolded:
Uruguay beat El Tri on a 43rd-minute goal from Luis Suarez, but both teams still advanced. That's because South Africa defeated France 2-1 in the other match and were unable to close the sizeable gap in goal differential (-5).
2010: Brazil vs. Portugal – Here, too, both squads entered the game on four points and the game finished 0-0, guaranteeing both nations' passage to the Round of 16. But there wasn't much of a realistic threat entering the match. The only other contender in the group, Ivory Coast, faced a goal differential of -9 and could only muster a 3-0 victory over lowly North Korea.
The most infamous instance of alleged World Cup collusion came in the 1982 World Cup, when a 1-0 win by West Germany over Austria allowed both teams to advance ahead of Algeria, which had concluded group play the day before. Nowadays the final matches in a group kick off at the same time.
The European Championship in 2004 also produced allegations of collusion, as Sweden and Denmark played to a 2-2 draw that allowed both to advance ahead of Italy on goal differential. Both Scandinavian countries vehemently denied any intent.
And if you believe Klinsmann, there will be no such accusations being levelled in Recife on Thursday.