USA vs. Germany: 3 key matchups

A win for the U.S. puts them top of Group G, but a loss to Germany could send them out of the World Cup. Here's three key matchups to ponder prior to kickoff

SB Nation's 2014 World Cup Bracket'

The USMNT kicked off their World Cup campaign with a late winner against Ghana, only to have Portugal come back and grab an equalizer deep into stoppage time. That puts the U.S. on four points in Group G, meaning they need just a draw in today's game against Germany to make it to the knockout rounds.

But they've got to be wary, as a win from Ghana (or an overwhelming win from Portugal) could send them packing. On the flip side, a win for the U.S. puts them top of the group. So just what are the key matchups that might lead to a USA victory?

Geoff Cameron vs. Thomas Müller and Mario Götze

We can probably throw Mesut Özil into the mix as well. Germany's front three love to swap positions, embracing a fluidity that makes them extremely threatening going forward. Müller scored a hat-trick against Portugal's unstable back-line, while Götze provided the opener against Ghana.

Thoughts of Germany's potent attack must be keeping Cameron up at night - that is, if he's not reliving his nightmare of a time against Portugal. The defender's botched clearance provided Nani the opportunity to pounce, putting Portugal ahead after just five minutes. He also failed to track Silvestre Varela's run into the box, making it all the more easy for Portugal to find their late equalizer.

Germany may be vulnerable at the back, but they can be absolutely lethal up front. Cameron will need to be at the top of his game to ensure it's the U.S. that capitalizes on Germany's defensive mishaps, not the other way around.

The U.S. flanks vs. the Germany "fullbacks"

There's no denying that the U.S. wide play could very well be the key factor in dismantling the German side. The USMNT fullbacks, Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley, love to get forward, and their overlapping runs with Alejandro Bedoya and Graham Zusi create plenty of trouble out wide. Their ability to irritate the defense will only be enhanced by the fact that Germany isn't playing with natural fullbacks.

Benedikt Höwedes, Schalke's centerback, has been slotted into left-back, while Jerome Boateng, a central defender for Bayern Munich, plays at right-back. Boateng is more gifted out wide than is Höwedes, but should his thigh problem keep him out of the starting lineup, it's Sampdoria defender Shkodran Mustafi that steps in. Again, not as gifted out wide.

Should the U.S. make proper use of the skills they have out wide, catching out the opposing defenders, Germany could well find themselves in trouble. One decent cross for Clint Dempsey and the U.S. are in control.

Michael Bradley vs. himself

Other players may provide the flair, others may attract more attention, but the 26-year-old is meant to be the steady rock in the USMNT midfield. He's been anything but over the first two group matches.

Against Ghana, Bradley was mostly invisible - that is, when he wasn't giving away possession. He wasn't able to provide key passes or unlock defenses with slick through-balls. Many thought a shift back to 4-2-3-1, with Bradley playing in front of Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones, would help alleviate the problems. Yet he continued to struggle, and it was his giveaway in stoppage time that lead to Varela's equalizer for Portugal.

With no real alternatives available to Klinsmann, it's vital that Bradley shake off his disappointing performances to focus on this match. He'll likely need to turn his attention to helping out defensively: Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos will make the most of any opportunity to find space in midfield, while Müller will need to be shut down.

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