Unless they are blown out by the U.S., or The Black Stars beat a dejected Portugal side by several goals, Germany will advance to the knockout stage. To some extent, they control their own destiny in Thursday's match versus the Americans. And when you are as good as the Nationalmannschaft, you can afford to think about the clearest path to the final. This may be a factor in the match outcome -- a case where a loss may ultimately be a win.
Would Germany prefer a path that offers a winnable quarterfinal match, but meets up with Brazil in the semifinals? Or would they prefer to join the apparently weaker side of the knockout round draw and a chance to face Brazil in the final, or even hope the Canarinho stumble before the final? Maybe. Yet even on this "weaker" side of the draw the Germans would have several obstacles: a Belgian side that so far has underwhelmed, but could be due for at least one giant-killing effort, an Argentina side that looks unstoppable; and the feisty Clockwork Orange.
Would the Germans give their former football hero and World Cup winner -- now the manager of the opposing side -- a gift victory? Plausible? Yes. But not likely.
While a draw is as good as a win, Team USA may have some extra motivation to win Thursday's match and have perhaps the easier path (Algeria, France/Nigeria) to the semi-finals -- and would mark this World Cup a huge success for the Americans. Maybe the Germans want this path to the semis, too.
I'm counting on the Germans not wanting to be the first European team to lose to Team USA, their pride in playing the game to win and to maintain momentum for the knockout round -- even if it means facing Brazil before the final.
I predict that after a first half set piece goal by the U.S., Germany notches an equalizer just after the break, and both teams kick the ball around for the last thirty minutes to advance to the knockout stage: Germany to face Algeria; the U.S. to face Belgium.