Porto Alegre (Brazil) – Underdogs Algeria have the chance to settle a 32-year-old World Cup score and create a major 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 were 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 as the Germans chase a first win against the north Africans at the third attempt.
“Most of the players weren’t even born then and something which took place over 30 years ago is not really a relevant subject,” said Loew on Sunday.
But his opposite number Vahid Halilhodzic said the team have “not forgotten” and spoken at length about the 1982 factor since reaching the knock-out stages.
“No one has forgotten what happened in 1982, the players will be motivated to get their revenge, but the Germans will also be going everything to get to the quarter-finals,” said Halilhodzic.
Algeria defender Rafik Halliche says the north Africans are equally interested in claiming a major scalp.
“That happened in 1982, now we’re in 2014, this is a chance to get into the quarter-finals, this will be a tough game, but we’re highly concentrated,” said the 27-year-old.
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.
“France is not in our heads, we have said anyone who underestimates a last 16 opponent is wrong,” insisted the 54-year-old.
“It is extremely important at this stage to take it a round by round and not look further ahead.”
– ‘Deliver or go home’ –
Germany captain Philipp Lahm echoed Loew’s sentiments.
“We’re in the knock-out phase — either you deliver or you go home,” said the 30-year-old.
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.
As well as naming Podolski’s replacement, Loew must also decide whether Sami Khedira or Bastian Schweinsteiger partners captain Philipp Lahm in the defensive midfield.
Loew insists his side are “on fire”, but Germany failed to dazzle in either their 2-2 draw with Ghana or win over the USA having hammered Portugal 4-0 in their opening match.
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.