Germany will face off against African contenders, Algeria, tonight in the two sides’ first knock out match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The match kicks off at 22h00 (CAT) at Estadia Beira-Rio and looks to be yet another tense last-sixteen standoff.
Algeria will be looking to take a stand and make history by defeating the European giants, whom they have not beaten in an international match in no less than 32 years. If Algeria manage to perform this feat, they will progress to the quarterfinals for the first time in the team’s history.
The North Africans are currently ranked 22nd according to the latest FIFA rankings and before the current World Cup, were yet to progress from the group stages. They are one of two African countries to progress from the group stages, the other being Nigeria.
Germany, on the other hand, have won the competition three times, been runners-up four times, and finished third and fourth place four times and once, respectively. They are currently ranked second according to the latest FIFA world rankings.
The match at hand also has a slightly bitter undertone, with much of the media focus turning to the 1982 World Cup, where they exited at the hands of the Germans. West Germany at the time and Austria are alleged to have orchestrated a 1-0 result in their encounter, which orchestrated an outcome whereby both the European neighbours progressed from the group stages. This occurred even though Algeria downed West Germany 2-1 in their face-off. This resulted in an uproar from the Algerians, who proposed the idea that the two European sides were involved in match-fixing. These accusations, although serious, were never proven and thus the result stood.
The Algerian coach, Vahid Halilhodzic, stated that although many years have passed, the incident has not been forgotten. The German coach, Joachim Löw, however, was quick to play down the importance of the teams’ histories. “It’s not an issue for us. Maybe some on the other side want to make an issue out of it to motivate Algeria,” he said earlier this week. He is also a man speaking from a position of security, as his side punished Portugal in their encounter a fortnight ago, which ended 4-0 in Germany’s favour, and Löw has been assured that his job is secure, irrespective of his side’s final result in the tournament.
Algeria also faces the serious consideration of whether or not players should fast or not. Being a predominantly Muslim nation, the players all observe Ramadan, whereby you may not consume food or liquid from dawn until dusk on days which coincide with the religious practice. Halilhodzic, however, stated that it is at the players’ own discretion whether they will be adhering to this or not. The match kicks off just half an hour before sunset.