Sports

Will the US make a 'gentleman's agreement' with Germany?

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Credit: Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

USA national soccer team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann (C) speaks to his players ahead of their training session in Manaus.

Roger Bennett had a premonition about Luis Suarez' propensity to chomp on the opposition.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

Bennett is one half of the Men in Blazers, a podcast hosted by two Brits for Americans who love football and not the American kind.

Before the World Cup began in Brazil, Bennett and his Men in Blazers co-host Michael Davies, used 32 “world cupcakes,” each adorned with one of the World Cup competitor’s flags to guess how each team would do.

And let's just say he knew something was up when he took a bite out of Uruguay's cupcake.

“This one tastes like Luis Suarez' favorite dish, human flesh,” said Bennett.

Disturbing and possibly a little bit true.

As for Bennett's other prediction, over the airwaves during The World’s World Cup special, he declared that the US would win this World Cup.

You read right: WIN.

So before Thursday’s decisive match between the United States and Germany, we caught up with Bennett in Rio where he is apparently still rockin' his blazer despite the Brazilian heat.

“Even when the empire was declining, the English never took off their blazers,” said Bennett.

And although Bennett makes light of the heat, it was no laughing matter he said, when it came to the US match against Portugal this past Sunday in Manaus. Temperatures there rose into the mid 80’s and for the first time the players took a mandated water break. 

This upcoming game against Germany will take place in the humid northern city of Recife.

“The heat here is truly a factor and the big question is less how are the Germans going to attack them and it’s more can they physically rebound?” said Bennett.

Germany has had one extra day of rest between games. If the US team can beat or tie with Germany, which is ranked the second best team in the world, they will continue on to the next round.

Incidentally, the German national team was once coached by the US national team’s current coach, Jurgen Klinsmann.

“It’s a little bit like the Godfather,” said Bennett.

Conspiracy theories abound about match fixing and the possibility that Klinsmann will make a gentleman’s agreement with the current coach of the German national team, Joachim Loew. These theories are not without precedent according to Bennett.

In 1982 World Cup, Algeria had a great chance of going on to the next round but Algeria was foiled by a fixed match between West German and Austria who could both continue in the tournament if West Germany won the match with one goal. 

Sure enough the teams colluded, after West Germany scored, the game settled into game of lackadaisically kicking the ball about.

“If you look at [the game on] YouTube, you can see footballers just casually kicking the ball around midfield, neither side trying to score after the first goal had gone in, so there is a World Cup tradition,” said Bennett.

But there’s another side to the match-fixing conspiracy theories between the US and Germany, said Bennett, and that is Germany’s attitude toward its former coach Klinsmann.

“A lot of the Germans think he’s a Californian, an American, and not a good coach. And, there’s a feeling that a lot of these Germans would like nothing more than to take on Jurgen Klinsmann’s team and give them a bare bottom spanking before the rest of the world,” said Bennett.

Either way according to Bennett, Thursday’s game in Recife will a spectacle not to be missed.

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