Algeria (1-1-1) vs. Germany (2-0-1) 4 p.m. (ET)
06/30/2014 8:17 AM
06/30/2014 8:17 AM
Porto Alegre, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - Germany's venture into the knockout round begins on Monday when the European nation squares off with Algeria at the Estadio Beira-Rio.
The Germans unsurprisingly finished atop Group G by getting a 1-0 win over the United States in the group finale.
It was a comfortable performance in the end as Germany controlled much of the possession, but it was a moment of brilliance from Thomas Muller that separated the two sides. The Bayern Munich man took a clearance following a corner kick and guided a sublime finish just inside Tim Howard's far post, netting his fourth goal of the tournament.
"We started strongly and showed who was boss straight away," Muller said after the match. "Four goals in three games? It feels good because it means you can rely on your own ability. I'm enjoying it a lot. I hope I can contribute to us going as far as possible and maybe even going all the way."
Germany coach Joachim Low made a few changes to the squad ahead of the country's meeting with the United States, a generous luxury for a nation blessed with a deep, deep roster.
"We were well organized today and dominated the match," Low said. "We didn't let USA have a chance on our goal right up to the final whistle. We were strong in midfield and that's where we put them under pressure. Bastian Schweinsteiger was excellent until he ran out of steam. It was a good opportunity to give Sami Khedira a rest. Even during our preparations Thomas Muller was in great shape both physically and mentally. He's a very intelligent player and it's very difficult to defend against him. He makes everything look so easy and he's very valuable for us.
"Now we're in the round of 16 and it's a different kind of situation. It's all or nothing and that brings with it a completely different dynamic and a different kind of tension."
Germany's only blip in the group stage came in its second match when it only managed a point from a 2-2 draw with Ghana. It was a performance that may have exposed Germany's weakness: a slow back-four that can be exploited by speed.
That suits Algeria, a team that closely resembles Ghana.
The Desert Foxes advanced to the knockout round on the back of some impressive performances in Group F that helped secure the runner-up spot behind Belgium.
Algeria opened group play with a loss to Belgium, but the African nation responded by getting a 4-2 win over South Korea and a 1-1 draw against Russia.
It marked the first time that Algeria had emerged from the group stage in a World Cup, and striker Islam Slimani is keen to remain in the tournament.
"We came to Brazil aiming to get through the group phase," Slimani told FIFA.com. "Now that we've done it we can be proud, but we shouldn't be happy to stop here. You always want more and we're hoping to keep this dream going. I don't want anybody to wake me up yet."