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World Cup

Opinion: Second 'disgrace of Gijon' averted

The German side hardly covered itself in glory against the US, but ducked some uncomfortable post-match discussions thanks to Thomas Müller. Yet another slice of luck for Germany, writes DW's Andreas Sten-Ziemons.

How might the match between Germany and the US have looked if the score had stayed 0-0 until the 80th or 85th minute? It scarcely bears thinking about. Would either side have really sought to push forward in that situation? Would they have played for the win, despite the potential price of defeat? Or, would a festival of square passes and pseudo-football have become the showcase?

That was the case, notoriously, at the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Ten minutes into West Germany's last group game, against Austria, Germany led 1-0: the teams knew that this scoreline would send them both through to the next round. What followed was dubbed the "disgrace of Gijon," or more commonly in Germany, " the non-aggression pact of Gijon." The two teams knocked the ball sideways and often even back to their goalkeepers for 80 tortuous minutes; still a black mark on Germany's bright football history.

Thomas Müller's goal against the US consigns all the conspiracy theories to the bin. Thank goodness! With his fourth goal in Brazil and his ninth from just two career World Cups, Müller provided Germany with a victory, a last-16 berth and the top spot in Group G. As a bonus on top, this scoreline was still enough for the US to proceed thanks to the result in the other match between Portugal and Ghana. This might explain the relatively muted showing from Jürgen Klinsmann's team, too.

What's certain is that Joachim Löw's lads now urgently need to find another gear for the knockout phases and deliver considerably better performances than those against the US and Ghana. Granted, the Germans were dominant and could play the ball between their ranks without bother from beginning to end, but again the back-line did not always look on the same page, especially when attacked with pace. Although Germany's performance against Ghana was poor, the game was at least entertaining. The match against the US will not be remembered as a second "disgrace of Gijon," but it was sufficiently dull that it may not be remembered at all.

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