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Wednesday, 19 June, 2002, 22:53 GMT 23:53 UK

Germany and US renew rivalry

Germany v USA | Quarter-final
Fri 21 Jun | 1230 BST | Ulsan
Live on BBC Radio Five Live

By Sean Wheelock
BBC Sport Online

After beating their main footballing foe Mexico in the last 16, it now seems only fitting that the USA are matched against their chief European rival Germany in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

In the past 10 years, the US have faced Germany more than any other nation outside of Concacaf and South America, including an opening round match at France 98.

And added to the bond between the two nations is the fact that German clubs, from the Bundesliga down to the third division, are the leading importers of American footballers.

The trend began in the late 1980s, when Germany was the first nation to seek American players.

Former US internationals such as Chris Henderson, Brian Bliss, Paul Caligiuri and Eric Wynalda led the list of those Americans given their first professional footballing opportunity abroad.

This link has never been more evident than with America's 2002 World Cup squad, which includes nine players with German club experience.

US defenders Tony Sanneh, Frankie Hejduk and Steve Cherundolo spent last season in Germany, and are all expected to return.

They arel likely to be joined next season by 20-year-old midfielder Landon Donovan, who is currently on loan to Major League Soccer first division side San Jose Earthquakes from Bayer Leverkusen.

But after his two-goal performance in the finals thus far, he is likely to be summoned back.

The number of US internationals in German football could even swell to five next term as striker Clint Mathis has been linked to Bayern Munich.

In the other direction, former German captain Lothar Matthaeus spent his final campaign as a professional with the New York-based MetroStars.

High stakes

When Germany and the United States met at France 98, the three-time world champions looked dominant in a convincing 2-0 victory.

But a year later, America stunned Germany with wins of 3-0 and 2-0; results at the time hailed as among the greatest in US football history.

Although Germany attached little importance to the matches, the young and largely re-vamped US squad was greatly buoyed by the performances.

Three years later, that American side has grown-up into the one that now awaits Germany on Friday.

The two sides met earlier this year in a pre-World Cup friendly which Germany won 4-2.

Like Mexico, Germany are a known opponent to the US.

There will be no surprises for either squad; there is simply too much familiarity from both at club and international level.

However, unlike Mexico, Germany are not a bitter rival, only a competitive and respected one.

But they are a side that the US feel can be beaten - as they have been in two of the last four meetings.

Revenge for America's loss at the World Cup four years ago is a nice theme, but it is not a prevalent one.

Instead the US only want to prove this time that they are as good as any squad in the world.

With the rivalry renewed, the stakes have never been greater.


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