Juergen Klinsmann won a World Cup with Germany in 1990 and coached the country to the tournament semifinals 16 years later.
Now he’ll be out to beat his homeland after the U.S. team he now leads was drawn into a group headed by Germany for next summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
Klinsmann feared Friday’s draw would land the U.S. in a difficult group and those fears were realized when it was paired with not only Germany, one of the tournament favorites, but also with Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal and Ghana, the African nation that eliminated the U.S. in the last two World Cups.
The U.S. will open with Ghana on June 16 in Natal, then meet Portugal in Manaus on June 22. The Americans finish group play with Germany in Recife on June 26. The U.S. will have to travel more miles -- nearly 9,000 -- in group play than any other World Cup team.
“I kind of had in my stomach that we were going to get Germany,” Klinsmann said. “It couldn’t get any more difficult, any more challenging. But we will take it on. We’re going to be prepared. We’re going to be confident.”
But Klinsmann will be playing against more than just the German uniform. Joachim Loew, Germany’s coach, was once an assistant on a staff Klinsmann put together.
“Obviously there are lot of emotions involved,” Klinsmann said. “I know the players and therefore it’s going to be a special moment.”
Mexico, meanwhile, was drawn into Group A with tournament host Brazil. Mexico will open with Cameroon on June 13, then play Brazil in its second match in Fortaleza and finish group play with Croatia in Recife on June 23.
While the U.S. group is among the most challenging, another rugged foursome is in Group D, topped by Uruguay and including Costa Rica, England and Italy. Group B is also deep with defending champion Spain, the world’s top-ranked team, followed by Chile, 2010 runner-up Netherlands and Australia.
On paper, the easiest appears to be Group F with Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria.
A: Brazil, Croatia, Cameroon, Mexico
B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia
C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan
D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy
E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras
F: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria
G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA
H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea