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Ives Galarcep

Klinsmann lauds chance for USA to put Portugal in its place

Tags: Sony Handycam ®, USA

451006772MANAUS, Brazil — Jurgen Klinsmann has won a World Cup as a player, among other major honors, and is a superstar in his native Germany. But when a reporter pointed out that he is probably less popular in the United States than Cristiano Ronaldo, he simply smiled and said it was probably true.

Klinsmann then pointed to the fact that Ronaldo’s status is motivation for the U.S. national team to want to beat the Portuguese national team on Sunday.

“There’s a lot of admiration for Cristiano and for the players that play overseas and that play in big clubs,” Klinsmann said. “They play Champions League and all that stuff, but this is now the moment that you can prove yourself. This is the moment where you can step up and play those guys and put them in place, so we want to put Cristiano and his team in place. 

“We want to get out there with all the energy that we have, all of the discipline that we’re going to bring, all of the aggressiveness, we’re going to play and make it our game and we are ready for that.”

The difference in mood between Klinsmann and Portugal manager Paulo Bento was palpable, with Bento looking tense and providing some pointed responses to questions about the position his team finds itself in. Fresh off a 4-0 beating by Germany, and facing the prospect of being without as many as five starters due to injuries and suspension, Bento snapped at questions about his team’s preparations, and stopped folks asking him what it would mean if Portugal lost by reminding them that the game still had to be played, and a win could change a lot.

Listening to Bento, you definitely got the sense that Portugal plans to come out firing, looking to set the tone with a high-powered attack that will only be missing target striker Hugo Almeida. 

The defense is another story. You can now add central defender Bruno Alves to the list of walking wounded for Portugal. He joins Fabio Coentrao (out), goalkeeper Rui Patricio (questionable) and suspended central defender Pepe on the list of Portuguese players who will or could miss Sunday’s showdown.

The weather in Manaus has been as hot as expected, with temperatures in the mid-80s on Satuday. The humidity is as stifling as advertised, and with thunderstorms expected for Sunday, players in the USA-Portygal match could find themselves in sauna-like conditions.

That could work to the U.S. team’s advantage, having experienced similar conditions during World Cup qualifying.

“I think we were very well prepared for this type of climate here,” Klinsmann said. “We have similar climates to play in in CONCACAF with Central America or even if you go to Florida and you play in Miami, it’s very similar to what you experience here.”

After Ghana shook up Group G by tying Germany on Saturday, the Americans head into Sunday’s match-up with a very clear goal. Win and they will be in the round of 16. Lose or tie and things get extremely dicey heading into their Group G finale against Germany on Thursday in Recife.

“It’s just another motivating factor if it gets us through the group,” U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “If we already didn’t want to win or feel like we needed to win, that gives us everything we need and more. We’re going to go into the game and fight tooth and nail, but that’s a good result for us to know that if we win, we take care of business and the rest is history. It’s exciting.”

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