Wednesday's international friendly football match between the United States and Germany in Dortmund is expected to be a key game for both sides as they prepare for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
It is the final match for Germany before coach Juergen Klinsmann selects his 23-man World Cup squad on May 15. Klinsmann has been roundly criticized for jetting back and forth between Germany and his home in California, and the pressure increased when Italy thrashed the Germans 4-1 in the team's last outing.
Germany captain Michael Ballack says the game against the Americans is as important as a tournament match, and will be decisive for the mood and confidence of the team.
The U.S. team will be missing several of its European-based players, including star Llandon Donovan. Germany knocked the United States out of the 2002 World Cup with a 1-0 win in the quarterfinals. Though Germany has dropped to number-22 in the rankings, it is undefeated in Dortmund with a record of 11 wins and one draw.
Team USA has climbed to fifth in the world rankings and is undefeated in its last seven games. The United States is grouped with Italy, Ghana and the Czech Republic at the World Cup finals this June.Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.