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Russia plan squad purge for World Cup

Russia
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By ESPN Staff

Thomas Muller: Stumble was planned

Germany forward Thomas Muller has claimed his stumble ahead of a free kick against Algeria on Monday was deliberate.

- Cambers: Quarterfinals betting guide

Some 88 minutes into Die Nationalmannschaft's 2-1 round-of-16 win, with the scores tied at 0-0, they were awarded a set piece just outside the box.

Five players huddled around as Bastian Schweinsteiger made a decoy run before Muller stumbled, got up and ran behind the wall, into which Toni Kroos chipped the ball.

"It nearly worked out. I don't know if we'll do it again, but I think it was a good alternative, and we did it intentionally," Muller told ZDF TV.

Ahead of the World Cup, Germany had thought up a number of new free kick options, which have yet to prove successful. In the group stage, several players grouped around, made their decoy runs, only for the ball to hit the opponent's wall.

After four games, Germany have yet to convert a direct free kick, although only two of the World Cup's 154 goals -- from 56 of the 64 games -- have come from such set pieces.

During Argentina's 3-2 victory against Nigeria, Lionel Messi struck from a free kick seconds before half-time, while Blerim Dzemaili pulled one back for Switzerland in their 5-2 loss to France.

Other nations have attempted to devise new free kick routines, most notably United States, who nearly equalised against Belgium on Tuesday in their 2-1 round-of-16 defeat with a set piece from just outside the penalty area.

Jermaine Jones feinted to shoot and Michael Bradley found Chris Wondolowski in the penalty area, who played in Clint Dempsey in front of the Belgium goal, however, the United States captain failed to convert.

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