(CNN) -

This is a game with intriguing story lines: David against Goliath. Master against apprentice. Determination against precision.

This is a game the U.S. can't afford to lose.

This is a game that will be "massive."

"There's no other word to say (it)," said U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

At noon ET Thursday, the United States soccer team takes on the soccer behemoth Germany in the globe's biggest sporting spectacle, the World Cup.

Chances are, that for those 90-some minutes, your office will get little work done.

Your co-workers will huddle by the TVs in the break room. Your bosses will likely be away at long "lunches."

And you, who was perfectly content going through life blissfully unconcerned about soccer, will feel a little left out.

Well, fear not.

Here's a cheat sheet to make you an insta-pundit on this crucial showdown.

Why you should care

The eyes of the world are on the U.S.

America can't very well be the world's super power and be mediocre at soccer. This is its chance to go toe-to-toe with the second-best team in the business: the ruthlessly efficient Germany.

When the tournament began, the luck of the draw placed the U.S. team in the so-called "Group of Death."

The boys, led by Clint Dempsey aka "Captain America," survived Ghana, beating them 2-1.

Then, they almost slayed powerhouse Portugal. Almost -- but for a last-minute header that torpedoed their lead. That game ended in a 2-2 draw.

Now, the only thing standing between this group stage and a sweet spot in the next round is Die Mannschaft, German for "The Team."

''The United States is known to give everything they have in every single game," Klinsmann said. "We have that fighting spirit."

Why you should worry

Here's one reason: The two teams have met nine times; Germany's come out on top six of those times.

Here's another: In the last seven World Cups, Germany has always won its its third game. This is its third. Gulp!

Here's a third: Team USA's last game was in Manaus, a notoriously hot and muggy field in the Brazilian jungle. Every other team that played in that giant sauna lost their next matches.

Why you shouldn't worry

Because the same man who was responsible for transforming Germany into a lean, mean fighting machine is now the U.S. coach.

Klinsmann took the German national team all the way to the World Cup semifinals in 2006. More importantly, he changed the way the Germans played. He turned a defense-minded squad into hungry goal-seekers.

He's instilled those same traits on the U.S. team.

"We know how dangerous Team USA can be if we only play at 90% and not take them seriously," said German player Mesu Oezil.

Need more?

Germany may have peaked. The team decimated Portugal in its first game, but looked sluggish against Ghana. The U.S. was potent in its first match; even better in its second.

Need a third?

The last time the teams met -- in a "friendly" in June of last year -- USA beat Germany 4-3. A "friendly" match is a game arranged between teams outside tournament competition.

Who you should watch

Germany's Thomas Muller. He is one of only two players who've scored a hat trick in this tournament -- that's 3 goals in one game. (The other is Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri.) Hat tricks are rare -- and a true measure of a striker's prowess.

On the U.S. side, Clint Dempsey won't disappoint. He scored the sixth-fastest goal in World Cup history when he plowed one in 29 seconds into Team USA's opener with Ghana. He took a foot to the face, broke his nose -- and returned in the game against Portugal to score again.

Expect a comeback from Michael Bradley. He's been a disappointment so far. He kept losing the ball during the Ghana match. And even though he was much, much better in the second U.S. outing, it was he who lost the ball that led Portugal to tie the game.

He'll be looking to redeem his reputation as "Il Generale" (the General), a nickname Italian fans bestowed on him when he played for the club, Roma, for his ability to take charge and score goals.

Who won't be there

Reliable goal scorer Jozy Altidore, who strained his hamstring in the opener. He sat out the Portugal game and has to sit out this one too.

What should you ignore