World Cup Previews – Group G

Germany, Portugal, Ghana, United States

Jurgen-Klinsmann

The Perception

A group which rivals Group D for the title of Group of Death. All four countries have links one way or another, including USA manager Jurgen Klinsmann facing his native Germany and the Boateng brothers (Jerome and Kevin-Prince) will play each other when the Germans meet Ghana.

Fixtures

16 June 2014

Germany v Portugal, Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, 17:00 (ITV)

16 June 2014

Ghana v United States, Arena das Dunas, Natal, 23:00 (BBC)

21 June 2014

Germany v Ghana, Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza, 20:00 (BBC)

22 June 2014

United States v Portugal, Arena Amazonia, Manaus, 23:00 (BBC)

26 June 2014

United States v Germany, Arena Pernambuco, Recife, 17:00 (BBC)

26 June 2014

Portugal v Ghana, Estadio Nacional, Brasilia, 17:00 (BBC)

Germany

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  • World Ranking: 2 (correct to 6 June)
  • World Cup best: Winners (1954, 1974, 1990)
  • World Cups played in (including 2014): 17 (first in 1934)
  • Manager: Joachim Low
  • Captain: Philipp Lahm

Star Man – Philipp Lahm

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Captain Philipp Lahm was described by Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola this season as “the most intelligent player I’ve ever coached”. The best right-back in Europe over the last decade has made a seamless transition this season under the Bayern boss into the defensive position in midfield and may well do the same for Germany. The 30 year old was included in the team of the tournament at the last 2 World Cups, but will want to be lifting the ultimate prize on July 13.

One to Watch – Marco Reus

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Germany’s ‘Rolls Reus’ has been firing on all cylinders this season. Only Real Madrid’s Angel di Maria made more assists in Europe’s top five leagues this campaign than Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus . The left-sided forward carries a real goal threat and scored 23 times in all competitions this season. He has been linked with a move to Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United, with a talks to reportedly begin after the tournament. In qualifying for Germany, the 25 year old scored an impressive five times and assisted three more in just six games.

How they qualified

Germany breezed through their qualifying group, only dropping points in a bizarre 4-4 draw with Sweden – having led 4-0. They scored 36 times in 10 matches, with seven of their attacking players totalling three goals or more.

Prediction – Semi-finals (Losers of Third Place play-off)

After getting knocked out at the semi-finals in the last two tournaments, the Germans want to get one better in Brazil, and you can’t rule them out of the running. They should win a tricky group before not being seriously challenged again in the last four, which once again I think will be the end of the road for them. However unlike the previous two tournaments, I expect Joachim Low’s side to lose the third place play-off.

Portugal

Portugal-Team-Squad-for-2014-World-Cup

  • World Ranking: 3 (correct to 6 June)
  • World Cup best: Third (1966)
  • World Cups played in (including 2014): 6 (first in 1966)
  • Manager: Paulo Bento
  • Captain: Cristiano Ronaldo

Star Man – Cristiano Ronaldo

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Who else but CR7? Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo scored 51 goals in 47 club appearances this season and already has a museum dedicated to him. Debate rages about who is better out of him and Lionel Messi, but in Portugal they now argue over who wins out of Ronaldo and Eusebio. Not only does he captain Paulo Bento’s side, but he is now the record top scorer for his nation with 49 strikes coming into Brazil. However, carrying injuries into this tournament won’t help his bid to right the wrongs of two disappointing World Cups for him in 2006 and 2010. Because of this, there is pressure on the 29 year old to impress. He will either do so, or flop once more.

One to Watch – William Carvalho

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Sporting Lisbon are famous for their prolific youth academy, but William Carvalho is proof that they’re branching out from star wingers after Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Figo & Co. The 21-year-old is an imposing defensive midfielder, and has made a huge impact in the Portuguese capital after returning from an extended loan spell at Cercle Brugge. Manchester United have been scouting the 22 year old to the point of stalking, and his pedigree is such that the mooted fee in any transaction (somewhere north of £30 million) seems like common sense rather than a fanciful demand by Sporting. A good World Cup will no doubt see more interest arrive.

How they qualified

They progressed via the play-offs for the second successive World Cup, with Ronaldo’s hat-trick against Sweden equalling Pauleta’s national record 47-goal tally, which he has since broken. They only lost to Russia in their group but finished second after drawing with Northern Ireland and Israel, twice.

Prediction – Quarter-finals

It really all depends on the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo. With the Real Madrid man looking set to miss the first game against Germany, Portugal will miss their chance to claim top spot in the group. They should just scrape second, and go up a gear to win their round of 16 match. Knocked out in the quarter-finals though.

Ghana

ghana

  • World Ranking: 38 (correct to 6 June)
  • World Cup best: Quarter-finals (2010)
  • World Cups played in (including 2014): 3 (first in 2006)
  • Manager: Akwasi Appiah
  • Captain: Asamoah Gyan

Star Man – Kevin-Prince Boateng

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Kevin-Prince Boateng is a funny old player. Atrocious at Tottenham, the midfielder has since gone on to impress for AC Milan and Schalke 04 and earned a reputation as a confident player full of tricks. The 27 year old temporarily retired from international football, and only came back into the squad last October, but could play a huge part for Ghana in Brazil. Boateng’s swift footwork and eye for a goal means he always looks dangerous and could hit the back of the net when you least expect him to. He will also be looking forward to the second game against Germany – where he could face his brother Jerome.

One to Watch – Kwadwo Asamoah

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Kwadwo Asamoah has quietly established himself a key man for both club and country. At Juventus, where he has won two titles in two seasons, the midfielder is described as “irreplaceable” by manager Antonio Conte. He has won Ghana’s Footballer of the Year award for the last two years. He doesn’t get on the score sheet very often, but the 25 year old, who was named Most Promising African Player of the Year for 2010, can create a chance out of nothing for teammates.

How they qualified

Having won their group with five wins out of six, Ghana thrashed Egypt 6-1 in the home leg of their play-off to ensure a 2-1 loss in the return leg was academic. They ended as the top scorers in African qualifying with 25 goals.

Prediction – Group Stages

Ghana’s feat of reaching the quarter-finals in 2010 is unlikely to be repeated by any other African team in the near future, and Akwasi Appiah’s side certainly won’t repeat their achievement. They will battle it out with Portugal for second in Group G, but will just lose out to CR7 and co.

United States

USA-National-Team

  • World Ranking: 14 (correct to 6 June)
  • World Cup best: Third (1930)
  • World Cups played in (including 2014): 10 (first in 1930)
  • Manager: Jurgen Klinsmann
  • Captain: Clint Dempsey

Star Man – Clint Dempsey

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With eight goals during the qualifying campaign, and 36 in 103 caps, captain With eight goals during the qualifying campaign, and 36 in 103 caps, captain Clint Dempsey continues to provide the attacking thrust he demonstrated so regularly in the Premier League with Fulham and Tottenham. Currently playing in the MLS with Seattle Sounders, the 31 year old became only the second American player to score in two World Cups when Rob Green spilt his shot into the net against England in 2010, and a goal in Brazil will mean he is only player from the States to score in three tournaments.

One to Watch – Graham Zusi

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Graham Zusi looks set fair to be the breakthrough player of the US squad and win himself a big move from Sporting Kansas City. His injury-time equaliser against Panama (followed by Aron Johansson’s even later winner) meant the Mexicans advanced through qualification instead of the plucky (and presumably furious) Panamanians. He has three goals in 22 games for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side and has the ability to change a game, the solid Zusi is capable of the stunning cross, pass or run, though the 27 year old isn’t a world-class finisher. Saying that, view this stunning free-kick below…

How they qualified

They recovered from an opening 2-1 defeat by Honduras to finish four points clear at the top of the six-team final group phase, winning all five home matches.

Prediction – Group Stages

The USA’s job is just as hard as Costa Rica’s is in Group D. It’s going to be really tough for them as all three of their opponents are much better than them. No wins is almost a certainty but no points is not.

My final table prediction

Group G

 

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