World Cup 2014 Preview
The Group Stages
Group G pits two of the strongest European nations against each other with Germany and Portugal meeting. USA will be no pushovers and Ghana will be one of the most competitive African teams this summer.
Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA
Ranked 2nd in the world, Germany have been flying high on the international stage for a few years now. Flying high that is, without actually getting their hands on a trophy. Joachim Low’s teams good spell had the poor luck of coinciding with the rise of possibly the best national team of all time in Spain. Germany impressed at South Africa 2010, disposing of England and Argentina 4-1 and 4-0 respectively. They eventually fell at the semi-finals stage to eventual winners Spain, losing 1-0, just as they had in the Euro 2008 final.
German football has gone from strength-to-strength with teams such as Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich especially exerting their dominance on the European stage over the last couple of years.
Germany can rely on the experience of players such as Philip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Per Mertesacker, Miroslav Klose, Sami Khedira and Lukas Podolski. They also have possibly the most talented pool of young players in the world available to them; Marco Reus, Andrea Schurrle, Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze, Julian Draxler, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller (the winner of the Golden Boot at the 2010 finals). Even though these players are young they have experience and have been on the international scene for some years now.
Ozil was their top-scorer in qualifying with eight goals and Reus got five. Germany won their group easily winning nine and drawing one of their ten games.
Portugal had a tough time qualifying, having to pass Ibrahimovic’s Sweden in the playoffs. Thanks to a masterclass from Cristiano Ronaldo in the second leg in Sweden they withstood a spirited effort from the Swede’s to book their place in Brazil. Portugal had originally finished 2nd in their group behind Russia. Ronaldo scored eight in qualifying with Helder Postiga contributing six goals. The other key-players available to coach Paulo Bento are Nani, Fabio Coentrao, Raul Meireles, Pepe and Joao Moutinho. Portugal are currently listed at 4th in the FIFA rankings.
Ghana beat Egypt 7-3 on aggregate in their African playoff match. This was after they won their group stage ahead of closest rivals Zambia. Ghana are ranked 35th in the world at present and coach Kwesi Appiah must know that they will certainly be up against all odds to reach the knockout stages. He does however have some undoubted talent and experience in his squad. Players such as Asamoah Gyan, Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, Andre Ayew and Kevin-Prince Boateng will be looking to ensure that the “Black Stars” leave their mark in Brazil.
Another of the World Cup’s little sub-plots is the meeting of USA and Germany. Despite the obvious political history between the two super-powers there is also the added twist of the USA coach being ex-German striker Jurgen Klinsmann. USA are now ranked 14th and possess some top-quality players that helped them qualify for the finals comfortably. They won their initial group ahead of Jamaica and their next group ahead of Costa Rica, gaining an automatic ticket for Brazil. Clint Dempsey scored eight along the way while Eddie Johnson and Jozy Altidore got four each. Other key-players in the Klinsmann’s squad are Tim Howard, Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley.
USA can consider themselves slightly unfortunate with the draw they got for the finals and will find it very difficult to progress.
Group G predictions:
The European teams should possess too much strength and experience at the top-level for both USA and Ghana.
Join us again in a few days for our preview of Group H.
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