Soccer

2014 FIFA World Cup – Group G Preview

Group G in the 2014 FIFA World Cup has Germany, Portugal, United States and Ghana. This is the Group of Death for a variety of reasons! First, every match in Group G will be played in the searing heat and humidity of Salvador, Natal, Manaus, Fortaleza and Recife. Secondly, the miles traveled between sites is the highest out of any group. Then, these teams have the ability to do damage in this year’s World Cup.

Germany has the ability to win the World Cup because all of their players have experience in the competiton, most have gone deep in the tournament and is spearheaded by both Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Lahm can play in the heart of defense and sit in front of the back line and start the attack. Bastian came on the scene as a winger but has transformed into a world-class box-to-box midfielder for Bayern Munich. The questions for Germany lie with the fitness of Sami Khedira after tearing his ACL in late 2013 and coach Joachim “Jogi” Löw’s tactics to give Die Mannschaft their best chance to succeed.

Philipp Lahm isn’t sure of what position he’ll play in the 2014 World Cup.

Portugal has the best player in the world (although others will debate) in Cristiano Ronaldo. He scores with both feet, he scores free kicks better than Beckham, he runs like a deer and he can jump into the stratosphere. Women love him. Men want to be him. His haters loathe him because they feel his ego is bigger than Planet Earth’s solar system. Portugal’s qualifications were in limbo until he scored a hat-trick in the second-leg of a playoff with Sweden (look up that match on YouTube, those goals were epic) singlehandedly qualifying his country for the World Cup finals. With that established, Ronaldo’s fitness was in question until Tuesday night. He played 65 minutes for Portugal against Ireland in New Jersey.

Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal teammates arrive in Brazil ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal teammates arrive in Brazil ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

If you look on paper, the United States has little hope of getting out of the group. They face a team that has eliminated them from the last two World Cups (Ghana), probably the most balanced team (Germany), a team with the world’s most complete player (Portugal) and travel almost 10,000 miles between game sites. The United States back four has never played together in a World Cup. New faces, no Landon Donovan and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has said repeatedly the USA has no chance of winning the World Cup! However, it is conceivable the Americans can get out of the group with a decesive win against Ghana and draws against Portugal and Germany. The player to watch is Clint Dempsey of the Seattle Sounders of the MLS.

Clint Dempsey (number 8) is the captain of the United States and will be Team USA's main playmaker in the 2014 World Cup

Clint Dempsey (number 8) is the captain of the United States and will be Team USA’s main playmaker in the 2014 World Cup

Lastly, Ghana will be driven forward by absolute bosses in midfield Michael Essien, Kwadwo Asamoah of Juventus, Kevin-Prince Boateng of AC Milan and Asamoah Gyan is their main striker. This team has the width, pace and muscle to give the Americans and Portuguese fits. What is missing from Ghana is development. From their 2010 World Cup success in South Africa, these players haven’t developed at the pace most believed. However, they qualified for the 2014 World Cup by blasting favorite Egypt at the final hurdle. This team will give Portugal, Germany and the United States many headaches.

I believe Germany and Portugal (provided that Cristiano Ronaldo is fully fit) will advance from this group. If Ronaldo isn’t fully fit, watch for the United States and Ghana to fight hard for the 2nd qualifying place. All six matches in Group G are important! The sexiest one to me has to be Portugal vs USA in Manaus on 22 June. It was rumored Ronaldo had a room in his house converted to replicate the heat and humidity in Manaus!

Date/Time (ET)                 Home                       Away               Venue
June 16 | 12 PM                 Germany                 Portugal         Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
June 16 | 6 PM                   USA                           Ghana              Arena das Dunas, Natal
June 21 | 3 PM                   Germany                 Ghana              Estádio Castelão, Fortaleza
June 22 | 6 PM                   Portugal                  USA                  Arena Amazônia, Manaus
June 26 | 12 PM                USA                           Germany        Arena Pernambuco, Recife
June 26 | 12 PM                Portugal                  Ghana               Estádio Mané Garrincha, Brasília

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