It’s almost game time in Brazil and the teams are finishing their World Cup preparations. We already previewed Groups A-F. Today we’ll analyze Group G: Germany, Ghana, Portugal and the United States.
Germany is always a threat regardless of the competition. The Germans head to Brazil ranked number two by FIFA right behind Spain. Germany finished third in each of the last two World Cups. In 2002 they were runners up to Brazil. Even more impressive, Germany has made it out of the group stages in every World Cup since 1954 when they won the tournament.
Manager Joachim Low has been in charge of the German national team since 2006. Though very experienced, Low has received recent criticism for taking just one recognized striker to Brazil. Miroslav Klose has scored 14 World Cup goals but Low is putting a lot of faith in the 36-year-old Lazio striker.
The German midfield is stocked with creative players that will have an impact on Germany’s attack. These include Sami Khedira of Real Madrid, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and Bastian Schweinsteiger from Bayern Munich and Mesut Ozil of Arsenal.
Germany also has a number of solid defensive players such as right back Philipp Lahm from Bayern Munich and Arsenal center-back Per Mertesacker.
Ghana is making its third straight appearance in the World Cup. They made it to the round of 16 in 2006 and then the quarter-finals in 2010. While Ghana hopes to go even further in this tournament, being drawn in the same group as Germany and Portugal makes that a tough challenge.
Manager Kwesi Appiah might be the least known manager of all the nations in Brazil. He has spent his entire playing and coaching career in Ghana. Appiah came up through the management ranks with the national team and was appointed manager in 2012.
Top players for Ghana include veteran midfielder Michael Essien of AC Milan and experienced forwards Asamoah Gyan of Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates and Kevin-Prince Boateng of Schalke 04.
22-year-old forward Majeed Waris who plays for Valenciennes in France’s second division will add a touch of youth to team Ghana’s attack.
Portugal arrive in Brazil with a number four ranking and the most recent Ballon d'Or recipient; Cristiano Ronaldo.
This will be Portugal’s sixth appearance in the World Cup. Their best results were a third place finish in 1966 and fourth in 2006.
Portugal will be on somewhat familiar ground in Brazil where Portuguese is the native language and the team has a following.
Manager Paulo Bento was a defensive midfielder during his playing days and he made 35 appearances for the national team from 1992-2002. After serving as head coach for Sporting Lisbon, Bento was named manager for Portugal in 2010.
In addition to Ronaldo, Portugal’s team includes forward Helder Postiga of Lazio, midfielders Joao Moutinho of Monaco and Miguel Veloso of Dynamo Kiev and experienced defenders Bruno Alves of Fenerbahce and Pepe from Real Madrid
Jurgen Klinsmann heads to Brazil for his first World Cup as manager of the United States. He also arrives without team USA’s all time goal scorer, Landon Donovan.
During his playing days, Klinsmann was a prolific striker and was a part of the German squad that won the 1990 World Cup and the 1996 European Championship. His managerial experience includes stints with the German national team from 2004-2006 and Bayern Munich from 2008-2009.
Klinsmann has decided to go with raw youth and has included unproven players such as 18-year old Julian Green, 20-year-old DeAndre Yedlin and 21-yeard-old John Brooks in his squad. This and leaving Donovan off of the team has put Klinsmann in the hot seat. If his decisions backfire, he could be facing a lot of questions following the tournament.
Like England, the United States finds itself in one of the toughest groups in the tournament. Expectations for the team are not high as its Group G opponents include Germany, Portugal and Ghana.
Without Donovan, striker Clint Dempsey will have a lot of responsibility for the USA’s attack.
Other potential impact players include veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard who plays for Everton and midfielder Graham Zusi of Sporting Kansas City who has seen his stature with the national team grow. His equalizing goal against Panama last October, led to Mexico qualifying for the World Cup over Panama. This has made Zusi a hero with Mexican soccer fans.
With Argentina and Portugal in their group, Ghana and the United States are going to have to be at their best in order to move on.
Next time we’ll take a look at the final group; Group H: Algeria, Belgium, Russia and South Korea
Past Group Previews: