Thursday at the World Cup a number of off the field occurrences took center stage. For Luis Suarez, his tournament is over as FIFA said he was “suspended for four months form all football-related activities,” for his bite on Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini. For the Uruguayans, biting issue aside, that ban changes their entire prospects for future success in the cup.
For the USA Jozy Altidore is still not fit to play while for Germany Sami Khedira and Jerome Boateng, who had suffered knocks in their previous participation, will be ready to play. More importantly, perhaps, Thomas Muller is ready despite his ugly facial wound in his last match.
USA Coach Jurgen Klinsmann dismissed any thoughts of Germany and USA playing for the draw that would allow both teams to progress: “That is not the German way. They will be ready to play full out, and that is also the USA way.”
For Ghana, Sulley Muntari is suspended but also has been sent home for indiscipline in the team camp. Going home along with Muntari will be Kevin-Prince Boateng also for the same altercation. The alleged player displeasure, that threatened to turn into a team revolt, seemed to be over payments due. Reports were that Ghana’s government had to send a special airplane to Brazil, carrying three million dollars owed the players for appearing in the tournament, in order to ensure they would take the field today.
For Portugal, Pepe is back after serving his suspension for a red card in his first game. Hugo Almeida and Helder Postiga are still injury concerns, all this aside from already having lost Fabio Coentrao for the cup and playing an under-par Cristiano Ronaldo.
Portugal and Ghana, playing in Brasilia where the weather will range between in the low to mid seventies to the low eighties Fahrenheit and the humidity will be at 50%.
The USA and Germany will play in Recife, where the weather forecasts are for rain to continue with temperatures in the low eighties. The wet conditions in Recife have been a concern and the refs are scheduled to check the pitch several times before game time to ensure the field is playable. FIFA has said the game will be played despite the expected poor weather and short of the refs indicating the pitch was unplayable.
The irony of the matter is that reports are that in Recife the flooding is so extensive fans are having trouble making it to the stadium and are abandoning cars, which are having trouble traversing the flooded streets, to go on foot. BBC reporters on the scene said: “If the game were in the UK it would be called off if only because of the risk to the fans.”
Odds makers are putting the games thus: USA 1-7 chance of beating Germany while the Germans are given an 8-11 chance. The Portuguese are given a 3-4 chance and Ghana a 1-3 chance to win.