World Cup Group G Preview – by Dale Henderson

June 1, 2014 9:48 am

Group G looks like a very hard group to predict indeed. It consists of Germany, USA, Portugal and Ghana, these are four teams which have big reputations, and in all honesty I cannot call it. You cannot look past Germany for group winners, but they have games in the north of Brazil and two early kick offs, with the temperature being boiling hot, so expect this to be a factor. You may think that this shouldn’t be, but even the local Brazilian teams who play in that region will not play a game at that time, so make of that what you will. This group also has Portugal. Portugal’s so called golden generation may not have won anything and the team may not have the names they once had, but one player they do have is that of Cristiano Ronaldo and that is all it may take. The third team in this group is Ghana, they have a real exciting mix of young and experienced players, with this group also throwing up the prospect of the Boateng brothers playing each other. The final team in the group is the USA, they have been making steady strides in the last few world cups and will again be looking to get out of the group when they get to Brazil. With Landon Donovan’s omission from the 23 you have to wonder where the goals will come from considering Jozy Altidore’s terrible goal return in the premiership. They do have Clint Dempsey and he will for sure need to be at his absolute best.

The Teams

Germany – this well-oiled machine looks to be gearing up rather nicely, they play decent football and have some genuine world class players. They were in cruise control in qualifying, and were unbeaten, with 9 wins and one draw, with Mesut Ozil top scorer with 8 goals and finishing 4th top scorer overall in qualifying. They have a sturdy defence containing Philip Lahm (6.8), probably for me the best right back in the world but who has been converted to a defensive midfielder under Pep Guardiola. Lahm may also yet play in this position for Germany as well given the recent injury to Lars Bender who will be a big miss for the Germans and they also have other injury worries in midfield with Schweinsteiger (6.4) and Khedira (6.7) carrying knocks and Gundogan and Gomez not even making the squad because due to injury.

Key Player – it has to be Mesut Ozil (7.4) is absolutely key for the Germans he played a pivotal role in qualifying scoring 8 and although he had an up and down season with arsenal it cannot be disputed that the guy is a class act and offers Germany a real creative outlet in the number 10 role. He will have a lot of legs around him with players like Gotze (6.5) and Draxler (5.9) and it will be a lot slower tempo than the ferocious pace of the premier league. He will be heavily relied upon to unlock the defence of the opposition team especially in the blistering heat in the north of the country.

One to watch – this is difficult one considering the amount of talent in this squad but I think the stage is set for Julian Draxler (5.9) the stage is set for the young winger to make a real impact on the world stage and for a winger despite being only 20 he really does have it all. He has pace, can dribble, has an end product and pops up with the odd goal. He didn’t have a great record in his domestic league, but fared better with 4 in ten in the champions league. Definitely one to look out for when the line-ups drop on the newsfeed.

Portugal – Portugal finished one point behind Russia in qualifying, this set up an epic clash with Sweden in the playoffs which was dubbed Ronaldo vs Zlatan, and over two legs did not disappoint. However, this Portugal team lacks the same names it once did and it remains to be seen how the retirement of the golden generation is going to affect their world cup chances. They have one name on that team sheet that no defender will be happy to see, and that is the one and only Ronaldo if anyone can do what Maradona did in 1986 and carry a team to World Cup victory, it is CR7.

Key Player – Ronaldo (10.7) this guy is phenomenal for me, the best player in the world, he literally has everything, strong, good in the air, technique, pace to burn, goal scorer, the list goes on and on, but you don’t need me to tell you all this! He will however, be absolutely key to Portugal’s chances of progressing and will need to be at his absolute best.

One to watch – Joao Moutinho (6.7) there is a reason Monaco splashed out on this midfield maestro and that is because he makes a team tick. Ronaldo will very much be the focal point of this team but Moutinho will be the engine room and he will also need to be at his best for Portugal to do well.

Ghana – the black stars qualified with relative ease, topping their group and then thrashing Egypt 7-3 on aggregate, with it being 6-1 in the first leg, it finally seems like the Ghanaian s may finally be getting their act together on the world stage. They have some experienced heads in the squad, like Michael Essien(5.0), Asamoah Gyan (7.2) and Kevin Prince-Boateng (7.4) and then some real exciting young talent in the Ayew brothers. They went out of the Nations Cup to Nigeria but beat a real handy Egyptian side pretty easily in the playoffs to qualify for the World Cup. If it clicks for them in the group stages then expect some upsets in this group.

Key Players – Asamoah Gyan (7.2) he often plays as a solitary striker and could maybe be a decent point scorer if it comes together for Ghana in Brazil. He has fallen off the radar in club football, turning out for Al Ain in the Arabian Gulf League and collecting a colossal pay-check. but to be fair to him he has brilliant goal returns. However, this league is very limited but he is still a good player in my opinion and will no doubt be the hit-man for his country and was impressive in South Africa in the last World Cup.

One to watch – Andre Ayew (6.8), this guy in Ghana is footballing royalty, with his father Abedi Pele considered Ghana’s best ever player, Ayew has really been improving as a player in the last few seasons for Olympic Marseille, becoming a real key player for them, and can play on the wing or as a second striker. He has all the hallmarks to be a very good player, pacey, can dribble well and has a good technique and range of passing. Ghana will look to this guy and Prince-Boateng to supply Gyan with chances but also to score the odd goal himself.

USA – since Jurgen Klinsmann took over the Americans he has been on a collision course with the big personalities within the squad, and no more so in the last few days when he has dropped probably USA’s greatest ever player in Landon Donovan. The USA finished top of the final qualifying group in the CONCACAF region by 4 points, however without Donovan I would be worried about their squad lacking the necessary quality to get out of an extremely difficult group, with only Howard, Bradley (5.4) and Dempsey (7.0) the players of proven quality.

Key Player – Clint Dempsey (7.0), with Donovan’s omission from the 23, extra pressure is going to fall on the former Fulham and Spurs player shoulders to score goals. He has started the MLS season in blistering form for Toronto, with 8 goals in 9 appearances, and if the United States hope to achieve their aim of getting to the quarter finals Dempsey will need to be on top form.

One to Watch – Aron Johannsson (6.9) had a great season with AZ Alkmaar in the Eredivisie, scoring 32 in 52 league games, this will be a real step up for the young striker but he has reveled in being AZ’s top man and is a consistent goal threat can play up front as an out and out striker or out wide cutting in. It remains to be seen how Klinsmann will best utilise the youngsters talent.

Once again, thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope it’s of some help.

Dale Henderson

This post was written by FiT Admin

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