Group G: Germany, U.S. primed to advance
Portugal's already at a disavantage
Group G features the best team from North and Central America, perhaps the top side from Africa and the most well-rounded team from Europe.
Ah yes..... and the other team in the group boasts the world's top player.
No wonder the quartet of teams below is considered by many in Brazil to be the tournament's "Group of Death."
We'll start with the favourites:
English playing great Gary Lineker calls soccer a simple game where: "twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end the Germans always win.”
Lineker has a point. Germany has already appeared in seven World Cup finals and won three of them. It's also the only country to win both the men's and women's World Cup. In Brazil, where the likes of Mesut Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Müller are in their prime, it's a golden generation even by German standards. Müller's hat trick in Germany's opening 4-0 rout over Portugal is testament to that.
A 4-3 win in a match last summer had Americans dreaming their team was on par with the Germans. It was especially sweet for USA manager Jurgen Klinsmann, who used to coach Germany. But winning a friendly match in Washington D.C. over what was essentially a German B or even C team, should be cause for only limited optimism. Then there's the matter of Landon Donovan. Klinsmann shocked many when he dropped the USA's all-time leading scorer from the team playing in Brazil. But without Donovan, the U.S. looked like an inspired outfit in its opening win over Ghana. Perhaps Klinsmann is on to something.
Injustice at World Cup
Ghana's 2-1 loss to the Americans was harsh, given how much of the game the Africans controlled. Sadly for them, the Black Stars know about injustice at this tournament. They were a missed penalty kick away from going to the World Cup semifinals four years ago. This time around the Ghanaian Football Federation has set a goal to make it at least that far. Given its fortune, that’s not likely to happen.
Led by Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal was many people's favourite to join Germany in getting out of this group. Ronaldo is the current World Player of the Year, after a season where he led his club, Real Madrid, to the Champions League title. In Brazil he will not be surrounded with quite as talented a supporting cast. Ronaldo, as we saw in Portugal's loss to Germany, has a tendency to try to do things by himself. His teammates, as we've also seen, often try too hard to get him the ball. Against weaker defences the strategy isn't a bad one. There aren't too many weak defences in Brazil, though.
The USA appears poised to make just its second appearance in a World Cup knock-out round since 1930. If it does, it'll be by finishing behind Germany in this group.