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FIFA World Cup 2014: Preview and Predictions - Group G

A Winter's Tale

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This is another of the eye catching groups where all four teams reached the last 16 in 2010. They are all decent teams with one of the strongest European teams Germany, presumably competing with a solid Portugal who have the current best player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo. However, the USA and Ghana are two good international sides and in any other group, they would stand a decent chance of going through. I predict Germany to win the group, but a bad result in the first game would put them under pressure. Portugal are also a side who could equally do very well and finish top, of fail to turn up they could face a surprise early exit - they should qualify in second place. It is impossible to call between the USA and Ghana, but I'm going for the US given how organised and difficult to beat they can be and if they have a good group stage then I wouldn't be surprised if they end up in the last 16. The same goes for Ghana although I'm unsure as to how they have progressed since the last world cup.

Since putting greater emphasis on youth football, Germany in the last 8 years have consistently been in the deep end of all the major tournaments but have just fallen at the final hurdle. They've got a variety of players, some decent depth in their squad aswell as physical strength and technical ability. And of course they are incredibly organised and are ruthless on the counter attack. Sadly for them they are a little curtailed by injuries and they aren't the strongest in quality up front and in defence. But other than Spain's ticka-tacka, Germany are probably the complete and more balanced international side in European or even World football. They have probably grown since 2010 but they are still a fairly young side and I expect them to at least reach the last 8 and if they can keep their players fit, have a good game plan for every match and punish their opponents on the counter-attack, then Germany stand a good chance of going all the way. Their squad is made of: 16 from Germany (7 from Bayern Munich, 4 from Borussia Dortmund, 2 from Schalke, 1 from Freiburg, Honnover, Borussia Monchegladbach), 4 from England (3 from Arsenal, 1 from Chelsea); 2 from Italy (Lazio and Sampdoria), 1 from Spain (Real Madrid). They have many important players such as the goalkeeper Neuer, Mats Hummels is a good defender. Of course there is excellent and consistent Philipp Lahm who might play in midfield at times, and Bastian Schweinstieger is also a midfield maestro. They are strongest in attacking midfield with Mario Gotze or Mesut Ozil and with other options on the bench. They are weak in attack with the only striker being the very experienced Klose but Thomas Muller can play up front aswell. Defence isn't the greatest either, so Germany despite their strength can potentially be fragile but they should be the most likely to team to top the group.

Portugal are kind of like the sort of European side that England are, one who can cause any team problems with a selection of good players to choose from, but they have got the strength and depth and consistency to be top quality. They should reach the last 16, and they would be a pretty dangerous team in knock-out stage - only a penalty shoot-out denied them a place in the Euro 2012 final - but qualification is far from guaranteed. They are reliant heavily on the amazing Cristiano Ronaldo and also Joao Moutinho. They will be a difficult team to beat, with a defence that isn't top quality but hard enough to break down with the Real Madrid duo of Pepe and Coentrao. A weak point is the central attacking position where there is no real top quality goalscorer and this will hold Portugal back. All eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo, and if he can have as good a World Cup as his season was with Real Madrid, then he can carry Portugal into the last 8 but a bad start to Germany would put Portugal under great pressure to qualify. Their squad is: 8 from Portugal (3 from Braga, 2 from Benfica, Sporting and 1 from Porto); 6 from Spain (3 from Real Madrid, 2 from Valencia, 1 from Sevilla); 3 from Turkey (2 from Fenerbanche, 1 from Besiktas); 1 from England (Manchester United), Italy (Lazio), Russia (Zenit), Ukraine (Dynamo Kiev), France (Monaco), Germany (Wolfsburg).

Jurgen Klinsmann's United States alongside Ghana are two admirable, hard-working, well-organised and very decent international sides without having the star players and the reputation of the biggest international sides. They will be underdogs but they will give the top teams in this group a real challenge. They aren't blessed with a lot of pace and their players don't play for the best of club sides, but when they come together as a unit for international duties, they are one very hard-working and difficult bunch to beat and without having any one real star player, the USA have made a team that's greater than the sum of its parts. They haven't got a lot of quality up-front but Klinsmann is trying to provide a formula that makes the USA a more potent side when on the attack.
9 from USA (2 from Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City, 1 from LA Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo); 4 from Germany (Nurnberg, Hoffenheim, Bayern Munich, Hertha Berlin) and England (Everton, Stoke, Aston Villa and Sunderland); 1 from Canada (Tornoto), Mexico (Puebla), Netherlands (AZ), Norway (Rosenborg), France (Nantes), Turkey (Beskitas).

Ghana have qualified for the knock-out stages in 2006 and 2010, but it will be a very big ask for them to progress this time with the quality of opposition in Group D. Nevertheless, without the star names of the Ivory Coast and backbone of Algeria, Ghana are probably the more complete African side and the most capable of giving any team a challenge. They are a fairly flexible side with a blend of physicality, pace and power. Asamoah Gyan is the talisman and unlike some of the other African teams where the best are isolated, Ghana should link-up and provide their best players with decent amount of support. They also have an experienced midfield with the likes of Essien and Muntari and goals can come from elsewhere other than Gyan. Perhaps the goalkeeper and some of the defensive positions could be a weak point. They squad is made up of: 5 from France (Marseille, Rennes, Valenciennes, Evian, Sochaux), Italy (2 from Milan, 1 from Juventus, Udinese, Parma); 2 from Russia (Rubin Kazan, Kuban Krasnodar), South Africa (Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns); 1 from England (Middlesbrough), Belgium (Standard Liege), Tunisia (Esperance), Norway (Stromsgodset), Germany (Schalke), Netherlands (Vitesse), UAE (Al-Ain), Ghana (Aduana Stars), Greece (Plantanias). If Ghana have a successful group stage, then they could stand a chance of finishing second and they are capable of beating the USA and even Portugal. But defeat against the USA - which I think is more likely - then they've got an ominous task ahead of them with the remaining games against Germany and Portugal, which could see them finish bottom.

Key games:

All of the games are important but by far, the stand out and most important Germany v Portugal, 16th June at 5pm: This should determine who's in a great position to qualify as group winners, and who has got the most work to do.

Predictions:

[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][size=2][background=rgb(248,241,243)]Group G:[/background][/size][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]Germany[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 1-0 Portugal, 16[sup]th[/sup] June @ 5pm[/size][/background][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]Ghana[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 1-2 USA, 16[sup]th[/sup] June @ 11pm[/size][/background][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]Germany[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 2-0 Ghana, 21[sup]st[/sup] June @ 8pm[/size][/background][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]USA[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 1-2 Portugal, 21[sup]st[/sup] June @ 11pm[/size][/background][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]Portugal[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 1-0 Ghana, 26[sup]th[/sup] June @ 5pm[/size][/background][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]USA[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 1-2 Germany, 26[sup]th[/sup] June @ 5pm[/size][/background][/font][/color]

[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]Germany[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 9pts[/size][/background][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]Portugal[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 6pts[/size][/background][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]USA[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 3pts[/size][/background][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]Ghana[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 0pts[/size][/background][/font][/color]

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