World Cup Special #7: GROUP G

by Ray_North on June 6, 2014

images-4Hmmm, Group G – if Group D is the Group of Death (England, Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica), then Group G, Germany, Ghana, Portugal and USA isn’t far behind – so, I’ll call it the Group of Intensive Care – because, let’s face it, it’s another cracking group.

Ghana were everyone favourites four years ago, when they were cruelly denied a deserved placed in the Semi-final by the hand of, ahem, Louis Suarez. But let’s not dwell on that; Germany, on the other hand, are never cruelly denied anything, because, being Germans, everything runs their way. Whilst Portugal have Ronaldo and USA are USA and pleasingly mediocre.

Let’s start with the USofA. They seem to qualify regularly, in these modern times, and once at the competition, they never do quite as bad as you hope they will. They always have great big keepers, a couple of defenders who look like Shaggy of Scooby Doo and a striker with good teeth. And this squad is no different – between the sticks, Howard is brilliant for Everton and Guzan has been similarly outstanding for Aston Villa all season. In defence DeMarcus Beasley and Geoff Cameron won’t let anyone down; whist in midfield Kyle Beckerman has lots of experience and Alejandro Bedoya has been successfully plying his trade in France, but, I fear that they lack the natural ability, the craft and guile to unlock the stubborn defences they’ll come against in this group. Their attack made up of the faltering Clint Demspey and Sunderland’s Altidore doesn’t seem over-brimming with goals either, and they may regret not bringing the more dependable Landon Donovan.

images-5I can’t see the Yanks doing anything but going home, and fairly early as well.

Player to watch – Graham Zusi looked lively during their qualification.

Portugal are always lively, and any team with Christiano Ronaldo in it is going to be capable of winning games of football. The problem for Portugal is getting him the ball and preventing others from putting it in their net. They struggled in qualification, requiring a play-off and a hat-trick from the golden one to see off Sweden.

In defence they will rely heavily on the Madrid duo,Coentrao and Pepe, who won’t let anyone down, but it is in midfield that I fear that Portugal are too ordinary to be true contenders – ok, there’s nothing wrong with the likes of Simao, Veloso, Nani or Raul Meireles (who I liked a lot in his brief spell at Liverpool), but, none of them are the type who can control a match when the going gets really tough to the extent that Portugal will need if they are going to unleash the talent of Ronaldo.

I do think that Portugal will just get the second spot in this group, but, after that, I don’t see them going much further.

images-6Player to watch – if you can take your eyes of Christiano Ronaldo, then check out Andre Almeida, he might not be very good, but at least he’ll stop you looking at Christiano bloody Ronaldo.

By the end of the last World Cup, Ghana were everyone’s favourites – they played great football, had wonderful supporters and scored some great goals – we all wept when when that impish tinker Suarez cheated them out of a semi-final place and then when the fantastic Asamoah skied the penalty – ah the cruel fate of football.

The good news is that the supporters are all coming back, well some of them are coming back, but most of the team definitely are – Jonnie Mensah will continue to shore things up at the back, Kevin Prince Boateng, Michael Essien and Sully Muntari will continue to dominate the midfield and the goals will be provided once again by Asamoah. The only problem is, that some of these lads are now, dare I say it, slightly past their best and the fear is that four years ago, might have been their best ever chance.
But, who knows, World Cups have a habit of rekindling youth and bringing out the best in tired legs. They will give Germany and Portugal a great game, but, sadly, I can’t see them getting out of the Group of Intensive Care.images-7

Player to watch – Jordan Ayew, scores goals.

Germany are true World Cup heavyweights – they always come prepared and they always do well – incredibly however, the Germans haven’t actually won an international tournament since 1996, but, they now think that they have the squad to do it.

And it’s difficult to argue against them – Joachim Lowe is an interesting manager who has carefully prepared the squad over a long period of time, and, what a squad it is. There are no real weaknesses – Neuer is a cracking goalkeeper, Lahm (wherever he plays), Mertersacker and Hummels are strong at the back; Schweinsteiger, Reus and Gotze are wonderful in midfield, whilst up front Thomas Muller was the top goalscorer in the last tournament, whilst Klose seems to have been scoring international goals forever.
They should comfortably navigate their way through this group – but, will they go all the way? I don’t think so, for the simple reason, that although the Germans are good, to me, they lack that one player, that genius who is needed by most teams if they are going to win the greatest sporting prize of all.Unknown-2

Player to watch: everyone’s getting excited about the young Bayern Munich attacker, Toni Kroos, let’s see how he goes.

My prediction:
1. Germany
2. Portugal
3. Ghana
4. USA

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