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USA’s World Cup opponents: What to expect from Germany, Portugal and Ghana

Dec 6, 2013, 2:31 PM EDT

cristiano_ronaldo_nani_portugal Reuters

We all knew this World Cup was going to be difficult, but the U.S. have certainly been handed a tough task to make the last 16. Drawn in Group G alongside European powerhouses Germany and Portugal and another meeting with old foes Ghana, Jurgen Klinsmann’s side couldn’t have got a tougher draw as they’re entrenched in a dreaded “Group of Death.”

(MORE: 2014 World Cup Draw – USA in Group of Death with Germany, Portugal, Ghana – Schedule, times, venues)

It’s not all doom and gloom, as the USA face Ghana in their opening game before battling it out with Germany and Portugal, both of whom are ranked in the worlds top five… Wowzer. Let’s take a quick gander at the three teams the USA face in the Group G and what we can look forward to next summer.

GERMANY (FIFA WORLD RANKING – #2) Klinsmann will face his home nation in the final group stage game, you just knew it would turn out likes this? Klinsmann’s former assistant for the German national team, Joachim Low, has taken the side to greater heights since the the U.S. coach left and the German national team are now stacked with some of the most exciting young talent in world soccer. Low has the likes of Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus, Mario Gotze, Lukas Podolski, Andre Schurrle and Thomas Muller amongst a whole host of other to choose from… and that’s just his attacking midfield spot. Germany are one of the favorites and although the USA beat the three-time World Cup winners in a friendly in Washington D.C. last summer, that was a weakened German side. At full strength and with all their players on form, Germany may be the favorites for this summers tournament. They’ve made the semifinals in the past three World Cups as USMNT head coach Klinsmann helped reignite the country’s hopes. Is he the man to dash them at Brazil 2014? Key Players: Mesut Ozil, Philip Lahm, Manuel Neuer

source: Getty Images

Ronaldo will spearhead a talented Portuguese team. Can the U.S. defense stop him?

PORTUGAL (FIFA WORLD RANKING – #5) They had to go through the European playoffs to make the World Cup, but make no mistake about it, Portugal will be one of the favorites to lift the trophy in Brazil. Spearheaded by Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese swept aside Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Sweden in style as the Real Madrid star scored four goals over the two legs. Former Portugal defender Paulo Bento is the manager and his side are stacked with experienced players and stars such as Joao Moutinho, Nani, Helder Postiga and many more, on their day Portugal are one of the worlds best teams. One man will cause the USMNT problems: Ronaldo. If Klinsmann’s defense can somehow keep the man many expect to be named World Player of the Year quite, they’ll have a chance. Key Players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Moutinho, Helder Postiga


source: Getty Images

Can the Black Stars knock the USA out of a World Cup once again?

Ah, you again! The U.S. know Ghana only too well, as the African nation sent home Bob Bradley’s men from the last World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and beat the USA in the group stages of 2006 with the same 2-1 scoreline. That last 16 defeat over three years ago still rattles many cages of U.S. fans and plenty of national team supporters wanted another pop at the “Black Stars” to put things right. Well, now you have it. Coached by Ghanian James Appiah, they are solid and dependable and absolutely obliterated Bob Bradley’s Egypt in the finally qualifying round to make the World Cup. Their main striker Asomah Gyan has spent time in the Premier League and was a star in the last World Cup when Ghana were just a penalty kick away from being the first African side to make it to the semifinals. Expect a well-organized unit full of pace and skill on the wings. Revenge would be sweet, if they can deliver, against Ghana. Key Players: Asamoah Gyan, Sulley Muntari, Harrison Afful

  1. geojock - Dec 6, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    I like that USA drew Ghana. They are the bottom team of the group, but could steal points; however, the one team that WONT underestimate them is USA.

    • ws0001 - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:21 PM

      Ghana with its best squad is a better team than the US with their best squad. There is no fool proof system for ranking teams across confederations. African nations suffer from the timing of the Cup of Nations tournaments where many of the top players do not want to leave their clubs during the heart of the season, and even in qualifying matches players are wary of field conditions in poorer nations. Certainly, this hurts the ranking of Ghana as there is no comparing the roster they put forth against Zambia and Egypt this fall with the squads they took to the 2013 Cup of Nations tournament. If Ghana is able to bring a healthy Gyan, KPB, Asamoah, Ayew, Muntari, and Essien, the US will be lucky to come away with a single point.

      • bear06 - Dec 7, 2013 at 3:35 AM

        No, they’re not. The USA are now a much better team than the one from 2010.

      • ws0001 - Dec 7, 2013 at 3:43 PM

        It has nothing to do with 2010. Kwadwo Asamoah, Muntari, Essien, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Andre Ayew, and Jordan Ayew all play for UEFA Champions League clubs this year. Asamoah Gyan has been a prolific scorer everywhere he has played (Ligue 1, EPL, and now for $200K per week in UAE) and just led CAF qualifying in goals scored. Behind them are Chelsea signed Christian Atsu, Arsenal signed Emmanuel Frimpong, and Juventus signed Richmond Boakye. Their front and midfield players are better. If their back line gets healthy (and there is no reason to believe they won’t), the only place where the US have an advantage is Tim Howard.

      • bear06 - Dec 8, 2013 at 3:04 AM

        The UAE is not a good league to play in and most of Ghana’s defenders play in South Africa and other weak leagues. Boateng has been having injuries and now only plays in every other game for Schalke, he’s not the same player he used to be.

  2. dfstell - Dec 6, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    It’s just going to be a very tight group, I think. You need to win a game 2-0, draw a game and only lose the other 1-0. That’s probably good enough.

    So….obviously we want to beat Ghana 2-0, tie Portugal and keep it tight against Germany. It is probably unlikely, but that’s the recipe.

  3. charliej11 - Dec 6, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    I am looking at the whole route to get to the final 8.

    Need to do well against Ghana, Portugal and probably Belgium. There is no, almost certainly will lose game in there which is nice. Germany should beat the US, but we can finish second to them and not be eliminated. I guess what I am saying is I would rather face Germany in the first round where you can lose, then the second, where you can’t.

  4. player169 - Dec 6, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    CR7 hit by a bus he might (best Yoda voice)!!!

  5. danielofthedale - Dec 6, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    This is a brutal group but there is hope! Beat Ghana (absolutely have to win that one), draw with Portugal and hope Germany beats them both. Going into the last game Germany would have 6pts, USA 4pts, Portugal 1pt and Ghana 0pt. A draw between Portugal and Ghana means we advance. A draw against Germany means we advance. It will not be easy but it can be done!

  6. braxtonrob - Dec 7, 2013 at 1:48 AM

    Start Guzan against Ghana, and Howard the rest of the way. There; problem solved.

  7. jshalonzo - Dec 7, 2013 at 10:01 AM


    Right on. The US has made huge strides since that WC squad! We also have a better coach to lead them this time around as well.

    • bear06 - Dec 8, 2013 at 3:05 AM


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