This year’s FIFA World Cup is just a few days away, and the predictions for this year’s tournament have been as controversial as always, particularly for groups such as group G. Group G, which has been described by analysts as this year’s ‘group of death’, includes Germany, Portugal, Ghana, and the United States of America. These teams are ranked 2, 3, 38, and 14 in the world by FIFA, but Ghana’s ranking should not be taken as an indicator that they do not belong in the group, as they have caused problems in the past, particularly for the Americans.
Ghana looks to rely heavily on players such as Afriyie Acquah, a 22-year-old midfielder who has spent the past season on loan to Parma. Acquah is a player who has been predicted to shine in this upcoming FIFA World Cup, and The Sun has reported that Arsenal FC is looking into acquiring the young Ghanaian. Kevin-Prince Boateng will also be an important player for Ghana, and will look to upset his brother Jerome Boateng, a defender for the German national team. Ghana has knocked the United States out of the past two FIFA World Cups, and will likely be focusing on beating Jurgen Klinsmann’s side once again. That being said, Ghana, who made the finals in this February’s African Nations Championship, does not look to have enough talent to upset Germany or Portugal, and will therefore likely not advance out of the group stage.
The American national team has been the subject of much discussion in recent days, largely due to Klinsmann’s decision to omit Landon Donovan from his squad. Donovan, the most prolific scorer in American footballing history, was replaced on the national squad by 18-year-old Julian Green, who plays for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. Furthermore, although veteran Clint Dempsey still remains on the American roster, the hopes of America advancing from the group stage have been dulled by a lacklustre performance leading up to this year’s FIFA World Cup. Particularly disturbing to American fans was the fact that the U.S.A drew Scotland, and lost to the Ukraine and Austria in international matches leading up to the tournament. If the Americans hope to advance from the group, they will need contributions from players such as Jozy Altidore, and even that may not be enough to propel them past Portugal and Germany.
Portugal is ranked number 3 in the FIFA world rankings, and they hope that they can at least repeat their performance from the 2012 UEFA European Championship, where they lost to Spain in the semi-finals. Their chances of accomplishing this feat in the upcoming FIFA World Cup will rest largely on the shoulders of Cristiano Ronaldo, who won the Ballon d’Or in 2013 and who is the highest paid football player in the world. In fact, it was Cristiano Ronaldo who sent Portugal to the World Cup in the first place, when he scored a hat trick against Sweden during the UEFA playoffs in November. Players such as Fabio Coentrao will also need to step up if Portugal is to make a deep run in this year’s FIFA World Cup, but it seems likely that they have enough skill to beat both Ghana and the U.S.A to advance into the elimination rounds.
That brings us to Germany, the 2 ranked team in the world according to FIFA, who will be looking to make a long run through this year’s tournament. Unlike the United States, Germany has looked anything but shaky in its qualifying matches, going undefeated and scoring 36 goals through only 10 games. Furthermore, although the German roster is littered with star-calibre players, Mesut Ozil looks to make a massive impact, much like he did in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Ozil will be particularly important in his role as a play-maker, as he will be called upon to find speedy forwards such as Thomas Mueller and Marco Reus. Finally, although injuries have prevented Mario Gomez and Lars Bender from making the trip to Brazil, the German national squad looks to have enough depth to take on all comers in Group G.
To sum up, Germany and Portugal will advance through the group stage, while Ghana and the United States of America look to prove that they belong with the top teams in the world. Of particular interest, however, will be the match between Portugal and the United States, as an upset by the American side might just be enough to sneak them through to the elimination rounds. However, whatever predictions have been made regarding Group G, and the FIFA World Cup in general, look for all teams to play for the win, as everybody knows that anything can happen on the pitch.
By Nicholas Grabe