World Cup Preview: Group G

Cristiano Ronaldo will be tasked with leading Portugal's World Cup campaign in Brazil

Cristiano Ronaldo will be tasked with leading Portugal’s World Cup campaign in Brazil

Each World Cup draw tends to throw out a so called “Group of Death”, and the 2014 edition is no different with Group G containing four very strong international sides. Germany, always a threat at any major tournament, are the jewel in Group G’s crown and they’re joined by Ghana, the USA and the Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal. Making it out alive from the group of death will be no easy task and as a result Group G could well be the tightest of the eight World Cup foursomes.

Germany

Best Finish – Winners (1954, 1974, 1990)

Odds – 13/2

Germany surprised many observers four years ago in South Africa when their band of young, unheralded players took the tournament by storm and helped the country outperform modest expectations. The Germans won’t be taking anyone by surprise in Brazil, however, as those youngsters have matured into some of the finest and most recognisable players in the world. Phillip Lahm leads the Germany side and the full-back has developed his technical game to such an extent that Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola has often used him in a deep-lying midfield role. With the likes of Thomas Muller and Arsenal play-maker Mesut Ozil operating in more advanced positions Germany have all the bases covered – which could be ominous for the other nations in Group G and elsewhere.

Portugal

Best Finish – Third Place (1966)

Odds – 28/1

It’s no secret who Portugal’s main man is heading into the World Cup. Yet despite it being common knowledge that Cristiano Ronaldo is the focal point of his side’s attack, stopping the Real Madrid forward is easier said than done. Ronaldo is a threat from anywhere on the pitch thanks to his incredible leaping ability and his ferocious strike, making him dangerous not just from open play but also from set-pieces in and around the penalty area. The rest of the Portugal squad is talented if a little past its peak – Helder Postiga for example left Tottenham Hostpur after a failed stint almost a decade ago, while midfielder Raul Meireles will be familiar with English football fans after spells with Liverpool and Chelsea. Nonetheless Portugal will be a major threat at the World Cup if that man Ronaldo is on top of his game. The rest of the squad still have a job to do, of course, but with Ronaldo at his imperious best Portugal are a proposition no team wants to have to deal with.

Ghana

Best Finish – Quarter Finals (2010)

Odds – 200/1

Ghana’s best finish at a World Cup may have been the quarter finals four years ago, but many of you will vividly remember Luis Suarez’s handball which robbed the African nation of a semi-final berth in South Africa. The pick of the African teams in 2010, Ghana will look to repeat the trick in Brazil although they’ll have to navigate the toughest group in the competition. AC Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari is the driving force in the Ghana engine room and combined with Michael Essien the African’s have plenty of power in the middle of the pitch. If former Sunderland striker and national captain Asamoah Gyan can put the ball in the back of the net on a regular basis then Ghana could be a team to look out for once more in Brazil – potentially at the expense of the more fancied Germany or Portugal.

USA

Best Finish – Third Place (1930)

Odds – 150/1

After a moderately successful World Cup in 2010 the United States would gladly take a repeat of their last 16 finish this summer in Brazil. Former Germany manager Jurgen Klinsmann is the man tasked with getting the best out of this USA squad, although he has come in for a fair amount of criticism for his decision to drop accomplished forward Landon Donovan. With Donovan absent former Fulham and Tottenham midfielder Clint Dempsey will be tasked with scoring the goals to take the USA through to the knockout stages once more, with Sunderland striker Jozy Altidore another option in attack for Klinsmann. The United States will likely be difficult to break down and if Dempsey and Altidore can put their Premier League pedigree to good effect their chances of progressing from Group G may not be as slim as they appear.

Fixtures

Germany v Portugal – 16th June, Salvador (17.00 GMT)

Ghana v USA – 16th June, Natal (23.00 GMT)

Germany v Ghana – 21st June, Fortaleza (20.00 GMT)

USA v Portugal – 22nd June, Manaus (23.00 GMT)

USA v Germany – 26th June, Recife (17.00 GMT)

Portugal v Ghana – 26th June, Brasilia (17.00 GMT)

Who do you think will progress from this summer’s “Group of Death”?  Can Cristiano Ronaldo lead Portugal to a first World Cup triumph? Have your say in the comments or tweet @fredjstanley

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