One of the toughest looking groups at this summer’s World Cup is Group G, where the USA have been drawn against Ghana, Portugal and Germany.
USMNT boss Jurgen Klinsmann has been drawn against countrymen Germany, having been their head coach for two years from 2004-2006. Klinsmann is already taking a high amount of criticism for insisting that the side cannot win the World Cup, a statement seen as inappropriate for the national team manager to make.
Whilst it is widely believed that the USA will struggle to qualify from the group, never mind win the tournament, a country with such immense pride is still reeling from the admission from their coach. This comes after Klinsmann faced a huge backlash for not selecting record goalscorer Landon Donovan for the tournament in Brazil.
The popular LA Galaxy hit-man has scored 57 goals for his country and boasts the kind of experience that is vital in major competitions. 32-year-old Donovan is also just eight games behind Cobi Jones’ record of 164 games for his country. The USMNT will instead be relying on captain Clint Dempsey and Sunderland striker Jozy Altidore to provide the goods for them this summer.
2010 quarter-finalist Ghana join USA in Group G and will - like the Americans - have an uphill struggle to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition. The Black Stars are competing in only their third World Cup but were one of the star teams in 2010, reaching the quarterfinals only to be knocked out by Uruguay in a game best remembered for Luis Suarez’s handball on the line. That prevented Ghana taking the lead late on and Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting spot kick which - if scored - would have put Ghana into the semifinals.
This year the squad, which is very talented, heads to Brazil knowing they will have to pull of a shock to progress from the group. Former Sunderland man Gyan captains the side and will be hopeful of being part of some exciting football alongside the likes of Schalke’s Kevin-Prince Boateng and Middlesbrough winger Albert Adomah. Former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien is also in the side, along with Juventus wide man Kwadwo Asamoah. But it will be difficult for the African side from the first whistle.
Three-time World Cup winners Germany are among the favorites to win the tournament, despite being hit by an injury to wide man Marco Reus. Joachim Low leads a multi-talented squad in Brazil and will be looking to make it fourth time lucky as head coach having led Germany in Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 without success.
The side boasts brilliant players from back to front and some exciting names include Mario Gotze, Julian Draxler, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos. Arsenal trio Per Mertesacker, Mesut Özil and Lukas Podolski also make the squad.
It has been 24 years since the Germans last won the World Cup - at Italia ’90 - and they had done so that year as West Germany under the leadership of Franz Beckenbauer, and this year’s squad will be looking to immortalize themselves. They go into the tournament as the second best team in the world - according to official FIFA rankings - and it isn’t unreasonable to believe that they could go all the way.
FIFA World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal complete the line up in Group G. Ronaldo almost single-handedly ensured that Portugal qualified for the tournament with two brilliant displays in their play-off match with Sweden. As record goalscorer and captain, Ronaldo will have the weight of expectation on his shoulders, and Portugal’s hopes probably depend on his form.
Just like Lionel Messi, Ronaldo has never reached his potential at a major international tournament. However, Portugal do have very good players besides Ronaldo. Joao Moutinho, Pepe and Fabio Coentrao are just a select few that can make the difference for them.
Portugal have never won the World Cup and it is a tournament that they know they should be looking to perform well in. But they may lack the quality throughout the squad to achieve the ultimate goal this summer.
It will be intriguing to see whether Group G finishes the way it is predicted to, or whether Ghana or USA can mount a challenge.