Touted by many as the alternate ‘Group of Death’ to Group D, which consists of Uruguay, Italy and England, Group G will be among the most fiercely contested groups in the early stages of the World Cup. Consisting of Germany, Portugal, Ghana and the USA, Group G will be among the ones to watch out for in terms of competition.
Among the teams in the group, only Germany have tasted FIFA World Cup success; on three occasions. Portugal have always flattered to deceive, Ghana have emerged on the football map only recently, while the USA have never really threatened the big boys of world football.
|13||16th June 2014||Germany vs Portugal||17:00||Arena Fonta Nova, Salvador|
|14||16th June 2014||Ghana vs USA||23:00||Arena das Dunas, Natal|
|29||22nd June 2014||Germany vs Ghana||20:00||Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza|
|30||22nd June 2014||USA vs Portugal||23:00||Arena Amazônia, Manaus|
|45||26th June 2014||USA vs Germany||17:00||Arena Pernambuco, Recife|
|46||26th June 2014||Portugal vs Ghana||17:00||Estadio Nacional, Brasilia|
The matches of Group G will be held at 6 different venues.
Estadio Castelao, at Forteleza is at mean sea level but the temperatures there peak up to 32 degrees celsius. Coupled with that are the nearby coasts, therefore we could expect potential rains and strong winds.
Arena Pernambuco, in Recife is a dangerous arena with the city averaging 224 days of rain a year, and the months of June and July being the wettest. The humidity in this region is high during these months, which will make the players’ job very tough, and bodies will have to be in perfect shape.
Arena Amazonia in Manaus follows suit with wet conditions and a 40% chance of thunderstorms and expected humidity up to 80 %. Located in the Amazon Rainforest region, Manaus is far away from most teams’ bases for the World Cup, and the travel and humidity are bound to sap the energy out of the players.
Estadio das Dunas, in Natal is the most punishing arena with an average humidity of 97% in the middle of June. This could result in a lot of tiring and frequent drink breaks, with Ghana and USA upon whom this arena is thrust.
Estadio Nacional in Brasiilia will be among the more comfortable stadiums to play in, especially for the European teams. Mean temoeratures in June ar around 27-29 degrees celsius, but humidity levels could be a concern. In late June, when Group G’s Brasilia match is scheduled to be held, humidity levels average in excess of 90%. Therefore again, tiring and frequent breaks can be expected.
Arena Fonta Nova in Salvador is a typical Brazilian venue, with temperatures averaging around 29 degrees celsius, and humidity levels ranging from 75-85%, on an average, in June. With two Europen sides playing in Salvador, Germany and Portugal could have a tough time, especially with that match being both teams’ first in the tournament.
Being the recent underachievers of international football, Germany have failed to halt Spain’s dominance despite being rated as one of the strongest teams in the world. Losing 1-0 in the Euro 2008 final and in the 2010 semi-final of the World Cup to eventual champions Spain, the German squad, symbolic of efficiency, has been consistently halted by the European juggernaut.
Coach Joachim Loew’s squad cruised in their qualification, remaining undefeated and scoring 36 goals in 10 games. Regardless of the onslaught, the German fans are pessimistic about Die Nationalmannschaft’s chances, as the team’s recent endeavours have failed to live up to expectations. But qualifying for the knockout stage is almost inevitable, despite being in a difficult group.
They have among the most balanced squads in the tournament, with a perfect blend of youth and experience, and how Joechim Loew handles the squad will decide how they perform in the tournament. The injury to Marco Reus will no doubt weaken the Germans, but if there in one team in the tournament capable of handling the no-show of player of the calibre of Reus, it is Die Mannschaft. Loew’s squad is a mix of extremely talented youngsters and some big-names who have what it takes to shine in the penultimate stage of the tournament. Germany’s record scorer, Miroslav Klose, has also been included to support striker Lukas Podolski.
FIFA Ranking: 2
Key Player : Julian Draxler
For more information, read Germany Team Preview
Paulo Bento’s Portugal had to go through an immense struggle to reach Brazil as a two-legged playoff against Sweden could have gone either way, if it wasn’t for star player Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored four goals in the two games.
Captain and record scorer Ronaldo will be the obvious player under the spotlight, as the Ballon d’Or winning Real Madrid superstar is expected to carry the weight of his country on his back. Ronaldo will be looking at the Argentina squad of 1986 for inspiration, which was led to triumph singlehandedly by Diego Maradona, to guide his team in similar fashion to their first World Cup.
Other key players for Portugal include Real Madrid’s Pepe and the midfield duo of Raul Meireles and Joao Moutinho.
FIFA Ranking: 4
Key Player : Cristiano Ronaldo
For more information, read Portugal Team Preview.
United States of America
The Americans have achieved their best performance of the World Cup when they finished third in the tournament’s first edition in 1930. Qualifying for every World Cup since 1990, Jurgen Klinsmann leads a buoyant USMNT to Brazil and faces the daunting prospect of facing his own nation and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The US will do extremely well to get out of the group stage, and their hopes will rest on the likes of Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey in the absence of long time star Landon Donovan. In defense, Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron and Everton Goalkeeper Tim Howard will have huge roles to play.
FIFA Ranking: 13
Key Player : Landon Donovan
For more information, read USA Team Preview
“The Black Stars” have been Africa’s sole light in the last two editions of the FIFA World Cup. They were denied in 2006 by the brilliance of Brazil in the Round of 16, while they went one better in 2010, when they were cruelly denied by the Hand of Luis Suarez, and a missed penalty by Asamoah Gyan that followed. Pitted against two European powerhouses, the four-time African Cup of Nations winners can consider it an achievement to even reach the knockout stage of the tournament. Ghana’s performances in the Africa Cup of Nations have been below par, and they will hope for a strong showing in Brazil.
Ghana are in relatively good form, winning five of their six matches in qualifiers and being the top scorers from Africa with 25 goals. The experienced team will welcome back AC Milan holding midfielder Michael Essien, who will be crucial for the team’s success. Kevin-Prince Boateng will play the vital role of carrying his team in an extremely difficult group. The former Tottenham Hostpurs man has been involved in controversies, but the flair he brings on the pitch makes him the exciting player he is.
FIFA Ranking: 37
Key Player : Asamoah Gyan
For more information, read Ghana Team Preview
Germany vs Portugal
This is a game that could well decide who tops the group. WIth Portugal likely to receive a boost with Ronaldo’s return from injury and Germany receiving a blow with Reus’ injury, the teams start on a slightly even field. Especially with it being the first game of the tournament for both sides, it might be a dull, cagey affair. But that is not how Loew sets his teams out. So one can only hope for an open, free-flowing game of attacking football.
Portugal vs Ghana
The last game in this group. One would expect that, by this time, Germany would have wrapped up top spot in the group. So, this game might well be a virtual knockout game, with the loser bowing out of the tournament.
One would expect Germany to top this group, by winning all their three games, and I tip Portugal to pip Ghana to the second qualifiction spot. So, even though, this is an alternate ‘Group of Death’, I expect the results to be pretty straight-forward, with the fancied teams progressing to the next round.
Group G can produce some cracking encounters as four well-equipped squads will battle it out to reach the knockout stage. But there is a realistic prediction that can be made on who is most likely to qualify. Germany will definitely be the favourites, followed closely by the Ronaldo-led Portugal.
Ghana and the US both have commendable squads of experienced players and a history of recently successful campaigns in the World Cup backing them to cause an upset against the two European giants, but only time will tell if they can shock the football world.