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Jun 072014

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the make-up of each of the groups in this year’s World Cup is the fact that none of them are considered easy. What makes Group G interesting is the fact that Germany and Portugal should be able to qualify from that group with little or no difficulty. I mean, Ghana have a player or two, but they should be beatable, right? And the USA still have no chance, right? I mean they’re still talking about the National Football League draft, so what in the world do they know or care about events outside of the country, right?
Well, let’s take a look at the group and see.


The three time World Cup winners have one of their most talented sides coming into Brazil this time. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira are the main anchors of their midfield. Their attack will be started by Arsenal striker Mesut Ozil. Although he had an indifferent EPL season with the Gunners this season, there is no doubt that he will be ready to lead his country forward. But the key player for the Germans will be Bayern Munich’s defender Phillip Lahm. He is considered by many in the game to be the most intelligent players in the last several years. There are still some issues that coach Joachim Low will need to address as soon as possible. There is a doubt about the strike force that is usually led by Thomas Muller and Marco Reus. Reus picked up an injury in training and he has now left the squad. The defense, and specifically left-back, has some question marks as shown by the Chiliean forwards in their friendly match back in March. Both Khedira and Schweinsteiger are coming off injuries themselves and Miroslav Klose, while doing well with 14 World Cup goals, just turned 36 years old. So while most folks are picking Germany to win this group, it is not a given.
FIFA Ranking: 2


Well, this was always all about Cristiano Ronaldo. I mean, the FIFA Player of the Year is the driving force behind Real Madrid’s successful UEFA Champions’ League campaign. Surely with the likes of Pepe and Joao Moutinho giving them the strength in the middle and youngster William Caravalho a wonderful addition, they should be able to give the Germans a run for the group winner spot, right? Well, CR7 may not be able to carry his country as he carried his club. His leg injuries have forced coach Paulo Bento to leave him out of each of the Portugal friendlies in the build up to the final. Plus, historically speaking, Ronaldo hasn’t done well in the last two World Cups. While he has a point to prove this summer, he may not be able to. The other problem the Portuguese have had has been with team unity. One of the worst examples of that was back in the 2002 World Cup in South Korea. After they were beaten 2-3 by the USA, Luis Figo and the rest of the team started arguing with each other and lost to the South Koreans and failed to get out of their group. If they can manage to get over their individual egos and play as a team, they might have a chance. It all starts with CR7.
FIFA Ranking: 4


They had made it to the quarter finals in the last World Cup in South Africa. A lot of folks had been predicting that The Black Stars would be the first team from the continent of Africa to have advanced all the way to the finals. They’ve got former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien back from international exile. He was the guy who got his country into the World Cup finals when he featured in their smack down of Egypt 6-1 in the play-off match. The one player to watch for The Black Stars will be midfielder Kwando Asamoah who was one of the main guys who drove Juventus on their Italian League title-run this past season. The team are coached by former captain James Kwesi Appiah. He wasn’t the popular choice when he was picked after serving for four years as an assistant. But the “Silent Killer” may be the one thing this side needs to advance toward the prize. He doesn’t speak much and isn’t afraid to confront any of the stars in the locker-room if they’re not playing well. The one thing that has been The Black Stars’ problem in previous World Cups is scoring critical goals when needed. In the last World Cup, they had a chance to get into the final four after Uruguayan Luis Suarez was sent off for handling the ball out of the goal in the dying seconds of extra-time. But Asamosh Gyan couldn’t convert the spot-kick to win the match and Ghana went on to lose the penalty-kick shootout. Perhaps if the team were to find a way to change their luck (don’t use the witch-doctor who claims to have cursed CR7), they might just make a good hard run at lifting the trophy.
FIFA Ranking: 37

United States of America

Team America (F*** Yeah!!) are a long shot to get out of this group. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann stirred up some controversy this week when he told the USA press that he didn’t expect his side to win the cup. He was already in trouble for not picking Landon Donavan for the final 23 going to Brazil. But anyone who has been following the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) will have seen that Klinsmann, more than any other coach for the USMNT is looking beyond this World Cup and into the future of the game itself for Uncle Sam. With the absence of Donavan, the team leadership falls on the shoulders of Clint Dempsey. Since his time at Tottenham and Fulham, he has come home to play for the Seattle Sounders in the MLS. Since coming home, he has been the spark that has lifted the Sounders to the top of the Western Conference table. The one question for Klinsmann continues to be the USA defense. In the friendly against Turkey, he started DeMarcus Beasley and Alejandro Bedoya in defense, but replaced them with Timmy Chandler and Brad Davis. It was Davis who got caught napping toward the end of the match as the Turks stole the ball from him to score their only goal in the 2-1 result. But if anyone can figure out how to get Uncle Sam’s boys moving in the right direction, it’s Kinsmann. Who knows, if he pulls off the impossible, he might be mentioned with other great American heroes like Vince Lombardi, Tommy Lasorta, and Billy Martin. C’MON YOU YANKS!!!
FIFA Ranking: 13

Lanny Short

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