Teams: Germany (UEFA), Portugal (UEFA), Ghana (CAF), United States (CONCACAF) Although Germany is the clear favorite in this Group of Death, they will not have an easy time of it, with the other three teams having both enough strengths to finish second and enough weaknesses to finish last. Germany: A semifinalist at the past three World Cups, and a quarterfinalist at every single World Cup since WWII, they are the clear favorites in the group. That said, they are not invincible, and have dropped points in the group stage of each of the past two non-European World Cups, drawing with Ireland 1-1 in 2002, and losing to Serbia 1-0 in 2010. This time around, the team is characterized by a plethora of attacking midfielders but no obvious striker, and an apparently solid defense that somehow managed to concede seven goals in their two qualifying matches against Sweden. Should win the group, but given the strength of the other three teams, there is no margin for error. Portugal: A team whose reputation seems to be greater than their results, they possess arguably the best player in the game in Cristiano Ronaldo, but not much else. They knocked seven past North Korea at World Cup 2010 but failed to score in their other three matches, and might very well be sitting at home right now if it wasn't for Ronaldo's superhuman performance in the playoff against Sweden. Their problem is the fact that the team has become too reliant on Ronaldo, and struggles to score against top-quality opposition when he is not in form. It should be noted that despite his heroics against Sweden, Ronaldo has scored only two goals in ten World Cup matches (a PK in 2006 against Iran, and the 7th goal in the 7-0 rout of North Korea in 2010), and scored only four goals in qualifying (a hat trick away to Northern Ireland, and a single goal against Luxembourg). If they are to advance, Ronaldo is going to have to play like he did against Sweden, and the rest of the squad is going to have to raise their game as well. Ghana: The only African team to advance to the group stages in both 2006 and 2010, it may be asking a lot of them to make it three times in a row, especially given that they had the assistance of a few favorable refereeing decisions during the group stages in both 2006 (the very questionable PK awarded in the match against the US) and 2010 (the PK that should have been, but was not, awarded to Serbia in their match against Australia). It should also be noted that this Ghana team appears to be a bit weaker than the 2006 and 2010 versions, having failed to beat a non-African team since WC 2010 and having been eliminated by the likes of Zambia and Burkina Faso at the last two African Nations Cups. They are the consensus best team in Africa at the moment, but given the weakness of African nations at the past two World Cups, that may not mean all that much. United States: Revitalized under the leadership of Jurgen Klinsmann, they dominated CONCACAF qualifying and have show in the past that they can hold their own against the big boys, having beaten Portgual and outplayed Germany at WC 2002, drawn against eventual World Champions Italy at WC 2006 despite playing the second half down a man, and drawn against England at WC 2010. That said, the team suffers from a strong tendency to give up early goals (5th minute against the Czechs, 22nd minute against Italy, 21st minute against Ghana at WC 2006; 4th minute against England, 22nd minute against Slovenia, and 5th minute against Ghana at WC 2010). Add to that the fact that they will be starting two center-backs who are World Cup virgins, and they potential for an early implosion is definitely there. However, their attacking play is very strong, led by World Cup veterans Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, and if they can survive the first half hour of matches unscathed, their superior fitness should help them to dominate the latter parts of matches. Have a favorable schedule, with Ghana proving the least dangerous of their three possible opening match opponents, followed by Portugal in the jungles of Manaus (where their fitness will give them an advantage), followed by the final game against a German team which may already have clinched a place in the knockout rounds.