World Cup 2014 - Group G: Preview & Analysis

Discussion in 'Group G: Germany, Ghana, USA, Portugal' started by mfw13, Dec 7, 2013.

  1. mfw13

    mfw13 Member

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    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.
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  2. blacksun

    blacksun Member+

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    Nice write up, and I hate nitpick, but Germany was banned from the 1950 World Cup. Ok, I lied; I love to nitpick.
  3. vancity eagle

    vancity eagle Member

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    I dont know where u r getting the idea that Ghana is weaker than in 2006 and 2010, this is by far Ghanas best and complete team, with by far their best attacking options, (their problem in the past 2 editions was lack of scoring and quality attacking.options, this has finally been rectified) other than the fact that Muntari, Essien, and Gyan are not at their prime, this Ghana edition is better in pretty much every department, except perhaps goalkeeping, which could be.an issue. Other than that Ghana has never had so much quality and depth in every other position.

    Regarding.their.lack of beating non.African.opposition since 2010, they havent played many non African teams, and often when they have they used squads which were not full. I wouldn't read too much into this, they drew 1-1 with the highly rated Chile squad, drew 1-1 with England at Wembley, and played a very tough game with Brazil losing only 1-0 despite being down a man for nearly the entire match. Believe that this Ghana team is.better than.ever.
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  4. HomietheClown

    HomietheClown BigSoccer Yellow Card

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    I have only seen Ghana in the African Nations Cup and their two legged playoff and I have come to the same conclusions for the most part. Especially the Keeper situation which is kinda weird since you follow the team more closely than I do I assume.


  5. Unak78

    Unak78 BigSoccer Supporter

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    Every team that has gotten deep in a World Cup or won a World Cup has benefited from favorable officiating. The only time people take note of this is when a unexpected team makes a run. Ghana benefited from no more calls than any other team in 2010. They earned their run in 2010 and they're ridiculously underrated right now.
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  6. zahzah

    zahzah Member+

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    In 2006 even if Ghana won a questionable penalty, then all they needed to progress was a draw. They won the game. And Ghana should have had a handball awarded vs Germany in 2010 when it was 0:0.

    Dude... Another terrible analysis.

    Since when has Ghana done well in friendlies? Have they ever won a friendly against a non-African team? Exagerating of course but since 2006 they have only won one friendly against a non-African team and that was against Latvia in 2010. Ghana do not do well in friendlies. Period.

    Did you watch the Zambia game? It was just one of those games, where the weaker team won. As for Burkina Faso: they are a vastly stronger team then most people give them credit. Not to mention a lot of Ghana's best players didn't play in 2012 and 2013.

    Ghana, if anything, is way stronger than in 2010. Much more depth, much more talent, much more options. And with Essien, Boateng back, they are also more experienced.
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  7. zahzah

    zahzah Member+

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    It should also be added that Essien didn't play for Ghana in 2010, Muntari was a substitute player in 2010 (and odds are he will be the same in 2014). Not sure if Gyan is not in his prime... He looks much fitter than in 2012 and has been a way more deadly finisher from what I;ve seen.
  8. Unak78

    Unak78 BigSoccer Supporter

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    For an entire cycle, Kevin Prince-Boateng, Jordan and Andre Ayew didn't play a single game. They only came on in the last two games of qualifying. And Ghana still qualified against a Zambia team that had recently won the Cup of African Nations and were awarded an away win in the boardroom against Sudan. This is a perfect example of why it's hard to analyze teams outside one's confederation unless you actually pay attention to what's actually going on. Ghana's circumstances were unique even by CAF standards, yet they still qualified handily and dominated a playoff with the most difficult opponent remaining which included a retiring Mohamed Aboutrika.
  9. vancity eagle

    vancity eagle Member

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    This is very true, I also remember Ghana losing their best player for the quarter.final vs Uruguay for.getting a yellow vs USA in a non existent foul. Luck goes both ways, and for.every team, it's only.mentioned when.people want to use it.to explain.away a teams success or failure. Just convenient.
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  10. zahzah

    zahzah Member+

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    Brasil also scored their second goal vs Ghana from an offside position.

    ---

    Given the focus this group has been getting, obviously the most intriguing group out there. Spain and Holland = boring.
  11. SwissGCZ

    SwissGCZ Moderator Staff Member

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    What makes you think the US has superior fitness?
  12. zahzah

    zahzah Member+

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    I for one am always astonished how they run up and down the field like jackrabbits for 90 minutes flat. The fittest team I've ever seen play.
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  13. raviept

    raviept Member

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    Very innacurate evaluation, also. A team that survives the group of death and goes to the semi final of the Euro, that reached the semi-final in 2006 and 2000, and the final in 2004 is hardly a team whose reputation is greater than the results, since most people do not rank Portugal above 8th. And coming from an English, this analysis is suspicious. Unless you say beating England and Netherlands thrice is underachieving, not to mention that Portugal only lost to big teams in major competitions: Germany, Spain, and France.

    Then, you use the speech most people that do not know the team use. Portugal is far from being at the same level as Netherlands or Belgium without Ronaldo, but it is not a one-man team. It is optimised to take full advantage of his potential, since it his by far the main offensive weapon. But Ronaldo is mostly a counter-attack player and also a winger that likes to move to the middle and shoot from outside the box. Finally, he is also a great header.

    But he is not a play maker. He needs other players to give him the ball in good conditions. People put so much emphasis on his goals against Sweden, but completely ignore the outstanding passes from Moutinho, without which Ronaldo wouldn't have been face-to-face with the Swedish goalkeeper. And you have Pepe and Coentrão, who are among the best in their respective position. Nani is clearly under-performing, but he can always show up any time.

    However, this should be an indication that it will not come down to Ronaldo's performances, but to the team's performances. Why do you think Ronaldo under-performed in 2010, for instance? Another major issue will be the weather, of course.
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  14. mfw13

    mfw13 Member

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    Watch them play and you'll see it... physical fitness is a focus of their training regimen (and always has been), and the US team tends to dominate the last 15-20 minutes of most matches they play. It wasn't just coincidence that Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey were able to make length of the field runs in the 93rd minute to score the winner against Algeria in 2010, nor that the US was able to score two goals in second half extra time to knock out Panama back in October. Quite simply, by the time the 75th minute rolls around, we've usually got a lot more gas left in the tank than our opponents do.
  15. mfw13

    mfw13 Member

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    The reason I ignored Portgual's accomplishments at the Euros in my analysis is because this tournament is not taking place in Europe, and UEFA teams tend to do significantly worse at World Cups which take place outside of Europe. So I don't think that how they have done at the Euros has any relevance to how they will perform at the World Cup.

    Now you can analyze them any way you want, but facts are facts.

    #1 - at World Cup 2010, Portugal was held scoreless in three of its four matches, against Brazil/Spain/Ivory Coast, and only scored against North Korea, the weakest team in the tournament.

    #2 - Ronaldo has scored only two goals in ten World Cup matches, a PK against Iran in 2006, and the 7th goal in the rout of North Korea.

    #3 - Even at WC 2006, which was held in Europe, Portugal scored only six goals in six matches, and only one in the three knockout round matches against Holland, England, and France.

    #4 - Portugal scored only one goal in its two matches against Russia during qualifying.

    I'll let you decide what they mean, but to me the pattern is pretty obvious....both Portugal as a team, and Ronaldo more specfically, have trouble scoring against top-quality opponents.
  16. raviept

    raviept Member

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    Because you use as argument that the Euros shouldn't be considered due to the hypothetical difficulty Portugal will have to face in a different continent, but then move on to argue that the problem is that Portugal has difficulty scoring many goals against top quality sides.

    This has nothing to do with what you said above about the weather. Focusing on this argument, I think it is fair to consider any matches whether in Euros and the WC. I would say Portugal has difficulty scoring many goals against any team that doesn't go all open in the attack. The proof is that Portugal scored 3 goals against Netherlands in the last euro while counter-attacking and 4 goals against Spain in a friendly. And you probably remember Euro 2000, where Portugal scored many goals: 3 against England and Germany, 2 against Turkey, and 1 against France.

    On the other hand, I agree that more recently any good team (it doesn't have to be a top one) that defends in a block rarely concedes many goals against Portugal. You say that this all sums up to Ronaldo. I say it has nothing to do with him, but more with two other issues with these Portuguese team: the lack of a good playmaker such as Deco or Rui costa, and a striker. This issue has been present since 2008. However, you fail to acknowledge the fact that Portugal usually also concedes few goals. Since the game is about scoring more goals than conceding, I don't see the problem.

    Maybe, you have a point when arguing that Portugal is not a serious contender for the title, but the subject of this topic is group G. Here, there is only one top quality team, which is Germany. So, according to your argument, Portugal would not have problems surviving this group. My point is that precisely because your analysis is incomplete this assessment is inaccurate. Portugal will have difficulty scoring goals against Ghana and USA, just like it did against Ivory Coast, because of the reasons I pointed above. To overcome these difficulties it will need something else other than Ronaldo. And Portugal has other weapons, which people always ignore. The real issue to me is whether those other weapons will be able to help the team.

    Another issue is related to the qualifiers. Portugal conceded a draw against Northern Ireland and Israel due to poor defensive performances. Overall, the team knows how to defend, but it makes many mistakes, especially in set pieces. However, the same was true about the previous three qualifiers for Euro 2008, WC 2010, and Euro 2012, respectively. For instance, the draw 4-4 against Cyprus should be an obvious indication of this. No one that regularly follows Portugal believes that these results are an indication of the true strength of the team.

    They could indicate that the team is inconsistent, but in the major competitions Portugal always showed a consistent defensive performance. And if you take into consideration that in 2008 and 2010 it was eliminated only by top contenders (Germany and Spain), the overall performance was not that bad for an outsider. Since this happened four times in a row, I think it is too much of a coincidence. To me, it is obvious that the problem of this team in the qualifiers is lack of concentration and motivation. But when it comes to the real deal, the players rarely make serious mistakes.

    I agree that playing in the Amazon will probably condition Portugal's performances, but don't think the results from WC 2010 have anything significant to say about this team, just because we played outside Europe. The coach at that time was ultra-defensive and still he managed to survive one of the most difficult groups, almost as hard as this one. And Portugal lost to Spain, the world champion. You cannot tell whether a different draw wouldn't have allowed Portugal to go farther in the competition.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2013
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  17. TsaiGotThis

    TsaiGotThis New Member

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    sorry to interupt... "UEFA teams tend do to significally worse at world cups outside of europe"

    well if you look at the history and results...UEFA teams make up the most of the medalists at World Cups...

    I'm american and we are screwed
  18. zahzah

    zahzah Member+

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    To an extent I agree. But no coach so far has seemed to add a different dimension to Portugal.
  19. raviept

    raviept Member

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    When you have a player like Ronaldo, it would be unwise not to take full advantage of him. And without a decent striker and a winger such as Nani in good shape, it is difficult to accomplish that, but Portugal already has shown more than that.

    Portugal didn't show much in WC 2010, so I tend to focus on the more recent performances in Euro 2012. In particular, against Denmark Ronaldo barely intervened and that was a very difficult match, similar to what we may find in this group. Still, the team managed to score 3 goals. Against Czech Republic, he acted as a striker and scored a goal with a header, but the whole build up of breaking through the wings and making crosses was made without him.

    And against Spain, similar to what happened in 2010, the team had tremendous difficulty counter-attacking, but who didn't against them. Once again, Portugal relied not on Ronaldo, but on its defensive consistency. You tend to ignore this factor, but the truth is that this consistency was much more important to recent relative successes than any particular strike of genius by Ronaldo. Before the Czech Republic match, many Portuguese complained about the fact that he always under-performed for the NT.

    However, the main hope lies in younger generations.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2013
  20. jogger

    jogger Member

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    To the OP, your analysis is terribly biased. It looks like the US is basically a better team than both Ghana & Portugal. You should have make it clear that it is from an American fan viewpoint and not a neutral one.
  21. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member

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    I repped you for this post, not because I agree with you. You are obviously writing from the perspective and with the biases of a US fan. But you had put some effort into what you wrote and it was well written and cogent.

    In my book, this group is not decided by the draw. It will be decided on the playing field. Other than Germany, which will get through to the next round, the others will have more or less an equal chance. Portugal maybe more equal than the others, but not by much.
  22. SwissGCZ

    SwissGCZ Moderator Staff Member

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    I often hear of this supposed superior fitness and athleticism, mainly from US fans. ;)

    You may have a point when it comes to Algeria and Panama. They have a number of players from the domestic league where fitness may be an area of improvement. But this group? Germany, Portugal and even Ghana all have starting players playing club football at the highest level. I for one don't see any advantage.
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  23. benztown

    benztown Member

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    I don't see that. Essien is past his prime and while Boateng has a lot of talent, his weak knee certainly doesn't help. He didn't play at all for Ghana and only every other game for his clubs. Boateng at his best certainly is a boost to almost every team, but a semi-fit player could be a detriment.

    Having said that, of course Ghana is the most feared African team and rightfully so. There is a lot of talent all around. But are they as good as in 2010? I have my doubts...
  24. benztown

    benztown Member

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    Now I don't know much about the level of fitness within the US team, but I know that Klinsmann has put fitness at the center of his 2006 World Cup preparations with Germany. He hired an entire fitness team and started years ahead to monitor all potential players, having regular fitness tests and also working towards a bigger focus for fitness at the various German clubs...some coaches were nonplussed and didn't like it at all that the national coach tried to tell them how they should do their job.
  25. zahzah

    zahzah Member+

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    Essien is past his prime - sure. But Essien didn't play for Ghana in 2010. Therefore the question is whether a Ghana side with an Essien past his prime is weaker or stronger than a Ghana side without Essien altogether. Basically the only real difference in the midfield 5 is that the players now function in different positions (Asamoah from AM to LW, Ayew from LW to RW, Boateng from CM to AM), while Inkoom (a RB pretending to be a RW) has been exchanged for Essien (CM).

    Andre Ayew and Kwadwo Asamoah are obviously much better than in 2010. And they have competition with youth players Atsu, Adomah, Waris and Wakaso vying for a spot on the wing - something they didn't have in 2010.Boateng obviously has a faulty knee, but even if he doesn't play Waris in his stead is pretty darn good and has a phenomenal understanding with Gyan.

    The RB, RW and LB options have significantly improved, while the CB is in status quo (apart from the defenders now being more experienced). The only position that I can find that is weaker is the GK position.

    The support strikers for Asamoah Gyan have markedly improved.

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    The 2014 squad mainly differs in that the players that were 20-25 in 2010 are now more experienced and mostly in their prime at 24-29 in 2014, whilst instead of a sh!te bench, they have players aged 18-24 that are similar prospects as the guys that were 20-25 in 2010.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2013

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