2014 FIFA World Cup – Group G
Thursday, June 12 – Sunday, July 13, 2014
Host Nation: Brazil
Defending Champion: Spain
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker
While the United States has one of their best soccer teams ever, the draw for the 2014 World Cup did them no favors. They ended up in what many consider the so called “Group of Death” with Germany, Portugal, and Ghana. The US is familiar with all three teams as they have been in World Cup groups with all three in recent years.
Let’s take an in depth look at all four teams in Group G with their odds to win the Group and the World Cup with odds courtesy of Bookmaker.
Germany (-165 Group, +500 Cup)
Germany is making their 18th trip to the World Cup, and they have won it three times the last in 1990. They have also been the runner-up four times. Germany has finished third in the last two World Cups. They lost to eventual champion Spain in the semifinals before beating Uruguay in the third place game in 2010. It has been 18 years since Germany has won a major title at Euro 1996.
Germany is #2 in the current FIFA rankings. Germany easily won their UEFA qualifying group with a 9-0-1 record. The only blemish was a 4-4 draw in Stockholm against second place Sweden. Germany outscored their opponents 36-10 in qualifying.
Joachim Low is the manager for Germany. He was the top assistant under Jurgen Klinsmann when he coached Germany from 2004-2006. Klinsmann is now the coach of the United States team. Keeper Manuel Neuer was supposed to be the third string keeper in 2010, but a rib injury to starter Rene Adler and the tragic death of back-up Robert Enke led to an unexpected starting spot for Neuer. Now, four years later the 27 year old Neuer is one of the best keepers in the world. A trio of brilliant young midfielders top the scoring options. Mesut Ozil had 5 goals and 10 assists during qualifying. Marco Reus had 7 goals and 5 assists. Mario Gotze had 5 goals and 5 assists. Thomas Muller scored 5 goals for Germany in the 2010 World Cup and won the Golden Boot award. Veterans Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger complement the young kids. Lahm might move from fullback to defensive midfielder to shore up a back line depleted by injury.
Germany opens up with Portugal, before facing Ghana and closing with Klinsmann and the US team. It won’t be easy but Germany should win this group. The winner of Group G will face the runner up in Group H which consists of Belgium, Russia, Algeria and South Korea. There is no reason to expect anything less than a semifinal berth. Germany even has a good shot of becoming the first European team to win a World Cup in the Western Hemisphere in eight tries.
Portugal (+245 group, +3000 Cup)
Portugal is playing in their sixth World Cup and third straight. They finished third in 1966 and fourth in 2006. Portugal lost 1-0 to Iberian rival and eventual champion Spain in the round of 16 in 2010.
Portugal went 6-3-1 in qualifying and finished second behind group winner Russia. Portugal beat Sweden 4-2 on aggregate in a two leg playoff to qualify for Brazil. Cristiano Ronaldo scored all four goals for Portugal including a hat trick in the second leg. Portugal scored 20 goals in qualifying and conceded 9. Portugal is currently #4 in the FIFA rankings.
Paulo Bento is the manager for Portugal. He took over after the 2010 World Cup. Ronaldo is easily one of the top five players in the world and he might be the best. However, he has battled a knee injury. He missed a friendly against Mexico a couple of weeks ago, and earlier this week left a training session early. He is expected to play but we don’t know how effective he will be. Joao Moutinho and Nani could find open space if defenses key on Ronaldo. Pepe, Bruno Alves, Joao Pereira and Fabio Coentrao man a strong backline. Pepe is nursing a calf injury and could miss a game or two. Rui Patricio is a quality keeper.
Without a healthy Ronaldo or Pepe, Portugal could be in trouble in this tough group. Portugal opens with Germany, before facing the United States and closing with Ghana. Portugal has a tendency to underachieve and I think they narrowly miss out on a knockout round berth.
United States (+1015 Group, +20000 Cup)
The United States is making their 10th over appearance and 7th overall. They finished third in the first World Cup in 1930. They also made it in 1934 and 1950. The 1950 appearance was highlighted by an upset over England that is still talked about today. It would be 40 years before the US would return to the World Cup in 1990. Since then they have qualified for every World Cup, and alternated being eliminated in the group stage and going to the knockout round. In 2002, the American beat rival Mexico in the round of 16 to advance to the quarters. In 2010, the US lost to Ghana in extra time in the round of 16. It was the second straight World Cup that Ghana eliminated the US. The teams open group play against each other in this World Cup as well.
The US won the CONCACAF regional qualifying group with 22 points four clear of second place Costa Rica. The Americans lost their first qualifying game at Honduras but would go 7-0-2 for the rest of qualifying. The US scored 15 goals and conceded 8 during qualifying. USA is currently #13 in the FIFA rankings.
Klinsmann has caused some controversy during his tenure as the US manager. After the loss to Honduras many questioned if the team was overtrained. Klinsmann wasn’t afraid to juggle line-ups and adjust if something wasn’t working. His biggest controversy came when he left Landon Donovon off the final 23 man roster for the World Cup saying Donovon was “a step slow” Forwards Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey are quality strikers who have the potential to score at anytime. Michael Bradley is one of the best midfielders in the world. Keeper Tim Howard recently passed 100 caps as the goalkeeper for the Americans. He is still a strong keeper.
With the injury concerns for Portugal and Germany, it isn’t out of the question that the United States could escape the group of death and make the knockout round for the second straight World Cup. However, they have to beat a tough Ghana team in the first game in order to have a shot. I think they do that and they have a chance against likely Group H winner Belgium. Anything beyond a surprise quarterfinal berth against possibly Argentina would be asking a lot.
Ghana (+1015 Group, +24000 Cup)
Ghana is making their third straight appearance in the World Cup, making to the round of 16 in 2006 and the quarters in 2010, beating the US in the round of 16 2-1. Ghana would lose on penalties to Uruguay in the quarters.
Ghana is #37 in the FIFA rankings. Ghana went 9-2 in qualifying in Africa. The final group came down to the last game against Zambia. Ghana won at home to clinch a berth in a two leg playoff against Egypt. Ghana mummified Egypt 6-1 in the first leg and lost 2-1 in Cairo. Ghana advanced to the Cup 7-3 on aggregate.
James Kwesi Appiah is the manager for Ghana. he took over last year. Veterans Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari headline one of the strongest midfields in the world. Andre Ayew, Kwadwo Asamoah and Kevin-Prince Boateng are young but talented. Forward Asamoah Gyan led the team in scoring during qualifying. He missed a penalty kick in extra time against Uruguay that would have sent Ghana into the semifinals in 2010. Fatau Dauda has been the keeper for almost a year now.
Ghana can certainly make some noise in this group as they are very talented. They are a veteran team with many players having played in all three Cups Ghana has qualified for in the last 8 years. I think they give a game effort but I don’t see them making it out of the group stage.
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