The four teams of Group G provide a multitude of different stories that will be played out in three rounds of games. Former Germany Coach Jurgen Klinsmann is preparing to face his country with the United States, brothers Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng will be in opposition when Germany meet Ghana, and Cristiano Ronaldo can bathe in even more of the spotlight than he does for Real Madrid.
For Germany, it’s another chance for a fine generation of players to add a prize to the plaudits. Joachim Low’s squads have been lauded for playing stylish and vibrant football but a runners-up berth at Euro 2008 is the best of the tangible rewards to show – and that was six years ago.
A World Cup and another European Championships have been and gone in that time and Die Mannschaft have been left to watch Spain sweep up every trophy. And La Roja haven’t gone anywhere. They remain one of the teams to beat – along with the hosts, Brazil, and the likes of Argentina. Some observers feel Germany still fall into that category but time will tell.
Portugal meanwhile have something akin to home advantage on their side, despite being some 4,600 miles from Iberia. The shared language and historical connections with Brazil has been referenced more than once but may be of little help on the pitch, particularly if Ronaldo doesn’t return to fitness in time.
Paulo Bento’s side are not a one-man team but they are understandably reliant on Ronaldo. He may still need 10 other players on his side but there’s little question as to who is the leader of the pack. And yet genuine questions can be asked about Ronaldo in big games – his main contribution to the Champions League final was a last minute penalty to make it 4-1, the cherry on the icing on the cake, or the salt in the wound depending on your persuasion.
Away from the European sides and Ghana are back, four years after they were so cruelly robbed by the hands of Luis Suarez. Christian Atsu, on loan at Vitesse Arnhem from Chelsea, may be a player to watch, but it’s uncertain if the Black Stars can shine as bright as they did in 2010. The squad presents a mix of youth and experience but it’s quality that’s most important.
Klinsmann caused a stir in the States by leaving out record scorer Landon Donovan. It was taken as a sign that the former striker is preparing for World Cups to come. In Tim Howard, Michael Bradley and Aron Johansen, Team USA can call on more than reasonable pedigree, but with an unfavourable draw that might not be enough.
But as the qualifying teams will meet qualifiers from Groups H and F, when this particular Group of Death is navigated, it could be comparatively plain sailing.
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