The US Men’s National Team must have been pretty bad leading up to Christmas of 2013. After all, they got about the worst gift a soccer team could receive last December after being drawn into a group with Germany, Ghana and Portugal. Quickly dubbed the “Group of Death,” Germany and Portugal are ranked in FIFA’s top four while Ghana has knocked USA out of the last two World Cups.
This being said, it’s no wonder why head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was quick to proclaim his group “the worst of the worst.” But due to recent developments, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel for USMNT as they prepare for their opening match against Ghana. That’s because Group G has taken some big hits, most notably Germany and Portugal’s injury struggles. It’s for this reason why some believe that it’s a toss-up between Group B and Group D for the current 2014 World Cup Group of Death.
So what’s changed from December until now, just one day before the Cup begins? To answer this question, let’s take a look at some updated Group G previews.
Germany – Ranked second in FIFA’s rankings and favored by some to usurp Spain as the new World Cup champions, Germany suffered a huge blow when midfielder Marco Reus tore a ligament in his left ankle. The injury comes at a terrible time to Germany’s 2012 Footballer of the Year since he won’t play a single minute in Brazil. This team has loads of talent so don’t be surprised if Germany still wins Group G and advances far in the tournament. However, the loss of Reus is puts a chink in Germany’s seemingly impenetrable armor.
Ghana – There are no major injuries to report from Ghana’s side. And this is certainly a formidable team, as they showed in 2010 by making it to the Cup quarterfinals. But then again, this is no Germany…they’re not even the top squad in Africa. No, that honor would belong to 2013 African Nations Cup champ Nigeria, which the US beat 2-1 a few days ago. USA will have to watch out for Ghana’s strong midfield, led by their star player, Kwadwo Asamoah. But overall, this is definitely a beatable team.
Portugal – The Portuguese have one advantage in this tournament that other teams just can’t match – Cristiano Ronaldo, the world’s best player. At times, Ronaldo carries this squad, as he showed by scoring three goals in a World Cup-qualifying playoff match against Sweden. The Real Madrid striker is coming into the Cup with left patellar tendinosis – a injury that features weak collagenous fibers in a tendon. Long story short, Ronaldo risks further injury to his ailing knee every second that he’s on the pitch in Brazil.
USA – Okay, so this article is overly pro-USA, so let’s look at what the Americans have to deal with. This team is considered very much a wild card in Group G since Klinsmann kept a lot of younger players on the 23-man roster. So inexperience could be a major issue with some of the American substitutes. Of course, there’s also the whole thing about Klinsmann thinking that his team has no chance to win the Cup. We don’t totally disagree with him on this assessment. However, with strong leaders like midfielder Michael Bradley and striker Clint Dempsey, USMNT does look like they at least have an opportunity to advance out of Group G.