The fifth day of the 2014 World Cup brings us one of its biggest matches as Germany and Portugal go head to head in a battle for Group G supremacy, followed by Ghana and the United States completing the picture in that group, while residue from Group F – Iran playing against Nigeria, also takes place.
But all eyes will be on the first match of the day which also opens the tournament in Group G. Portugal don’t usually do too well in the World Cup, and the expectations from them are mixed. Yes, they have Cristiano Ronaldo who was the best player in Europe this past season, but is his supporting crew enough, not to mention he is probably a little bit more injured than anyone is letting on?
On paper Germany are the best team in this World Cup. Miroslav Klose has a chance of becoming the top scorer in World Cup history with his next two goals. The attacking midfield is packed with young talent, although the previous injury to Bastian Schweinsteiger, the team’s most important player in the midfield, has to be worrying for Joachim Low, who doesn’t have many options when it comes to his central and defensive midfielders.
Portugal play the counter attack. There’s nothing else they can actually do to make themselves equal to a German squad that is better than them at everything except when it comes to Ronaldo himself. However, playing too defensively and giving Ronaldo too central of a role has hurt Portugal in the past, and it remains to be seen if Paulo Bento has learned from the disappointing qualifying campaign.
Nigeria and Iran aren’t exactly World Class teams, but with Argentina opening the tournament with a win, suddenly the second place looks a bit easier to reach, with Bosnia put in a difficult spot. The harmony and unity of last year’s triumphant tournament that brought Nigeria their first title in 19 years are gone. Arguments over payments and bonuses while the usual ego battles behind the scenes aim to derail a very talented side, mixed with experience and talent up front.
Iran are a big unknown. Most of the squad plays its football in the Iranian league, so it’s not hard to spot the players actually being relied on to make a difference. There is Javad Nekounam who plays for Al-Kuwait, but Ashkan Dejagah of Fulham, Reza Ghoochannejhad of Charlton and Steven Beitashour who plays in the MLS are going to be the players Iran rely on to made this World Cup performance memorable.
Nigeria have Emmanuel Emenike up front and a very quick and dangerous trio behind him, likely comprised of Victor Moses, Ahmed Musa and Peter Odemwingie. Like with most African teams, the ability of their defense to not mess things up will be the most crucial for them in their road ahead.
And we continue with African teams as Ghana, who had a fantastic tournament four years ago, almost making it to the semifinals, open this tournament against a team they knocked out in the round of 16, the United States. In the match that closes the day, Jurgen Klinsmann will hope that his tactics of trying to take away all the pressure from his players by removing expectations will work.
Ghana are a young side with only one player, Michael Essien, above the age of 29. Asamoah Gyan still leads their attack despite not playing in one of Europe’s big leagues anymore. The Ayew brothers, Andre and Jordan, will probably play a bigger part in this tournament, while Kevin-Prince Boateng and Christian Atsu will be expected to cause a lot of problems to the American side.
For the United State, Clint Dempsey is in the role of the leader now that Donovan is gone. Jozy Altidore will try to forget about the awful season he had in the Premier Leagueas other youngsters like Aron Johannsson and maybe even 19 year old Julian Green will try to provide some spark to a side that is very disciplined and performs well tactically, but lacks a certain amount of flair and creativity.