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Group G is wide open.

With Ghana drawing Germany 2-2, any team in the group with a win and a draw could advance to the round of 16 based on point differential. After Portugal’s embarrassing 4-0 loss against Germany in their first game, they had almost no hope left, but with Germany only gaining a point against a ruthlessly counterattacking Ghana, they’re still alive.

Portugal is going to come out swinging.

There isn’t much the US will be able to do to keep Portugal out of the net. Even with his bum knee, I’m guessing one goal from CR7, and another from a supporting player like Nani. I don’t think the Americans are going to sit back and Portugal dominate possession like they did against Ghana. This will, unfortunately, set up the Portuguese for quite a few likely counters, but…

SCRAPPINESS WILL PREVAIL.

Portugal’s defense is reeling right now. Pepe will be serving his red card, Fabio Coentrão and Hugo Almeida are out with injuries, the team looks tired. The US is going to have a lot on its hands in the midfield, but if they can get the ball forward they’ll have more than enough chances to bury 2-3 goals.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Cristiano Ronaldo
This is what we’re up against, people. (Flickr)

Limping Beauty – Cristiano Ronaldo may have a nagging knee injury, but that man, that beautiful man, can still play circles around 99% of the soccer players in the world. He played the full 90 against Germany, and while he didn’t score, he’ll be foaming at the mouth on Sunday. Fabian Johnson will be covering him the majority of the game, and while Fabian has the speed, his tendency to dive in might get him in trouble.

Pinkman – Coming off a horrible game against Ghana, Michael Bradley is going to have to make amends. His atrocious passing cannot continue. If it does, Portugal will take immediate advantage, stealing the ball and countering quickly, probably with Nani up the right. The US needs to maintain possession and keep the ball away from CR7’s feet.

NananananiNani is fast. Super fast. You saw how DaMarcus Beasley got torched in the Ghana match? The same thing could happen Sunday. Nani can get around Beasley and go straight to the goal, pulling a central defender over to cover, and then send a cross to CR7 at the back post. I won’t be surprised if Timmy Chandler shows up instead.

Johannsson or Wondolowski? – Altidore is out with an injury, so it’ll be interesting to see who coach Jurgen puts in his place. Aron Johannsson came in as a replacement against Ghana but was useless. Wondo could be the spark up top that tips the balance toward the US side.

Fitness – The US team looks fit. As long as they stay hydrated and stretch out their hammies, I truly believe that their legs can outlast a Portugal side whose players finished European competition just weeks before the cup started.

Featured image courtesy of: football2014wc.com

Captain Hatch

About Captain Hatch

A typically ignorant, selfish American. Initially reluctant to get into football, Captain Hatch was eventually convinced that his only path to salvation was on the pitch.

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