I know many of our readers are rooting for the United States in this World Cup, but they got royally screwed on this draw. There are a couple of tough groups in this tournament, but this one takes the cake for the USMNT. In what could have been a “Next Level” cup for this team, they got stuck with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Ghana is probably the easiest team for the US to take on, but the African nation has eliminated the US from the last two cups. Go figure.
National Anthem: Das Deutschlandlied
Coach: Joachim Low
Best Showing at A World Cup: Winners – 1954, 1974 and 1990
This is the time on sprockets when we dance. Come on, I had to. Ze Germans are always a threat to win the whole thing, no matter what group they’re in. They got put into a tough one this time, but they have plenty of talent, and I don’t think there’s any question that they will advance to the round of 16. They made it to the semis last year, where they were defeated by Holland, but rebounded to just edge Uruguay in the third place game. As the number two ranked team in the world, they enter this cup with a very good chance to bring home Germany’s fourth World Cup championship, and their first since 1990.
Das Germans feature a powerful team all over the pitch. The attack is anchored by household names like Mesut Özil and Thomas Muller and soon-to-be household names Marco Reus and Mario Gotze. Özil is one of the best players in Europe, and his club record £42.5 MM transfer to Arsenal made him the most expensive German player in the world. He’s no joke. The middle of the field will be patrolled by more household names, like Bastian Schweinsteiger and key man Philipp Lahm. I wasn’t kidding when I told you this team was stacked.
The defense might be weaker than years past, but they have the firepower to overcome any shortcomings from the back of the field. Everyone grab your bier, your pretzels and and some of those good “scheisse” videos Cartman’s mom was in, cuz it’s gonna be time to party when the group stage ends.
National Anthem: A Portuguesa
Coach: Paulo Bento
Best Showing at A World Cup: Third place in 1966
All roads go through Cristiano Ronaldo. He might be naked on magazine covers and doing all sorts of other ridiculous things, but the guy knows how to play fútbol. Along with Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and a few select others, he’s in that conversation about who the best player in the world is. He can do it all on the pitch, and has the ability to carry teams to victory virtually by himself. Although he’s had some injuries of late that are probably worth looking out for, he’s the real deal.
That being said, you don’t get to be ranked number 3 in the world by only having one good player. Portugal’s game is not just a one man show; they have a couple of other guys that can do some damage too. Ronaldo is joined up front by Lazio’s Helder Postiga and Manchester United’s Nani. Those guys can ball and, although they certainly won’t pull any defenders off of Ronaldo, they can take advantage of all the attention the chosen one gets. Another guy to watch out for is notorious defender, Pepe. The Brazilian born Pepe has a surly reputation and his career is riddled with suspensions for kicking and stomping players, and other suspicious incidents where he probably purposefully stomped and kicked players. Maybe a return to his home turf will send him on an emotional rollercoaster that will finally lead to him snap and kill somebody. Who knows?
In 1500, Portuguese explorer, and all around nice guy, Pedro Álvares Cabral hit the shores of Brazil and claimed the land for Portugal. Unbeknownst to him, he and his crew brought over diseases–like measles, smallpox, tuberculosis, gonorrhea and influenza–that killed thousands of their new home’s indigenous peoples. Fortunately for him, that made Portugal’s colonization efforts a whole lot easier. Guess what? They’re here to to rain down pestilence and domination again 514 years later–especially the gonorrhea (looking at you, Cristiano)– and frankly, I think It’s about time… What, too soon?
National Anthem: God Bless Our Homeland Ghana
Coach: James Kwesi Appiah
Best Showing at A World Cup: Quarter-Finals in 2010
I always feel a little bad when I talk about Ghana. In 2010, a timely handball by Luis Súarez, a missed penalty kick by Asamoah Gyan and a ridiculous chip kick by Sebastían “El Loco” Abreu combined to boot Ghana from the quarter-finals. I only feel a little bad because that was the greatest win Uruguay has ever had in my lifetime. Ghana is back in the tournament this year, and ready to put those demons behind them for another deep run. Can they do it?
There’s no doubt in my mind that Ghana had the talent to make the semi-finals in South Africa in 2010, and they should have similar talent this year. The problem for them, like the US, is the fact that they’re in a really tough group. That being said, they have some very strong players on their squad. I know I mentioned his big miss earlier, but Gyan is an absolute beast. He scored the first ever World Cup goal for Ghana, and, at 28, he has some more left in his legs. Kevin-Prince Boateng is also back this year, and the Boateng/Gyan combination could potentially give everyone fits.
The real difference maker for Ghana, however, could be midfielder Michael Essien. Essien has been a fixture on the Ghanian national team since he was but a lad on the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Cup bronze medal winners. He represented Ghana in the 2006 World Cup and then performed brilliantly in the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations. Unfortunately, a devastating knee injury kept him out of the 2010 Cup, or Ghana might not have been in the position to miss that big penalty kick. Ghana is young and strong, and they could be a big sleeper in this group.
National Anthem: The Star Spangled Banner (courtesy of Beyonce)
Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
Best Showing at A World Cup: Third place in 1930
In case you haven’t heard, coach Jurgen Klinsmann didn’t pick Landon Donovan for the 23-man World Cup roster. We covered that on the blog, because it’s probably the biggest snub in USMNT history. We have a bigger, more in depth USMNT preview in the works, so I won’t get too detailed here. That being said, I should tell you a little something about the squad.
Because of Donovan’s snub, guys like Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore will really have to step up on the front lines if the Americans even have a sniff of a chance against the other three monsters in this group. The same thing goes for midfielder Michael Bradley and guys like DeMarcus Beasley. This team has been building for this moment for a long time, and it would be very un-American if they let a bad draw take the wind out of their sails. Did our founding fathers throw in the towel when the British drew them into a bad group (the one for all of their colonies)?? I don’t think so! Let’s go USA.
Part of me really wants to pick Ghana or the United States to somehow unseat Portugal and make it through to the next round. I know Cristiano Ronaldo is probably the best player in the world, but something about this Portugal team makes me think they’ll blow it eventually. However, I can’t really bring myself to do it. Germany and Portugal advance to the round of 16… but I’ll be oh so happy if one of them falters.
Featured image courtesy of: Thomas Bohlen/Reuters
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