It’s time to preview the Group of Death in World Cup 2014, Group G. In this group, we have Germany, the #2 team in the world who is stacked at every level. We have Portugal, who is one of the two best players in the world, if not the best. There’s Ghana, who has seen more success than any other African nation in the past two cups. And then there’s the US, who are playing without Landon Donovan on the big stage for the first time this century. Let’s break it down some more!

German-Flag-300x200 Germany

Can’t Miss Talent

Bastian Schweinsteiger– The Germans have an embarrassment of riches in all three phases of their game, and many of them can be seen in Bayern Munich colors.  Schweinsteiger looked  unstoppable at times this past season, and he has the perfect combination of years of experience and the fact that he’s on the tail end of his prime. If he isn’t in form, there will be plenty of other Germans waiting in the wings for playing time. One of those being….

Rising Star

Mario Gotze– We mentioned above that much of the German National team plays their club ball at Bayern Munich, and Gotze is one of those players. The 21-year-old  turned heads this year, netting 10 goals in 27 appearances for Bayern, many of those being cameos from the bench. While it’s unlikely Gotze will be a regular in the starting 11, he will certainly have everything to play for when he does make it on the field. Look for him to find the back of the net once or twice in what should be a long Cup journey for Germany.

The Key for the Germans

Lost in the talk of how tough this group will be for countries like USA and Ghana is how difficult it will be for the big teams as well. Germany has no easy task in this group, and if they suffer an early slip up against Portugal, they could be playing from behind, which isn’t how Germany likes to play. Germany thrives on taking leads, then controlling the game in the midfield. While they certainly have a ton of scoring options, Germany is the weakest at the forward spot, so if they need a flurry of goals to survive, they might be out of luck.

How Far Can They Go

Make no mistake, anything short of a title will be a disappointment for Germany and their fans. Germany was upset in the semi-finals of Euro 2012, when Mario Balotelli sliced through them for two goals in a 2-0 win for Italy. Germany was on fire at the 2010 World Cup, beating England 4-1 in the second round, and Argentina 4-0 in the Quarterfinals, before running into the brick wall that was Spain in the semis. We fully expect Germany to get there and further.

Portugal-Flag Portugal

Can’t Miss Talent

Cristiano Ronaldo– Duh. Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are considered hands down the two best players in the world, but they both have one thing in common: underperforming on the world Cup Stage. Portugal scored seven goals in four matches in the 2010 World Cup, but there’s a bit of a catch there: all seven came in a win against North Korea. The other three were shutouts, and Ronaldo didn’t do much to help. However, he does have momentum on his side, having just lead Real Madrid to their first UEFA Champions League title since the 2001-2002 season.

cristiano_ronaldo_portugal_sweden_11_19_13-World-Cup-2014

Rising Star

William Carvalho- For the most part, Portugal’s squad is full of players in their mid to late 20’s, but one of the few exceptions is 22-year-old William Carvalho. Carvalho has 10 goals in club play, and while he’s only registered two starts for the Portugal national team, he has plenty of experience with their youth squad, having played on their under age team for years. Portugal won’t be depending on Carvalho to do much damage, but he has the potential to make a bit of noise if his team is looking for a spark.

The Key for the Portugese

Portugal couldn’t have asked for a much worse first draw than Germany in their opening game. They will be pushed to the limit in that one, and I think a draw is the best they can do. If they falter and get 0 points from that game, they will be playing from behind with two tough games against USA and Ghana to follow. However, if they step up and get any kind of points there, they should be in the drivers seat to lock up a Top 2 spot.

How Far Can They Go

Even though Portugal is #3 in the world, they will still only go as far as Cristiano Ronaldo will take them, and he’s certainly capable of taking them far. Even though it’s a tough group, they should get out of it, but they won’t have the easiest of draws from there. A second place showing here would likely mean a matchup with upstart Belgium, and they wouldn’t be thrilled to play Russia either. Simply put, I don’t think that top to bottom, this team is capable of making it to the Finals. The semis seem to be the ceiling for me, but Ronaldo can do amazing things on the pitch, so I wouldn’t count them out of any game.

Ghana_Flag Ghana

Can’t Miss Talent

Michael Essien– Yes Essien isn’t the player he once was, but he is still the most famous and probably still the best Ghanian footballer in the world. Not only that, but Essien will be itching to get back on the World Cup stage after missing the 2010 edition with a knee injury. The 31-year-old, who now plays his club football in Milan, is one of the most famous faces on the planet, and will serve as the veteran leader for a team that lacks experience on the big stage.

Rising Star

Kevin Prince Boateng– Once again, I’m taking a bit of liberty with the rising star title, but I do so because Boateng is clearly the best player on the team outside of Essien, and at this point in their respective careers, you’d have an easy argument saying Boateng is more effective.  Boateng joined the Ghana national team in 2010, and scored a crucial goal in the team’s 2-1 second round victory over the US. He will once again need to serve as a source of constant offense for the African side if they want to make it out of the Group of Death.

The Key for the Ghanians

You can probably guess it by now: it’s the team’s opening game against the USA. If Ghana loses this game, it will be nearly impossible for them to make it out of the group, with dates against the #2 and #3 teams in the world to follow. Ghana won’t shy away from the big stage. They made the Quarterfinals in 2010, and were it not for a missed penalty at the end of extra time against Uruguay, they would have made it to the semi-finals. Ghana will be anything but a walkover in this stacked group.

How Far Can They Go

Ghana may not be legitimate title contenders, but look for them to make some noise. The African nations have produced some of the best players in the world over the past decade, but they have horribly underperformed at the actual World Cup. The one exception to this has been Ghana, which is why they have a fighting chance in this group. However, it doesn’t seem like a team that will be making any noise after the Quarterfinal stage.

us-flag-flat United States

Can’t Miss Talent

Clint Dempsey- When all is said and done, Dempsey will likely go down as the greatest US soccer player of all time, at least for now. Dempsey recently left the Premiere League to be the star for the Seattle Sounders, and while it may affect his game in a negative way, he is certainly the most notable name on the roster. With Landon Donovan not making the team, Dempsey will be relied on even more to provide a veteran spark when his team needs it.

clint-dempsey-us-national-team-roster

Rising Star

Julian Green– It’s very possible that this youngster took the 23rd and final spot on the roster, leaving Donovan as the odd man out. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann clearly had 2018 on his mind with this decision, wanting to give the 18-year-old Bayern Munich prodigy some experience on the big stage. Green only has one international appearance under his belt, but he will have to grow up quick when he is inevitably subbed in late in a game to provide a spark for his team.

The Key for the Americans

For me, the Ghana game is the key to the group for the US. Ghana has defeated the US in the last two World Cups,  doing so in the second round in 2010. The USA relish the underdog role, which is why I’m not too concerned with their ability to get a point, or even three, against the likes of Germany and Portugal. It’s when they are at an even level or favorites that they tend to fall, and they can’t afford to do that in their opener against Ghana. When you are stuck in the group of death, you have to maxmize your points against the weaker team in the group, which is Ghana in this case.

How Far Can They Go

Can the US make it out of the group stage? Absolutely. Is it likely? Probably more than you would think. Portugal is widely considered one of the better teams in the world, currently holding the #3 ranking in the world, but in qualifying they often looked like a one man team, that one man being Ronaldo of course. The US won’t be short on motivation when it comes to these three games, having bones to pick with all three. If they are able to make it out, they will probably face Belgium in the next round, one of the most popular darkhorses in the field. A trip to the Quarterfinals would be considered a success, but in all likelihood, the Yanks will be bowing out before then.

Final Group Prediction

1. Germany

2. Portugal

3. USA

4. Ghana

What do you think of our predictions? Can the USA make it out of this group? Will the Germans get all nine points in this group? Let us know in the comments!

Miss any of our other previews, check them out below!

Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D

Group E

Group F