United States forward Clint Dempsey, right, is congratulated by forward Herculez Gomez (9) and teammates after scoring during the first half of a World Cup qualifying soccer match against Guatemala in Kansas City, Kan., Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012
This is the seventh post in a series previewing the World Cup's eight groups. Read Group A, Group B, Group C, Group D, Group E and Group F; then check back later on Friday for a look at Group H.
The 2014 World Cup's Group G is arguably the deadliest of all. Fans of the United States will be biting their nails through the group stage in hopes of reaching the tournament's knockout round — an unlikely (but not impossible) feat given the presence of a true world soccer power, not to mention one of the game's very best players and the U.S. squad's longtime nemesis.
How can the U.S. advance? Who are the group's most interesting players? Who will ultimately survive this Group of Death and move on to the knockout stage?
All that (and more!) shall be revealed right here in Mashable's 10-minute guide to Group G.
The teams (FIFA world ranking in parenthesis)
- Germany (2)
- Portugal (3)
- USA (14)
- Ghana (38)
Remember when the United States Men's National Team (USMNT) landed in one of the 2010 World Cup's easiest groups then used a stunning last-minute goal by Landon Donovan to back its way into the knockout stage? So do the soccer gods; karmic balance was restored at the 2014 World Cup draw when the USMNT landed in what is truly a worst-case-scenario group.
Hopes have been high for this American team thanks to its unusually deep crop of talent and energetic manager Jurgen Klinsmann, set to coach his first World Cup. But look! There are the Germans, one of the world's very best sides. And there's Portugal, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, who is so good at soccer his very status as a human being is questionable. Oh, and look over there — it's Ghana, the tough African team that eliminated the USMNT from both the 2010 and 2006 World Cups.
There's no shortage of fascinating storylines here. Klinsmann is a hero in his home country after leading West Germany to the 1990 World Cup championship; now he'll coach against his countrymen. Meanwhile, can Ronaldo be his usual transcendent self on the world's biggest stage? And then there's the opening USA-versus-Ghana match — kind of an elimination game in itself, because of the Portugal-Germany gauntlet each team must face after.
The schedule (all times in ET)
- Germany versus Portugal, June 16, Salvador, 12 p.m.
- Ghana versus USA, June 16, Natal, 6 p.m.
- Germany versus Ghana, June 21, Fortaleza, 3 p.m.
- USA versus Portugal, June 22, Manaus, 6 p.m.
- USA versus Germany, June 26, Recife, 12 p.m.
- Portugal versus Ghana, June 26, Brasilia, 12 p.m.
4 players to watch
Michael Bradley (USA): Clint Dempsey gets the headlines, Jozy Altidore scores many of the goals and Tim Howard stops the shots. But the aggressive midfielder Bradley really makes the American team go. The take-charge playmaker earned the nickname "General Bradley" playing in Italy's Serie A league and now suits up for Toronto FC of Major League Soccer. He'll be counted on as the USMNT tries to escape this perilous group.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal): There aren't enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe the talent of Ronaldo, who in January finally pried the FIFA Ballon d'Or trophy (awarded to world soccer's best player every year) from Lionel Messi. Portugal has other talented players, but Ronaldo is far and away their best. Behold his virtuosity in this jaw-dropping highlight compilation:
Thomas Mueller (Germany): At 24 years old, the Bayern Munich midfielder is already a bonafide star. He's a major scoring threat, finding the net five times and assisting three times at the 2010 World Cup, where he earned the tournament's best young player award. Four years older, stronger and more mature, Mueller can build on that success as Germany chases the trophy in Brazil.
Michael Essien (Ghana): An equally fearsome midfielder on offense and defense, Essien finds himself in a somewhat similar position to Argentina's Lionel Messi — a huge talent who has always performed better for club than country. Best known for his lengthy stint at Chelsea, Essien now plays for Italian giant AC Milan. Is this the year he comes through for Ghana?
Klinsmann, who cut Landon Donovan from the 2014 USA squad on Thursday, does not lack for confidence. We think he'll instill that attitude in his team and they'll pull through an extremely tough group at the expense of both Portugal and Ghana.
Of course Germany, one of the tournament's favorites, will make it through to the knockout stage — just as expected.
Tags: World Cup