Groupings for the 2014 World Cup were released last December. Therefore, it’s been six whole months that the U.S. men’s national team has known that even making the round of 16 in the world’s greatest soccer tournament will be an arduous task. A look at the "Group of Death" :
Ghana will likely be the United States’ “easiest” matchup in Group G play, but you don’t have to explain to the Americans just how formidable an opponent Ghana is. The country, which sits in West Africa, has eliminated the U.S. from each of the last two World Cups.
The team is led by a strong midfield, which includes Kwadwo Asamoah, Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, Kevin-Prince Boateng.
Ronaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldo. He’s the marquee name of this tournament and he’s already under the microscope, as his left knee has to be the most monitored in the world, currently. The issue is “left patellar tendinosis” but there’s little doubt that the attacker will give it a go.
If Ronaldo is Ronaldo, then Portugal can play with anyone in this tournament.
Midfielder William Carvalho is another player to watch for Portugal. The 22-year-old owns great ball control and could surprise many when Portugal opens against Germany.
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Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s decision to leave Landon Donovan off the U.S. men’s team immediately opened him up to scrutiny. Many American fans are already down on his scheming and he didn’t win anyone over when he bluntly said the U.S. “can’t win” in Brazil. Unfortunately for American fans, he’s probably right – but that doesn’t mean the U.S. can’t pull off an upset or two. The Americans have depth in the middle of the field, with Michael Bradley leading the way.
Germany has been mentioned as a favorite to win the whole shebang, along with Brazil, Argentina and Spain. The Germans are led by 29-year-old midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, who made his mark in international competition in the 2006 World Cup when he netted a pair of long-range goals against Portugal. The Germans open Group G play on June 16 against Portugal and wrap up group play on June 26 against the United States. There’s a chance that the Germans will already own a spot in the round of 16 when they face the U.S., but many of Germany’s players wouldn’t mind sticking it to U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who was a head coach in Germany for years.
“The experiment with Klinsmann was a failure,” Germany defender Philipp Lahm wrote in his autobiography. “He didn’t care much for tactical stuff ... It was up to the players to come together before a match and discuss how we were going to play.”
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS