World Cup: USA face difficult group stage test

Cristiano Ronaldo will be one of the USA's better known opponents at this year's World Cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo will be one of the USA’s better known opponents at this year’s World Cup.

 

With the start of the World Cup imminent one thing is for certain; The United States will have their work cut out if they are too make it past the group stages.

Here’s everything you need to know about the sides that Jurgen Klinsmann’s men will be facing in Group G.

Ghana (Monday 16th June)

Given that the two sides that share Group G with Ghana and the USA are giants of world football you could be forgiven for thinking that this would be an easy three points for the stars and stripes.

While they may not boast some of the world’s biggest names Ghana have a lot to shout about going into this year’s competition. In 2010 they made it to the Quarter Finals and were only denied a place in the Semis by a controversial goal line handball and a missed penalty in the last minute of extra time against Uruguay.

This year’s squad features some familiar names including former Chelsea player and current AC Milan star Michael Essien, his team mate in Italy Sulley Muntari as well as lightening fast winger Kwadwo Asamoah who plays for Juventus.

They also boast a formidable strike force including Kevin-Prince Boateng, who played for Tottenham Hotspur and AC Milan before joining side Schalke 04.

Ghana are captained by Asamoah Gyan who USA fans will remember as the man who scored the goal that knocked their side out of the 2010 World cup. The 28 year old has been in good form in the warm up games and finished off his preparation with a goal in Ghana’s 4-0 win over South Korea in Miami.

Portugal (Sunday 22nd June)

Where to start with Portugal? A star studded squad of seasoned superstars stands between the stars and stripes and a spot in the last 16.

Let’s start with the defence: Fabio Coentrao and Pepe, two players who were crucial to Real Madrid’s successful Champions League winning campaign will be certain states in the defence for Portugal.

Now for the midfield and Monaco’s playmaker Joao Moutinho is an option for coach Paulo Bento as well as former Chelsea and Liverpool star Raul Meireles.

And finally the forwards, and a man who needs no introduction, Cristiano Ronaldo. This years FIFA Ballon d’or winner, the man who scored more goals in this years Champions League than any player in the competition before him (17), the La Liga top scorer with 31 goals.

Scared yet? At 6 foot tall, strong, fast and a lethal finisher the best player on the planet at the moment and all eyes will be on Ronaldo this year to see if he can transfer his club form into national form and cement his place as one of the greatest players who ever played the game.

The Real Madrid forward has been struggling with a knee injury in recent weeks but featured in Portugal’s last warm up game in New Jersey when they made light work of Northern Ireland, beating them 5-1.

Germany ( Thursday 26th June)

Germany have been a formidable opponent in recent World Cups, losing finalists in 2002 and third place in 2006 and 2010 and, player for player, will be USA’s toughest opponents in Group G.

Given how impressive German club sides have been in European competition in the last four years it is no surprise that their national side boasts a wealth of talent.

In goal they have Manuel Neuer, star of a Bayern Munich side which strolled to the Bundesliga title in record breaking time, arguably the best goalkeeper on the planet.

In defence they boast Bayern’s Jerome Boateng and Philipp Lahm as well as in demand Mats Hummels, currently at Borussia Dortmund, and Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker.

Bayern Munich also have a large say in the squad’s impressive midfield with Mario Gotze, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and Bastian Schweinsteiger all in the contention for a place in the white shirts of Germany. On top of this Chelsea’s Andre Schuurie, Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil and Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira.

Forwards include Arsenal’s Lukas Podolski and Lazio’s Miroslav Klose who, if he was to score a goal in this years competition, would draw level with Ronaldo (The Brazilian who played in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 finals) on total world cup goals.

Germany’s chances have taken a blow in the last week as playmaker and one of world football’s up and coming talents, Marco Reus, was ruled out of the competition through injury.