Expectations: part seven
Here is my seventh part:
Group G: Germany
Strengths: Germany has been one of the most consistent squads over the past decades and always made it at least to the semi finals in all competitions since their home World Cup in 2006. The team plays a dynamical and modern kind of football. Their squad includes not only players from the strong domestic league but also from different top leagues in England, Italy and Spain. The team especially includes some of the world's most gifted midfielders such as Sami Khedira (Real Madrid C.F.), Thomas Müller (FC Bayern Munich), Mesut Özil (Arsenal F.C.), Lukas Podolski (Arsenal F.C.), André Schürrle (Chelsea F.C.) and Bastian Schweinsteiger (FC Bayern Munich) to only name a few. After many second and third places, many experts, fans and the team itself think its time for a World Cup title for the current golden generation of German football.
Weak points: In the last big tournaments, Germany always had a very two-sided play. At certain points, the squad was able to celebrate crushing victories over Argentina or England with many goals and on other days, they went through disappointing defeats against Italy or Spain where they couldn't score at all. This lack of consistency is an important issue. Another current problem is that some of Germany's most important players like Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund) and Lars Bender (Bayer 04 Leverkusen) are currently injured while other only recently recovered from injuries and are not on top form yet like Sami Khedira or Miroslav Klose. Joachim Löw is a manager that always supports young players and Germany's current squad of youngsters includes seven international no names that have played five or less caps for Germany so far. These players might still be too unexperienced to mess with the world's greatest players. Another issue that is often discussed is the fact that the German squad only includes one striker with Miroslav Klose (S.S. Lazio) who is already thirty-six years old. Joachim Löw considers traditional strikers as less important and often nominates offensive midfielders as strikers like Mesut Özil or Mario Götze that couldn't always convince in their new roles. This experimental side of coaching could create some confusion among the players and can be considered as Germany's most important weakness.
Expectations: Germany has played a very strong qualification where they won nine out of ten games and scored incredible thirty-six goals. Despite two victories and two draws in the last four friendly games, the German team seems to be less confident and on form than a few months ago due to a few unlucky injuries and many young players in the squad. The team is also lacking a true leader who is able to push the team in difficult situations. These are the reasons why Germany will survive the group stage and probably make it to the quarter finals but won't win the World Cup title this year.
Germany's squad from June 6, 2014 against Armenia (copyright: Impromptu Inc.)
Group G: Portugal
Strengths: Portugal's squad includes some of the best players in the world that are playing in the European top leagues. Apart of captain, superstar and FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid C.F.), there are other important players such as defenders Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce S.K.) and Pepe (Real Madrid C.F.), midfielders Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce S.K.) and Nani (Manchester United F.C.) as well as strikers as Hugo Almeida (Besiktas J.K.) and Helder Postiga (S.S. Lazio). The squad seems to be on form right now. In the past twelve months, the team only lost one out of thirteen games.
Weak points: Portugal has never won a World Cup or European Championship. The team has always been cited as a potential winning candidate by many experts for more than one decade but the Portuguese couldn't deliver so far. Sometimes, the team seems to be to dependant upon the form of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. During the qualifying process, Portugal couldn't win its group and only placed second behind Russia. Portugal had to go into play-offs against Sweden where they had to give all they had to make it to the World Cup.
Expectations: Portugal should survive the group stage but my guess is that they are to dependant upon their star players to form a strong team spirit. I think that Portugal won't make it beyond the round of sixteen.
Portugal's squad on March 5, 2014 against Cameroon (copyright: Space Food)
Group G: Ghana
Strengths: Ghana seems to be Africa's most consistent, disciplined and successful team. The team played a solid qualification over the past years. The country also made it to the quarter finals during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa where they lost dramatically against Uruguay. Ghana can also count on a diversified and internationally experienced squad with twenty-three players that are currently playing in thirteen different countries: England, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Tunisia, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates. The squad includes a few technically skilled players that got their international breakthroughs. The team is well known for their successful midfielders like Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus F.C.) André Ayew (Olympique de Marseille), Kevin-Prince Boateng (FC Schalke 04) and Mikael Essien (A.C. Milan) as well as striker and captain Asamoah Gyan (Al-Ain FC).
Weak points: The team's weak points are definitely the defense where they have only six players in their squad as well as the goalkeeping position. The past tournament has also shown that Ghana isn't always calm and clever enough to compete with the best teams in the world and plays sometimes in a too emotional way in important games.
Expectations: Ghana plays in a very tough group and even though their squad has a lot of qualities and is probably Africa's best, it would be a surprise if they were able to beat Germany and Portugal in their group this year.
Ghana's squad on October 15, 2013 against Egypt (copyright: AFP Photo)
Group G: United States of America
Strengths: Soccer has become more and more popular in the United States over the last couple of years due to the expension a stronger Major Soccer League and recent successes of the national soccer team. The country has qualified for a World Cup for the seventh time in a row. New manager Jürgen Klinsmann had led Germany to a third place in the 2006 FIFA World Cup and is an experienced, experimental and sometimes controversial coach who has managed a very successful qualifying campaign for this year's World cup. The squad features a balanced mixture of experienced veterans and young and hungry players.
Weak points: The most controversial decision made by Jürgen Klinsmann was to not nominate the most capped player and most successful striker in American soccer history Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy) for the World Cup. Instead of their charismatic leader, the manager nominated a few unexperienced no names with less than ten caps such as defenders John Brooks (Hertha BSC) and DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC) as well as midfielder Julian Green (FC Bayern Munich) and striker Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar). Many experts guess that Jürgen Klinsmann will lose his job if these risky experiments don't work out.
Expectations: The United States won't survive the tough group stage. They have too many unexperienced players and no player can take the place of the charismatic Landon Donovan that wasn't nominated in a controversial decision by German manager Jürgen Klinsmann.
American soccer squad on June 7, 2014 against Nigeria (copyright: US Soccer)« Expectations for the FIFA World Cup 2014 - part VIIExpectations for the FIFA World Cup 2014 - part VIII »