Player Analysis: Why Chelsea's Christian Atsu could be key for Ghana against Germany
For 78 minutes on Monday Ghana’s Christian Atsu was the best player in the pitch.
The Chelsea winger perfectly exploited the weak point in the USA line-up, left-back DaMarcus Beasley and was a constant threat to the US defence. However despite Atsu’s impressive performance he ended up with nothing to show at the end of the match, as Ghana lost 2-1 to USA.
Next up for Atsu and Ghana is an even tougher task in the shape of Germany, who represent a daunting prospect following their dominant 4-0 victory over Portugal.
Ghana know that another defeat will knock them out of the World Cup and that they will need a positive result against one of the favourites for the overall tournament.
If Ghana are to get a positive result they will need Atsu to be at his decisive best. Atsu, as against the USA will be up against one of the weak points of the opposition, this time in the shape of Schalke’s Benedikt Howedes.
The defender is a centre back by trade for his club in Germany’s first match he was utilised at left-back. He was actually part of a quartet of central defenders playing for Germany with Jerome Boateng playing at right-back.
Atsu registered a performance score of 22, the third highest score of the Ghana team and he created three chances, the second highest of his team.
His pace and trickery made him a real threat and logic would dictate that Ghana will sit deep so his speed will prove to be vital on the break.
Ghana’s defence seems suspect and it is highly unlikely that Germany won’t score, probably more than once so they need to ensure that they remain an attacking force.
The other key thing for Ghana’s success will be how well Daniel Opare can support Atsu. Against the USA Jermaine Jones did well to keep Opare quiet for the majority of the match and ensured that Atsu was the only threat to the defence.
Against Portugal Mario Goetze started on the left hand side but he often drifted inside, meaning that there may be opportunities for Opare to support Atsu more regularly than against the USA.
This match could also prove to be key in finding out where Atsu is going to be playing his football next season. The winger was signed by Chelsea last season but spend the entire 2013-14 season out on loan with Dutch side Vitesse, where he impressed.
However at the moment it remains unclear whether Atsu will be utilised by Jose Mourinho or sent out on loan again. The likely scenario will be that he is loaned out but an impressive performance could see him end up at a higher profile club than Vitesse.
Ghana are facing a tall order and sadly, in all likelihood, they could well be leaving the World Cup after their match against Germany.
If they are to upset the form book Atsu will have to be at his very best, and show Mourinho exactly what he is capable of.
With his pace he has the ability to trouble Howedes or even Erik Durm should Joachim Low choose to change things up and don’t be surprised to see captain Philipp Lahm tasked with tracking the young winger.