World Cup Group of Death 2014: Highlighting top players in competitive Group
Group G is the designated “Group of Death” in the 2014 FIFAWorld Cup. It is home to Germany, Portugal, USA and Ghana, which promises to be one of the toughest groups in the tournament as a result of the wealth of talent each team possesses.
But numbers aside, it is the calibre of players that really defines the daunting nature of Group G. Portugal boast the current Ballon d’Orwinner, while Germany feature a classy schemer who cost English Premier League side Arsenal £42.5 million last summer.
They are just two of the top players sure to make Group G a nightmare for every team involved. Here is a list of one player from each team to look out for.
Afriyie Acquah, Midfield, Ghana
One unheralded talent who could surprise many is Ghana’s young midfield powerhouse Afriyie Acquah. The 22-year-old has been on loan at Serie A side Parma from Bundesliga outfit TSG Hoffenheim this season.
He is quick, strong and direct from central areas. Acquah is aggressive and stout enough to disrupt opposition possession and lead a break for his nation.
He has reportedly attracted interest from Arsenal, per The Daily Mirror transfer scribe Tony Dawber, citing The Sun newspaper. The youthful bruiser will join veteran compatriot Michael Essien in the middle.
The pair will have a key role to play attempting to wrest the ball away from their more renowned opponents.
Julian Green, Attacking Midfield, USA
In order for the U.S. national team to upset the group’s heavyweights, manager Jurgen Klinsmann needs a player who can surprise the opposition. Enter teenage Bayern Munich attacking midfielder Julian Green.
He made a positive impression in a cameo showing against Mexico back in April, per USA Today‘s Kelly Whiteside. That was enough to earn the precocious 18-year-old a seat on the plane to Brazil.
Klinsmann will need Green to show no fear against illustrious opponents. He must use his impressive straight-line pace to torment defences.
While Ghana are loaded with powerful runners, Germany’s back four can get static. Meanwhile, the Portugal rearguard features ageing stopper Bruno Alves.
Green could get beyond both teams. He’ll certainly need to, considering the declining skills of experienced USMNT attackers like Clint Dempseyand Landon Donovan.
Mesut Ozil, Attacking Midfield, Germany
Mesut Ozil’s debut season in north London may have earned mixed reviews, but the mercurial playmaker possesses ample flair and the quality to deliver in the big tournament.
This wouldn’t be the first time Ozil has shone at a World Cup. The Ghana national team has bitter experience of what can happen when this stylish and natural No. 10 is allowed to find space.
The Germany squad is littered with fast-breaking forwards like Marco Reus, Thomas Mueller and Andre Schurrle. With his keen knack for threading passes between the lines, Ozil will be critical in turning these quick attackers loose.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Forward, Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick against Sweden that sent Portugal to the World Cup, also played a small part in his 2014 Ballon d’Or triumph.
The Real Madrid forward’s exploits in Stockholm were ample proof that he can deliver for his country when it matters, something the prolific goal-getter hasn’t always managed.
But Portugal will need more than one star turn from Ronaldo if they are going to make waves in Brazil. Considering his supporting cast is comprised of players like Helder Postiga and Nani, the onus will be on Ronaldo to be a consistent match-winner.
As he often does at international level, the 29-year-old will rely on supply from cerebral midfield general Joao Moutinho. But even that might not be enough to set Ronaldo free often enough for Portugal to advance out of this treacherous group.