World Cup 2014 Group G: USA v Portugal

By on June 23, 2014

The USA will meet Portugal in their second fixture of the group stages as Jurgen Klinsmann’s men look to book their place in the knockout round with a second successive victory.

The last time these two sides met was in the 2002 World Cup when USA came out on top with a 3-2 win.

USA were off to a great start to their World Cup campaign as they defeated Ghana in their opening game. It was an intense game and both sides had to work hard throughout the 90 minutes. USA took the lead early on in thefirst minute of the game thanks to a Clint Dempsey strike. The game then took a much dull shape with regards to chances and creativity with both sides working hard for the ball in the middle of the park yet rather undecisive in the final third. Ghana equalized in the 82nd minute thanks to an Asamoah Gyan goal and the Black Stars as well as Jurgen Klinsmann’s men thought that they would have to share the spoils for this one. However, just minutes later, in the 86th minute Brooks scored the inner for the Americans as they went on to win the game with that margin. With three points in the bag from the opening game, Jurgen Klinsamnn will feel that his side have a real chance of qualification from a group where they were otherwise considered as outsiders with Germany and Portugal being the favorites. Klinsmann’s  four man midfield wasa quite effective against Ghana and they blocked off most of the attacks through the center as well as the wings and the same defensive approach might get him a reward againt the Portuguese as well.

USA earned three points from their opening game and with Germany and Ghana fighting out a 2-2 draw in the second round of fixtures, Jurgen Klinsmann’s side have a real chance to go top of the group with a win in this game and put one foot in the knockout rounds. A win in this game would see them enter the game against Germany in a much better position. Portugal will be knokced out and with Ghana still trailing both them and Germany on points, they will all but confir their place in the round of 16. Klinsmann does possess the luxury of being content with a draw in this game as well because Germany’s draw in the other game would see them come level on points if USA draw as well and they could still both qualify with a draw in their final game as well however, that scenario is a bit risky and the fans can expect Klinsmann to go all out for a win in this one.

Portugal’s start to the campaign was one to forget for Paulo Bento’s men with the Portuguese being torn apart by the German attack, as they lost the game by 4-0. Thomas Muller opened the scoring from the penalty spot with Matts Hummel’s later adding a second. Thomas Muller scored his second of the game efore hal time and then went on to complete his hat-trick in the second half. It was a dismal display from the Portuegues and the psychological effect of that loss, alone would be very demoralising. However, Bento must motivate his players to bounce back from that loss and perform better in this one because this is a do or die scenario for them. The Portuguese lacked any real shape in that game and clearly there was no coordination between the midfield and the attack. The Germans closed down the lines very wuickly and very effectively and if the USA keep a tight defensive shape then Bento’s side must look for a plan B if theya re to penetrate the Americans backline. The main problem of the Portuguese was how they failed to create any real chances with the likes of Ronaldo and Nani only getting have chances in the final third. They lacked creativity which they would require more than ever in this game as Germany commited bodeis to attack and allowed Portugal to get half chances but the USA keep a much more tight defensive shape and it might be very hard for Portugal to find space. They must make use of their chances and try to fins other avenues of scoring apart from Cristiano Ronaldo.

This is a must win game for Paulo Bento’s men as they are bottom of the group currently with Ghana picking up a point against Germany a day before. furthermore, they will face Ghana in their final game of the group stages with both sides looking for a win to qualify for the next round and that might be very risky game to put their faith into. They must make the best out of this game and try to get all three points. A draw would put them level on points with Ghana which would mean that it would be a battle between the two in the final game whereas both will depend on the result of the USA-Germany game as well. If Portugal fail to get anything from this game, then they will be knocked out of the World Cup as it will put USA on top with 6 points and Germany on second with 4 points giving Portugal no chance to make it through to the round of 16 in the final game.

Much of the hopes of the Portugal fans will be with Cristiano ROnaldo who has not been totally fit coming into the World Cup as was evident from his performance in the opening game against Germany. The 28 year old failed to have any impact at all on the game with onyl a few half chances coming his way. He has been suffering problems with the thigh injury this past week as well as he has continuously left training with ice packs on his thigh and much of the result of this game might be down to how fit he is for this game. Bento will hope that the Balon D’Or winner can inspire his side to a win in this game as they need him now, more than ever.

USA striker Jozy Altidore picked up an injury in the opening game and will be unavailable fro this game but he is recovering well and might comeback in the final game of the group stages. Jurgen Klinsmann will employ the 4-5-1 fromation in this game with a flat five man midfield that can provide adequate cover for midfield and frustrate the Portugal attack. Clint Dempsey will start as the lone striker up front. Besler also picked up an injury in the opening game but he will be available for this game.

Portugal will have to make do without two star defenders as Pepe is supended for this game owing to a red card in the opener vs Germany while Fabio Coentrao picked up an injury which will end his World Cup tour prematurely. Ricardo Costa could fill in for Pepe while Andre Almeida will come in for Coentrao. Hugo Almeida also picked up an injury int he opening game and will be replaced by Helder Postiga.

DATE: June 22, 2014

TIME: 11:00 PM BST

VENUE: Arena Amazonia, Manaus, Amazonas

REFEREE: N. Pitana

PROBABLE LINE-UPS:
USA (4-4-2):- Howard; Beasley, Besler, Cameron, Johnson; Zusi, Jones, Beckerman, Bradley, Bedoya; Dempsey
Portugal (4-3-3):- Patricio; Almeida, Costa, Alves, Pereira; Moutinho, Carvalho, Veloso; Ronaldo, Postiga, Nani

LAST MATCH:
USA:- 2-1 vs Ghana
Portugal:- 0-4 vs Germany

AUTHOR’s PREDCITION: USA 1-1 Portugal

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