The FIFA World Cup Kickaround and Postgame Thread For 6/26/14: Group G Finales
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Goalkeeper Fatau Dauda and defender John Boye were the determining factors in the US going through over Ghana, with Portugal realistically out of it because of goal difference.
Germany really could have found the opener early on, but good backline defending by the US kept them scoreless. The US even countered with a few moments on the other end, but it was all about Omar Gonzalez remerging as a vital cog for Jurgen Klinsmann's side.
But both Gyan and Portugal had their opportunities today, with Ronaldo guilty of spurring four golden chances to sum up how dreary his World Cup was. Paulo Bento had to deal with injuries (Coentrao, Almeida, Meireles, Postiga) and stupidity (Pepe) in these three matches, but his tenure looks set to be over.
For Kweshi Appaih's side, against a Portugal team that could have been exhausted after Manaus, they could not produce outside of Gyan's leadership. They fell behind for the third straight game, and Christian Atsu and Jordan Ayew failed to produce quality when they should have with their abilities. Considering the money issues, the expulsion of Boateng and Muntari and the underrated factor of Majeed Waris pre-tournament injury, it was a World Cup were Ghana regressed after two steps forward in 2006 and 2010.
Meanwhile for Germany, no more injuries for Joachim Low after a solid performance, although there will be a little bit of a dilemma for them. Thomas Muller, outside of his fine goal, had his least effective match due to not being in the box enough. Only Klose's appearance helped matters for him but surely looks set to be on the bench as Gotze will likely return with Ozil and Muller up front.
Low will be happy though seeing Bastian Schweinsteiger show fine mobility throughout the entire pitch and resemble the world class box to box midfielder he still is if injuries subside.
The "Group of Death" concludes with Germany and "Germany lite" getting through. Both Portugal and Ghana will have major revamping to do.
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It's the first starts for Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski, Omar Gonzalez, and Brad Davis, and their inclusions into the lineup may on paper determine this match.
Gonzalez must restablish the continuity he had with Matt Besler last year and be cognizant of all times of Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil sophisticated movement, while Besler will keep an eye on both as well as Podolski's runs if Fabian Johnson is caught not on him tightly.
Schweinsteiger is motivated to have his place in the lineup from now for Low and will be looking to show that he can still be a top class two way force.
The key to this game however will be on if Kyle Beckerman can prevent Toni Kroos from getting into the key spots outside the US box as well as if Philip Lahm can finally play a steady game and contain Michael Bradley.
Ghana-Portugal Tactical Thoughts
The dispatching of Muntari and Boateng could be a blessing in disguise for Appiah, who get youngsters Waris and Badu into the side. Waris has been waiting this whole tournament to explode after his unfortunate injury in the last friendly warmup for Ghana against Korea, while Badu is already a fine productive regular at Udinese.
With a still dejected and ravished Portugal side, how the returning Pepe and the ailing Bruno Alves deal with Gyan will be telling, as well if Asamoah contains Ronaldo. It will be interesting to see how motivated Ronaldo is in this match after his comments, as well as seeing if William Carvalho can cause problems in the middle on Andre Ayew.
(Will be back for more later......)