Globe and Mail columnist John Doyle will be covering the World Cup in Brazil. Here is his look at who to watch and what to expect in Group G.
The pick of many to make the last four, this German team is young and, maybe, callow. Its exit from Euro 2012 was due as much to hubris as any opposition it faced. With Philipp Lahm, Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Müller, Jérôme Boateng, Mario Götze and Manuel Neuer, all from Bayern Munich, Germany has both talent and unity. The key question is this: will the heat in Brazil and injury to key players such as Schweinsteiger cause this team to disappoint again?
It’s time Portugal did better at big tournaments, and everyone knows it. In Cristiano Ronaldo it has, clearly, a player to destroy any opposition. If he’s fully fit, he could be the best player at this World Cup. But he needs to get the ball and his supplier will likely be João Moutinho, currently starring for Monaco in France. This ageing team (average age 28) needs to prove itself as more than a stage for Ronaldo’s tricks.
An aging but vastly experienced team, Ghana hopes to get to the semifinals, a task it failed at World Cup 2010 in South Africa. Then it was the strongest African team and much of that is still intact. Is it still good? It’s packed with legends: the midfield of Kevin-Prince Boateng, Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari. A possible surprise is in store for both Germany and Portugal.
This will be a seventh successive World Cup appearance, and still the USA is underestimated. In this case, justifiably. Manager Jurgen Klinsmann is a polarizing figure, and his surprise omission of Landon Donovan suggests this team is an experiment. Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore will play well but everything else could go horribly wrong.
Player to Watch: Cristano Ronaldo. It’s a matter of fitness, ego and temperament. If he’s fit and in the mood, he will galvanize the world.
Game to Watch: Germany vs. Portugal, June 16. This is the “Group of Death” and somebody’s hopes will either die or be seriously shaken when these two meet.
Predicted Order of Finish: Portugal, Germany, Ghana, USA.