Group G at the World Cup will offer Cristiano Ronaldo the chance to shine, with the Real Madrid star coming off the back of a fine season at club level, with a Champions League won and Ballon d'Or claimed. Portugal will be tested though, not least by powerhouses Germany against who they begin their campaign.

The Germans will feel confident of having a long run in the World Cup, but Ghana and the USA are sure to believe with the pressure off they can flourish, and perhaps take advantage of any slips by Joachim Low's men or Portugal.

Group G is set to play host to some thrilling games, with the fireworks starting from the off. Certain to contain a number of twists and turns, we plot a route through each country's hopes and fears.

>> Germany Team Preview

>> Ghana Team Preview

>> Portugal Team Preview

>> USA Team Preview



Finalists in 2002, semi-finalists in 2006 and 2010, Germany will be hoping to put years of near misses behind them as they attempt to go all the way in Brazil. Led by Joachim Low for the second consecutive World Cup, expectations are high in the country for the former midfielder to guide his team towards glory and earn them a fourth success in the competition and a first since 1990. To do so, Low leads a squad of experienced and hungry players, many of whom are plying their trade at Europe’s biggest clubs.

The Nationalmannschaft had smooth sailing in their quest for qualification to this summer’s festivities in Brazil, topping Group C eight points ahead of second-placed Sweden. Displaying attacking prowess by managing 36 strikes and defensive discipline by conceding just ten times in ten games, they amassed a whopping 28 points out of a theoretical 30 in their group.

They were no surprises in Low’s team selection, with the manager calling the familiar names to the World Cup, with most of his men being from German powerhouses Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. With an-almost similar staff to the one that disputed Euro 2012, expect a traditional German side playing pragmatically and in a very structured manner in Brazil.

Key players

It was another successful personal season for custodian Manuel Neuer as Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal, even though they managed to miss out on the Champions League as they crashed in the semi-finals. Neuer travels to Brazil as arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, but this tournament will be another opportunity for him to battle with Spain’s Iker Casillas to see who is the best glovesman in the game.

Also a key man, Philipp Lahm has been around for so long that people sometimes forget that he was part of two previous World Cups and three European Championships before Brazil 2014, given the way the full-back defies his age with his runs down the flank, or as a midfield kingpin under Josep Guardiola at Bayern Munich. His legs do not seem to ever tire and his presence on the right-hand side of the back four will be a valuable asset for his country.

It was during this competition that Mesut Ozil revealed himself to the world four years ago, which prompted Real Madrid to snap up the exciting midfield man. His arrival at Arsenal this term coincided with the Gunners’ first trophy in ten years, and while his form has dipped after having endured an explosive start to life in London, he nonetheless remains one of the best pure number 10s in the game. Should Germany have any hope of winning the World Cup, they will need Ozil to be sharp and ready.

Coach profile – Joachim Low

Former Fenerbahce coach Joachim Low has cemented his job with the national team ever since taking over from Jurgen Klinsmann in 2006. The perfect embodiment of German discipline, his 4-2-3-1 playing style is almost never ditched, with the supporting cast of Lukas Podolski, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller thrusting forward at will. Having racked up so many near-misses so far, the pressure is on Low to finally deliver on the biggest stage of all. Barring a disastrous World Cup, Low knows his post is relatively secure however, having signed a new contract last year to take him up to Euro 2016.

Expectations and prediction

It is rare for Germany to travel to a major tournament without an impressive assembly of star players and this time will not be any different as they attempt to win their first World Cup in 24 years. Naturally, they will be favourites to top a group that also contains hopefuls Portugal, Ghana and the United States. However, with Miroslav Klose in the twilight of his career and the only pure goal-poacher in the Germany squad, they may come up short when it matters in the semi-finals.

Group fixtures

Germany v Portugal (16th June, Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador)
Germany v Ghana (21st June, Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza)
Germany v United States (26th June, Arena Pernambucano, Recife)


Having qualified to the World Cup for the third consecutive time, Ghana will be hoping to improve their 2010 record as they crashed out of the competition at the quarter-finals at the hands of Uruguay – after a thrilling penalty shootout. In a group comprising heavy favourites Germany and aspirers Portugal, there is little room for the Black Stars to slip up should they want to go far in this tournament.

There is a good feeling for the African side heading into this competition, as Michael Essien believes the squad have enough quality to produce good results in Brazil. “The squad for this tournament is the best Ghana has to offer, and the quality in depth is extremely good, especially in midfield. We have multiple options in most positions which are always a plus for any side. Our initial aim will be to get out of the group into the second round, and then take it from there game by game. Anything can happen, but we are realistic enough to know we cannot aim that high from the start”, commented the former Chelsea man. 

And that is precisely what has occurred as coach Akwasi Appiah selected the best possible squad, with veteran goalkeeper Richard Kingson the only notable absentee for this event, after having been an integral part of the Black Stars for the past two decades or so.

Key players

Former AC Milan star KevinPrince Boateng will have another chance to go head-to-head with brother Jerome when Ghana meet Germany, four years after their previous meeting in South Africa. His ability to be deployed anywhere in the centre of midfield, along with his skill on the ball, make him a very hard man to mark. The ex-Serie A winner will undoubtedly be his team’s focal point in the centre of the pitch.

As Ghana’s most capped player in the travelling squad, Sulley Muntari is also the man with most goals in the squad behind Asamoah Gyan. The midfielder has been playing at the highest level in such a long time that fans forget that he is still 29. Able to operate in the centre or as a left midfielder, his presence will be invaluable as he plays his third World Cup.

Accra-born forward Asamoah Gyan will be his team’s main man in attack as he hopes to bring down the German, American and Portuguese defences. Gyan plays his club football in the Middle East after a shock move from Sunderland in 2012 and it remains to be seen if the less competitive nature of football in the Gulf will have dimmed his goalscoring instincts. 

Coach profile – Akwasi Appiah

Having been assistant to Milovan Rajevac at the 2010 World Cup, Akwasi Appiah assumed full responsibility after the Serbian’s departure. As the first black African coach to guide the Black Stars to the World Cup, he carries the hopes of a nation heading into the tournament. However, being in a very tough group as it is, qualifying out of this group would be Appiah’s greatest achievement so far.

Expectations and prediction

It will be hard for Ghana to qualify given the superior sides present in Group G. Their first game against the United States will be important as a win would grant them great leverage seeing as Germany and Portugal meet in the group’s opener. Given the way things went in 2010, they will be hopeful heading into this tournament, but any realistic chances of progression to the next round are slim.

Group fixtures

Ghana v United States (16th June, Arena das Dunas, Natal)
Ghana v Germany (21st June, Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza)
Ghana v Portugal (26th June, Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha, Brasilia)


Placed next to Germany, Ghana and the United States, the Seleccao have a realistic chance of progressing from the group stage of the World Cup. Having had a very difficult and long qualifying campaign, the Iberian side will relish their chances heading to Brazil. Led by Paulo Bento for a second consecutive major tournament after Euro 2012 and guided on the field by their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, they will want to repeat their best ever finish in a major competition after having been finalists of Euro 2004.

Portugal’s road to the World Cup was an arduous one. Having finished second behind Russia in UEFA’s Group F in the qualifiers, the national side were pitted in a double-legged encounter against Sweden to determine the identity of the travelling side. The Seleccao managed to usurp the Scandinavians 4-2 on aggregate, with Ronaldo shining in both games as he scored his nation’s crucial goals, in what became the building block towards his surge for the 2013 Ballon d’Or.

In Brazil, the Real Madrid megastar will be his team’s focal point once again as he hopes to continue his stellar season. However, he will have a good supporting cast as the likes of Joao Moutinho and Nani will also want to make sure they give their fans something to cheer, with the latter particularly having endured a disappointing season with Manchester United.

Key players

Winning the Ballon d’Or at the turn of the year was the right homage to Cristiano Ronaldo’s continuous hard work. Ronaldo took opportunity of Lionel Messi’s drop in form to make sure that this season was his own. Having shone with Real Madrid as he finally guided Los Blancos to the Champions League victory they had highly anticipated, an asterisk may be forever marked around Ronaldo’s name should he continue to come up short with Portugal. With the sky seemingly the limit for him, now is the time for him to shine.

With just two caps under his belt prior to this tournament, it would be hard for any coach to pick up an unproven player. Yet this is exactly what Bento did by choosing young Sporting Lisbon starlet William Carvalho, who made a name for himself with the Lions this term. A very exciting defensive midfielder, do not be surprised to see him thrown into the mix to anchor Portugal’s midfield.

While Ronaldo will be the focal point of all Portugal do, that may prove ideal for Nani, who will be keen to clock up the minutes on the pitch denied to him at Manchester United this season. With 74 caps to his name, Nani is one of the most experienced performers in the Portugal squad and Bento will hope he can produce when it matters most.

Coach profile – Paulo Bento

A recent contract extension means that the Portuguese FA are satisfied with Paulo Bento’s work, despite the team being labelled unattractive and dull at times due to a 4-3-3 counter-attacking game. Bento usually entrusts wingers Ronaldo and Nani to do the damage with their fancy footwork on the ball and blasting runs on the flanks. However, his over-reliance on the Real Madrid man earned him his critics, and the coach has been accused of failing to have a back-up plan should Ronaldo be having a bad day.

Expectations and prediction

Portugal are always primed to do something special at tournaments, but their dependence on Ronaldo can only take them so far. It is true that the 29-year-old literally single-handedly dragged his nation through the playoff tie against Sweden, but as magnificent as he is, he cannot win it on his own for the Seleccao. Both club and country put too much pressure on Ronaldo, but Real Madrid have more quality in their ranks than do Portugal. Expect the Seleccao to reach the quarter-finals, or even crash out sooner if Ronaldo picks up a knock.

Group fixtures

Portugal v Germany (16th June, Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador)
Portugal v United States (21st June, Arena Amazonia, Manaus)
Portugal v Ghana (26th June, Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha, Brasilia)

United States

The last team to complete Group G are the United States, led by former Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann. While their win of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup last summer on home soil has brought only positives for the side, the truth is that the World Cup will represent a completely different type of competition for the North Americans, whose name has been rising in the world of football in recent years.

The United States qualified as leaders of the CONCACAF fourth round group, four points ahead of runners-up Costa Rica. Realising that they have been grouped with some very talented sides, the USA will rely on sheer hard work as they attempt to upset the likes of Portugal and Germany. With the likes of Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley all present, leading younger talents such as Aron Johannsson, the American side are a mixture of experience and youth.

Yet perhaps the biggest controversy surrounding the travelling squad to Brazil is the surprise absence of Los Angeles Galaxy star Landon Donovan. Widely regarded as the best player ever to come out of the United States, Donovan’s absence comes as a major shock given the forward’s vast experience – he has 156 caps to his name. After all, it was not too long ago that the former Bayer Leverkusen man scored the winning goal against Mexico that sent the USA to the 2014 World Cup.

Key players

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard will be playing his third World Cup with the United States after the 2006 and 2010 editions. His commanding form for Everton saw the club award him with a contract extension that runs through until 2018. If he carries on with his club form into the group stages, then he will prove a valuable asset as the United States aim to navigate the group stage.

With Donovan missing this event, Clint Dempsey’s importance for the United States is even greater. Comfortable on either side of the attack, the Seattle Sounders forward cannot be given any space should his adversaries want to avoid punishment. His reputation for fierce play makes him an even harder opponent to mark. Dempsey is captain of the side and Klinsmann will count upon him.

Michael Bradley’s presence in the centre of the park is very important, as few American players are able to boss the midfield with the 26-year-old’s composure. A combative player with an eye for goal, his position as a central midfielder makes him the United States’ focal point. Now back playing in the MLS with Toronto FC, Bradley will be keen to put his experience gained in spells with Heerenveen, Borussia Monchengladbach, Aston Villa, Chievo and Roma in Europe to good use.

Coach profile – Jurgen Klinsmann

Few Germans around the world are as famous as Jurgen Klinsmann, who has moved on from being an expert goal-poacher to a coach renowned for his forward-thinking ways. Now in his third major job after being manager of Germany and Bayern Munich, Klinsmann enjoys playing attacking football and is sure to set the United States up in the same way. Despite having signed a contract extension at the turn of the year, he did not win any supporters by dropping the iconic Donovan, something that could come back to haunt him should the United States under-perform in Brazil.

Expectations and prediction

With favourites Germany in the group and a Portugal-led Cristiano Ronaldo, the United States have little chance of progression past the group stage unless they can summon the spirit of the 2002 World Cup when they reached the quarter-finals. Klinsmann is confident his side can give a good account of themselves, but they will surely need to beat Ghana in their opening match to have any chance of progression.

Group fixtures

United States v Ghana (16th June, Arena das Dunas, Natal)
United States v Portugal (21st June, Arena Amazonia, Manaus)
United States v Germany (26th June, Arena Pernambucano, Recife)