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 By Kevin Palmer

Group G: Do the U.S. stand a chance?

Group G | Germany | Portugal | Ghana | United States 

Conventional Wisdom

The term 'Group of Death' has never been more apt than when applying it to the trio of teams thrust into the path of Jurgen Klinsmann's Team USA at Brazil 2014.

A series of worst case scenarios were played out for the U.S. when they were paired against a powerful Germany side, a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Portugal and a hugely self-confident Ghana. Fate, clearly, was not on Klinsmann's side.

Beating Ghana in their first game in Natal on June 16 may be the Americans' best hope they have of making an impact in this group, while they can also hope that Portugal's inconsistencies will offer them hope before they run into the juggernaut that is Joachim Loew's well-oiled German machine.

- Men in Blazers: What are USA's chances in Group G?
- 32 Teams in 32 Days: Germany | Portugal | Ghana | United States

Those with a neutral eye on this group would suggest the two qualifiers will come from Germany, Portugal and Ghana, but conventional wisdom is not always reliable in this game.

Must Watch

Germany v Portugal in Rio on June 15 has all the makings of a World Cup classic.

While the Germans must be strong favourites to prevail in all three of their Group G games, the prospect of a recently crowned and fully refreshed Ronaldo throwing his considerable talents at a backline that has a weakness against genuine pace and skill should be a sight to behold.

Portugal's inability to keep the goals out at the other end is likely to undermine their efforts against a free-scoring German side who have been gelling together for some time and should be ready to peak at this World Cup.

One question mark they need to answer will be their ability to produce their best in South American conditions, but it will be great fun watching them try.

Main Men

Mario Goetze will be in the spotlight for Germany.

Mario Goetze [Germany] - Germany's 4-2-3-1 formation relies on their wide players to provide the bulk of their attacking impetus and, in the absence of Marco Reus, the Bayern man has the capacity to light up this World Cup either from the flanks or as a false No. 9.

Cristiano Ronaldo [Portugal] - Real Madrid's free-scoring superstar may be something of a polarising figure among lovers of the game, with his self-confidence and eagerness to hog the limelight infuriating some. What no-one can dispute is that FIFA's current World Player of the Year is a sensational talent.

Asamoah Gyan [Ghana] - He may be plying his trade in the less-than-demanding UAE league these days, but this former Rennes and Sunderland striker remains a key man in his national team's 4-2-3-1 formation.

Clint Dempsey [United States] - He may have celebrated his 31st birthday in March, but this Seattle Sounders attacking midfielder has the experience and class to make a mark at Brazil 2014. Previously with Fulham and Tottenham in England.

What Matters Most

How Cristiano Ronaldo performs is likely to set a narrative for this group.

If the recently crowned Champions League winner is at his brilliant best and rips into Germany in his nation's opening Group F encounter, he has the potential to shred the form book and propel Portugal to unexpected heights. One man rarely makes a team, but that rule can be overlooked when the man in question is Ronaldo.

It will also be interesting to see how Germany cope with the pressure on their shoulders at this World Cup. Their youthful team enjoyed the ride to the semifinals of South Africa 2010, but they were undone by Italy in their first big test of Euro 2012 and will be expected to deliver A-class performances this time.

As for Klinsmann's U.S. team, they can only hope the hype surrounding their rivals is misplaced. It may be a forlorn hope.

Key Stat

Many are calling Group G the Group of Death, and here's a fact to support that claim: Group G is the first group in World Cup history in which every team reached the knockout round at the previous World Cup.

- Five Aside Group G preview

Prediction

1 Germany
2. Portugal
3. Ghana
4. USA

Group A | Group B | Group C
Group D | Group E | Group F | Group H

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