The World Cup has begun, and the US team is set to play their first match tonight against Ghana. Also in Group G with us and Ghana are Portugal and Germany. For the uninitiated, this is bad news for the United States. Portugal has as good a team as they’ve had in recent World Cups, and they’re always cited in the top 10 of teams to win it all. Germany, as always, is a pure powerhouse. Having to face these two formidable teams makes tonight’s match against Ghana our most important. It’s our best chance at a win, and we have to capitalize on it
Let’s put hope aside for just a moment. At the risk of hurting the fragile sports ego of the United States, it is probably smart to acknowledge that this group might just be too difficult to escape. Assuming the team could place second in the group and make it to the tournament, they’d most likely face great teams immediately due to seeding.
Then there’s the fact that Group G has earned the nickname, ‘Group of Death.’ Then there’s the fact that the coach of the US team, Jürgen Klinsmann, has gone on the record saying that it is ‘unrealistic’ to think the US team could win. So let’s assume everyone’s right and we don’t win. Who is likely to win this year?
Spain won the 2010 World Cup, and there was talk of them claiming a rare back-to-back win. Then they lost their first game to the Netherlands 5-1 on Friday. So maybe they’re not such a sure thing. Argentina is another common favorite to win. They’re not far from home, and more apt to deal with the ungodly temperatures and humidity facing players in Brazil. Argentina is sporting a team with rarely any good players – they’re all great. With one of the world’s best players, Lionel Messi, looking to make a splash, Argentina looks good (even if yesterday’s win against Bosnia wasn’t quite a blowout).
But Germany and Brazil are the teams to look out for. Assuming both teams fare as well in the group stages as analysts predict, they will face each other in the semi-finals. Brazil has a home-field advantage, which may make more of a difference this year because of the weather. There’s no doubting Germany’s excellence as a team, but without any top 10 world players, anything less than peak team performance could sink them. The winner of the semi-final game between Germany and Brazil will most likely be the winner of the World Cup. I’ll draw a line in the sand and predict Germany will finally get the deserved win they’ve been seeking for so long.