Friday, 27 June 2014

Brazil WC 2014, USA vs Germany + Portugal vs Ghana - Match Reports:

Hello again everyone and welcome to my latest blog post - where I have two match reports from the final group stage fixtures in Group G as USA played against Germany, while Portugal were up against Ghana.

Below was the situation in Group G before the matches were played:

  • Germany were top of the group with 4 points, with USA on 3 (in 2nd) and Ghana and Portugal occupying the bottom two places
  • Germany virtually already sealed their place in the knock-out rounds, while the USA only needed a draw to be certain of a place in the Last 16 
  • Portugal needed to beat Ghana by more than 4 goals (as their goal difference was negative) and hope that USA lose, in order to progress
  • Ghana needed to beat Portugal and hope that the USA did NOT match their result - to get into the Last 16
Here are the team line-ups and news, ahead of both matches in Group F earlier on:

USA vs Germany - 

USA: Howard, Johnson, Gonzalez, Besley, Beasley, Beckerman, Jones, Zuzi, Bradley, Davis and Dempsey.

Subs: Guzan, Yedlin, Diskerud, Brooks, Altidore, Bedoya, Johannsson, Wondolowski, Green, Cameron, Chandler and Rimando.

Germany: Neuer, Boateng, Mertesacker, Hummels, Howedes, Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Kroos, Ozil, Muller and Podolski.

Subs: Zieler, Weidenfeller, Grosskreutz, Ginter, Khedira, Schurrle, Klose, Draxler, Durm, Gotze, Mustafi and Kramer.

Portugal vs Ghana - 

Portugal: Beto, Pereira, Pepe, Alves, Veloso, Moutinho, Carvalho, Amorim, Nani, Eder and Ronaldo.

Subs: Eduardo, Vieirinha, Costa, Neto, Silva, Meireles and Varela.

Ghana: Dauda, Afful, Boye, Mensah, Asamoah, Atsu, Rabiu, Agyemang-Badu, Andre Ayew, Waris and Gyan. 

Subs: Adams, Inkoom, Opare, Essien, Acquah, Jordan Ayew, Adomah, Sumaila, Wakaso and Kwarasey.

Match Report - USA vs Germany:

PRE-MATCH: It was always going to be a tense affair between the two sides, not least because 5 of the USA's players in this World Cup were eligible to play their trade for Germany.

The likes of Bundesliga duo Jermaine Jones and young winger Julian Green could have both represented Germany, but were persuaded to play for America - by manager and German boss Jurgen Klinsmann. 

Both teams would secure their place in the Last 16 with a draw in the match, and despite the pre-match analysis from both sets of countries in the media, it would be an intriguing encounter between two sides of completely different situations.

The USA were expected to be the "whipping boys" of the "Group of Death" - while Germany were not expected to take their foot off the pedal as they were hoping to go on and win the whole tournament itself. 

And in the end, it was the Germans who took a slender 1-0 victory with them - to ensure that they finished as Group G winners, thanks to a fine strike from the edge of the area by Bayern Munich midfielder Thomas Muller, with his 4th goal of the tournament (level with Neymar and Messi for Golden Boot).

German efficiency: Germany got the job done, and will now play against Algeria in the Last 16
The USA were valiant and brave throughout, it is fair to say that they took the game to their opponents but lacked the individual qualities to win the match - which is a credit to the German defence who looked like a brick wall at times, especially as they were effective and powerful despite not being called in action for the full 90 minutes of play.

After a heavy spell of rain in the area overnight, which had seen the Brazilian city of Recife exposed to flooding across the streets, there was a pitch inspection required to ensure the safety of the players.

It was fair to expect that Germany would control much of the match in a wet and windy stadium, but overall they deservedly won the match and looked dangerous on the counter attack. 

Arsenal creative midfielder Mesut Ozil had a shot from the edge of the area saved, while USA's Graham Zuzi came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first-half with a curling effort over the crossbar - but it was 0-0 at the break.

After the half-time interval, it was clear to see that the Germans had upped the ante, they shifted the gears up to increase the pressure on a weakened looking USA defence - and they got what they came for in the 55th minute.

Muller with the opening and only goal of the game, to set Germany on their way to an efficient victory.

A free header inside the area from Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker was parried away by Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard. 

As the USA failed to clear the danger away, the ball fell into the path of Muller on the edge of the area, to curl a spinning drive into the bottom corner of the net - out of Howard's reach. 

Muller's curling effort span into the bottom corner of the net, to give Germany the lead
4 in 3: Muller celebrates his 4th goal of the tournament so far, no-one has scored more than him!
And despite going ahead, they struggled to find the killer goal to stop USA's urges to get forward and look for the late equaliser, which they were narrowly close to after a counter attacking move in the dying seconds of stoppage time but thanks to a crucial last-gasp sliding block by Bayern Munich's Phillip Lahm, the score ended 1-0.

Luckily for the USA, they progressed through to the knock-out rounds as group runners-up, and were consequently able to celebrate after the match.

This was thanks to news coming in of the other Group G match came in between Portugal and Ghana.

Below is a brief match report + summary, from the other match between Portugal and Ghana:

PRE-MATCH: Both sides had a half-chance to qualify for the knock-out rounds, but the odds were certainly more in Ghana's favour - despite the pre-match doubts that they were unlikely to beat Portugal.

There was news before the game which had been reported in the media in the hours before kick-off, as news from the Ghana training camp confirmed that Kevin Prince-Boateng and Sulley Muntari were both sent home and suspended indefinitely after a reported training ground bust-up with the manager - so the African side were under increasing pressure to see how they would cope without the inclusion of two of their best players against the likes of Ronaldo & Co.

In the end, the result finished 2-1 in Portugal's favour thanks to an comical own goal by defender John Boye and a rebounded effort from Cristiano Ronaldo despite an equaliser from Asamoah Gyan.

Gyan's equaliser ensured that he surpassed Roger Milla's record as top African scorer at a WC
However, despite winning the game overall both teams were sent home as the USA clinched 2nd place on goal difference. IF Ghana had won the match, they would have overtaken the USA and progressed to the knock-out rounds, but no-one remembers the losers (eh England?)

Ronaldo walks away after scoring, he knows that Portugal are going home regardless of his finish