USMNT: A Look At The Enemy II
With their final tune-up matches done and dusted, OTF’s Juan Santoliva gives some insight on USMNT’s group G opponents…
Germany vs Armenia
Last week, coach Joachim Low stated he wished his players would take advantage of missed opportunities. He got his wish: Germany smashed six-second half goals past Armenia to go ahead 6-1 in a tale of two halves.
The Germans looked flat in the first 45 minutes. Their passing seemed to have no purpose and there was no creativity. They looked very un-German.
Low must have produced an Oscar-winning speech at the half, as his players responded with six goals from five different players: Andre Schurrle, Lucas Podolski, Benedikt Howedes, Miroslav Klose, and Mario Gotze.
Klose finished from close-range to break Germany’s all-time goalscoring record in typical Klose fashion. The legend always seems to be in the right spot, something Low will be hoping continues at the World Cup.
Die Mannschaft got exactly what it wanted as it gained momentum and built some confidence within the squad. Armenia is no Portugal, but a dominant win will always put a smile on a player’s face.
Another tune-up match, another injury. The victim this time was Marco Reus.
Germany suffered a severe blow when their star midfielder was ruled out of the World Cup with a torn anterior ligament above his left ankle just before half time.
Reus had just enjoyed a fine season at Borussia Dortmund and was seen as a huge piece going forward.
Still, Germany shouldn’t shed too many tears: they are loaded in midfield with the likes of Schurrle, Gotze, Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil.
The Germans are done with tune-up friendlies and are solely focused on facing Portugal in group play on Monday, June 16.
They caught goal fever against Armenia and will look to carry that over. Portugal still has a shaky defense, so look for Germany to expose the weakness. Three points shouldn’t be too hard a task.
No more beer-chugging. It’s time for the real thing.
Ghana vs South Korea
Jurgen Klinsmann stayed behind to watch Ghana in its final tune-up match. I hope he took some notes, because the Black Stars showed what they could do on the counter-attack, beating South Korea 4-0 in Miami.
This time around Ghana had most of its starters back, minus Michael Essien, but it wasn’t a starter that grabbed the attention. It was Jordan Ayew who came off the bench early and managed a hat trick (Asamoah Gyan scored as well).
It’s kind of scary to think Ghana is able to produce this much firepower from different players, especially with one that just comes off the bench. They were quick when going forward and showed off some clever passes.
Although the goals were nice, the Black Stars were lucky to not give up some goals as well. South Korea’s Son Heung-Min hit the post and Kwak Tae-Hwi had a goal disallowed.
Some sloppy defense could cause trouble for the African side, which didn’t seem as composed when actually holding the ball and went a little “wild” when defending.
Young attacker Majeed Waris was involved in a collision and had to be helped off the field in just the 6th minute.
Black Stars’ team doctor said, “We did an MRI on the quadriceps and what we realized is that, there was a tear.”
“We hope to get him on to the field again pretty soon. However, we are still monitoring him to the deadline when we will give our final statement on his state of affairs.”
The Ghanaians can call up a replacement as late as June 15.
Ghana will open up Group G play next Monday, June 16 against the one and only U.S.A.
Ghana has beaten the Stars and Stripes the last two World Cups and is ready to go at it again.
Big guns Kevin-Prince Boateng and Asamoah Gyan will look to give us Americans problems, but a shaky defense may make this match interesting.
Portugal vs Mexico
Portugal vs Republic of Ireland
Not much happened when Portugal faced Mexico earlier last weekend, and us observers couldn’t take a lot from it as both teams played without most starters.
Portugal defender Bruno Alves headed in a free kick in the dying moments of the match to give Portugal a 1-0 win…and that was pretty much the only highlight.
The match against the Republic of Ireland last night was much more exciting and insightful as the Portuguese comfortably won 5-1
Portugal had all its injured players back, most notably, Cristiano Ronaldo. The skipper played 65 minutes and had a hand in the third goal. He didn’t look too rusty and should be good to go against Germany.
Hugo Almeida had two goals, Vierinha and Fabio Coentrao tacked on one later in the match and James McClean scored an own goal.
Portugal looked dangerous going up, especially Coentrao. He was a constant headache for the Irish, defending rather well and sprinting up the field to get himself a goal.
Nani was also impressive, making a late cameo but controlling the ball well and assisting on the final two goals.
Portugal has the players to attack and has a relatively solid defense, but they aren’t very consistent so it’s hard to tell which Portugal we’ll see at the World Cup.
Portugal has some minor knocks but nothing serious, so we should expect them to field a strong starting eleven.
Ronaldo may not be 100%, but even an injured Ronaldo is still better than most players.
We’ll have to wait a little longer to see what type of Portugal will come out and play.
Portugal finally head to Brazil, which I think is just a tad late, and look to get at least a tie against Germany on June 16.
Again, it’s a Jekyll and Hyde situation when it comes to Portugal. They typically do better in major competitions, but they haven’t been in this type of group in quite some time.
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OTF’s Juan Santoliva will keep you updated on the latest matches, injuries and other shenanigans from the USMNT’s group opponents. Follow him @jsants90.