It is called the Group of Death. It is the title given to the grouping that is assumed to be the most difficult to advance from in the first round of the World Cup due to FIFA standings. In 2014, the members of the Group Of Death include Portugal, Germany, Ghana and the United States. For the four countries included, it means a tough battle that is going to require playing your best even in the opening games of the tournament. For fans, it means exciting matchups that will offer potential opportunities for surprises.
Player To Watch: Christiano Ronaldo.
Coming off a year where he dethroned Lionel Messi as the top footballer in the world, Christiano Ronaldo will be looking to make a statement at the World Cup. Ronaldo is in top form and we’ve seen the way that he has taken over games in the past for Manchester United and Real Madrid. Because of the lifespan of footballers, and pro athletes in general, this may be Ronaldo’s best chance to bring a World Cup to Portugal. The biggest concern for Portugal could be their lack of a quality striker on their squad. Nonetheless, they currently rank as the #5 team in the world and they seem to only get better when Ronaldo knows what’s on the line.
Players To Watch: Mesut Ozil, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Manuel Neuer
Quite possibly one of the top players in this tournament not named Messi or Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil will look to make his own impact on the World Cup. And while some squads will rely on one player to try and lead them in Brazil, Germany has one of the most stacked teams in the world right now. They currently rank as the #2 team in the world behind Spain, which makes sense considering how many top-25 players they have. Keep an eye out for Ozil to put up points for the Germans and for Neuer to rack up clean sheets as the keeper.
Players To Watch: Kevin-Prince Boateng, Kwadwo Asamoah
Ghana is likely to be the darlings of this group and they will certainly have their work cut out for them if they hope to get any wins. They certainly don’t have the same type of star power that the other teams boast, and Ghana also gets discredited for the amount of effort their players seem to put in for their nation. Ghana is a long-shot in this tournament, but it’s always fun to watch the David vs Goliath matchups that are going to take place during the first round of games. The team from Ghana is currently ranked at #24 in the world.
United States of America
Players To Watch: Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Tim Howard
There may not be a team more disappointed than the USA to get this draw in the Group Of Death. Currently ranked at 13 in the FIFA rankings, the USA was hoping this would be a year that they could advance from group play. However, with Germany and Portugal to go against, they have an uphill battle. Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey will likely lead this team as they have in previous years, but they may be past a point of their prime, which could be detrimental to the overall quality of the club. Instead, the US will have to hope from huge performances from keeper Tim Howard to try and keep Mesut Ozil and Christiano Ronaldo out of the net.