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Thursday, 12 June 2014

World Cup Preview; Groups G & H

In the final part of my preview ahead of this year's World Cup in Brazil, I explore both Groups G and H.

Group G:

Germany: The Germans are being tipped as widely one of the favourites to go far, and maybe even win the tournament. They've finished in third place at the last two World Cup's and came second in 2002. It will be up to Joachim Low's 'nearly men' to go further and win their fourth world title. It's extremely hard to pick a weakness in their squad. They have arguably the best keeper in the world, a mix of youth and experience, a solid defence, a vast amount of creative players and Miroslav Klose who is just two goals away from scoring the most goals at a World Cup finals by an individual player. Aside from Brazil, I think Germany are one of the teams with the most pressure on them at this years tournament. Prediction: I think they will at least makes the semi-finals and could possibly go onto reach the final and maybe even win it.

Portugal: They go into this World Cup with possibly one of their worst crop of players they have ever had. Saying that, they do have the best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo who has the potential to win games on his own for Portgual. They reached the finals through a play-off win over Sweden and their side not having a renowned striker means they may not live up to their full billing. Their defence looks decent but in Bruno Alves and Pepe they may pick up a lot of cards, meanwhile their midfield will probably be ran by Joao Moutinho of Monaco. Prediction: Behind Germany it's a three horse race to see who will qualify in what is being named the Group of Death. However, because of Ronaldo I think they'll just about scrape through.

Ghana: In 2010 the Ghanians managed to reach the quarter-finals and have the potential to perhaps go far again but will probably come unstuck against Germany and Portugal by their leaky defence. They have a great midfield and attack with incredibly depth though which means they should be fine when it comes to scoring and creating goals. Kevin Prince-Boateng, Asamoah Gyan, Essien, Muntari and the Ayew brothers will be big players for them. Prediction: Have the potential to harm Portugal and therefore may make it out of the group, I think they'll just fall short and finish third though.

USA: The Americans may have a tough time at this years World Cup but have plenty of experience. However, their defence could be exposed against the greatness of the attacks of the other teams in their group. They themselves have a decent attack in Dempsey and Altidore. They meanwhile have Jermaine Jones who used to play for Schalke and also Tim Howard in goal. Landon Donavon was surprisingly not included in the squad and that could prove to be a mistake. The US managed to draw with England in 2010 but you feel that Germany and Portugal will be a bridge too far for them in Brazil. Prediction: Bottom of the group having not won a game, a dismal tournament for Jurgen Klinsmann's men.

Group H:

Belgium:  Belgium could prove to this years surprise package and are filled with some amazing talent that could see them go far in the competition. The finished top of their qualifying group having not lost a game and they'll look to take that form into Brazil. For all their amazing talent, Hazard, Kompany, Witsel, Courtois etc, they could struggle due to Benteke being out injured and Lukaku only just returning from an ankle injury. Therefore their hopes could rest upon young Divock Origi to score the goals. What could get them far though is their extremely solid defence and the strength in depth in the midfield department. Prediction: I think they'll top the group but the last 16 could be the limit for the Red Devils.

Algeria: This time round the Algerian's will be hoping that they can actually score a goal at this year's tournament, let alone get any points in their group. In South Africa they didn't score a single goal but this time round a lot of their players play in Europe's top five leagues. The man to watch for them will most likely be Valencia's Sofiane Feghouli. Their forward line doesn't look great but they have depth in midfield and that could be crucial if the Algerian's want to progress. Prediction: Like with 2010, I think they'll finish bottom of their group having not won a game.

Russia: The Russian's go into this World Cup managed by former England boss Fabio Capello and could cause an upset along the way. It's a very interesting group and it's hard to tell who will probably follow Belgium into the last sixteen. Like with a few of the other teams in Brazil, they have a good mix of youth and experience to call upon. Ignashevich is a very experienced defender whilst their goalkeeper, Igor Akinfeev isn't too bad either. Alan Dzagoev impressed at Euro 2012 and is their main creative outlet. Meanwhile, they will be relying upon Alexsandr Kerzhakov to bag them the goals needed to progress. Prediction: Second in the group, but knocked out in the last 16.

South Korea: With the group the South Koreans are in, they have the potential to get out of it but they don't usually seem to click when it matters. They're in poor form going into the World Cup and a 4-0 defeat to Ghana proved that. Their defence will probably be their man downfall but their midfield and striking department isn't all that bad. Park Ji Sung usually seems to perform well for South Korea whilst the also have ex-Sunderland player Ji Dong-Won and Leverkusen's Son Heung-Min to call upon. Meanwhile, Ki from Sunderland and Lee from Bolton have both been included in the squad. Prediction: I've said with many teams that they have potential and South Korea are one of those nations that definitely fall into that category. I can see them getting out of the group, but I can also see them failing, and that's what I think they'll do by finishing third in what looks an interesting group on paper.

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