Estádio Nacional de Brasilia, Brasília
June 26, 2014; 17 00 BST
Both Ghana and Portugal depend on the simultaneously occurring Germany-USA match to progress to the knockout stages. Both would ideally need USA to lose the game, and then Ghana would then need to win against Portugal and turn round a two-goal deficit. Portugal will want USA to lose but they would still have to beat Ghana and make up a five-goal swing because of their poor goal difference at the moment.
Portugal – Team News, Tactics and Predicted Lineup
Portugal have had an absolutely disastrous World Cup so far. Natural favorites to progress alongside Germany, Bento’s team’s performance sees them get into the match with the spectators expecting them to crash out of the tournament. Their goal difference is three worse than Ghana, which means that to progress any further, Portugal need to beat and do so by scoring lots of goals.
Their opening match against Germany saw them lose 4-0. It was not the scoreline which was shocking, but their performance which surprised everyone. Their was absolutely no flair, over-reliance on their messiah Cristiano Ronaldo and an absent strike force. Against USA, they were no better. The Americans came back in the match after being 1-0 down in the opening minutes. It was only Varela’s last gasp equalizer, which was brilliantly set up by Ronaldo, that saw them come out of the match with something to cherish.
Ronaldo appears a long way from full fitness due to his troublesome knee injury and it is evident that this is holding him back considerably. His work rate is also lowered down and he left the left flank vulnerable against USA, which led to Bento switching things up and making him play a little up front. But even when he is not 100% match fit, the Real Madrid attacker is the player that can help Portugal miraculously progress to the knockout stages. Ronaldo has a lot of goals in him and goals is what his side needs. He has to be effective offensively and create chances for his teammates as well as score himself. Most importantly, the current Ballon d’Or holder has to be positive, as his recent press conferences and statements have given a strong indication that the current mood in the Portuguese camp is otherwise. Ronaldo has to lead from the front, for Portugal to even think they can cause a huge upset and miraculously advance.
‘Red card magnet’ Pepe returns after the suspension he endured in their opening game against Germany, for head-butting Thomas Mueller. As much as a liability he is, Pepe is a solid defender and can help his team against an attacking Ghana.
Bento would want his midfield to do better, be more creative and try to dictate things from the middle of the park. Keeping a lot of possession would frustrate Ghana and the Europeans can hope to hit them on the counter. Portugal will need their left side to be effective as Ghana are particularly strong there. Gyan drifts on to the right side too often and Atsu has also impressed there. Portugal are vulnerable there as Coentrao is missing with injury and Ronaldo is not contributing as much defensively, being not 100% fit himself.
Predicted Lineup (4-3-3): Beto; Alves, Pereira, Pepe, Costa; Veloso, Meireles, Moutinho; Nani, Ronaldo, Postiga
Ghana – Team News, Tactics and Predicted Lineup
Shockingly perhaps, Ghana go into the match with more confidence and are bigger favorites to beat the pretty hapless European side. Ghana were close to winning the game against Germany, but Miroslav Klose came off the bench and denied the Black Stars the opportunity of going back from the game with all three points.
With the complicated Group G table, Ghana would need to beat Portugal and simultaneously hope that Germany help them by beating USA. The Americans, however, have enjoyed a very good competition and might prove to be a tough opposition for the Germans.
This might prove to be redemption stage for Ghana player Asamoah Gyan. Ghana were just a step away from 2010 World Cup Semi-Finals as Luis Suarez had handballed the ball away from the goal. Ghana had then been awarded the penalty and Gyan’s spot-kick rattled the crossbar, but didn’t end up finding the back of the net. Agonizingly enough, their wonderful cup run was cut short. For Gyan, this might prove to be the redemption point – help his side beat the struggling Europeans and reach the knockout stages.
Coach Appaih has made his love for attacking football very apparent, both through the way his side plays as well as saying the famous cliche, ”I always believe that the best way to defend is to attack.” Against Germany, Ghana played wonderful counter-attacking football and they visibly worked on their strength. The second half saw the supreme pace and movement of Gyan, Ayew and Christian Atsu. For Appiah, the trio are very important players and someone he would consider as his main attacking weapons. All three have enough pace to trouble the likes of Pepe and Bruno Alves.
Ghana will be missing the suspended AC Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari.
Predicted Lineup (4-2-3-1): Dauda; Afful, Mensah, Boye, Asamoah; Rabiu, Badu; Atsu, Boateng, A Ayew; Gyan
- This is the first time ever those two teams will square off.
- Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan has scored five World Cup goals and has tied the record of Cameroon legend Roger Milla. These two are now the two top African scorers in the history of the competition.
- Portugal have won only one of their last nine World Cup games (D4 L4)
- Portugal have failed to score in six of their last nine World Cup matches.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored just two World Cup goals despite attempting 62 shots (including blocked).
(Stats via Opta)
Player to look out for: Christian Atsu (Ghana); Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Prediction: Ghana 2 Portugal 1