Soccer World Cup

2014 World Cup Preview: Ghana vs. Germany

Thomas Muller and Sami Khedira

Witters Sport-USA TODAY Sports

The national team from Ghana is coming off a dramatic 2-1 defeat to the USMNT in their first match while Germany steamrolled Portugal in a dominant 4-0 performance to kick off their Group G campaign. This contest is a rematch of their 2010 group matchup which saw Germany win in a very close game, 1-0.

There is no love lost between these two teams which is due in large part to Kevin-Prince Boateng, who has made some fairly disparaging comments about the Germany squad. Boateng was also responsible for the brutal tackle on Michael Ballack that ended his international career shortly before the 2010 World Cup was to begin. Jérôme Boateng, his brother, chose to play for Germany and while some have tried to portray their separation as bad blood, their relationship off the pitch is actually fine.

However, those comments, which claimed the German squad was “leaderless,” seem to have struck a nerve at the exact wrong time. Germany’s drubbing of Portugal was an absolute clinic put on by manager Jogi Low and his extremely talented team. I would say Boateng awoke a sleeping beast with his remarks, but the beast was already awake and that could spell trouble on Saturday.

Thomas Müller recorded a hat-trick against Portugal in the opening match and played exceptionally well. His movement off the ball and near goal was brilliant and his finishing was nothing short of surgical.

Germany’s defense sufficiently shut down Portugal’s talented wingers, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Nani, for 90 minutes as they did not have many dangerous chances to test goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Ghana’s attack starts with the trio of Asamoah Gyan, Andre Ayew and Jordan Ayew. While Ghana created several chances on goal against the United States, their game plan of swinging a high volume of (inaccurate) crosses into the box was snuffed out easily by the U.S. back line. Against Germany, their back line is even taller and more prolific in the air, so their strategy must change if Ghana hopes to have better looks at goal.

Ghana’s defense will also have a difficult time containing some of the best midfielders in the world in Mesut Özil, Toni Kroos, Mario Götze and Philipp Lahm. Their pressure in the center of the field frustrated and stunted Portugal’s ability to get out and counter with numbers.

Where Ghana should have a bit more success is with their speed and quickness which completely shut down the United States midfield on offense as they forced a large number of turnovers with high pressure. If Ghana can replicate that against Germany, then Germany will not have the significant amount of time on the ball that they used to pick apart Portugal’s defense. I do see Germany’s quality being able to overcome the pressure Ghana will apply and should settle in after the first 15 minutes to find a rhythm.

Prediction: Ghana 1, Germany 3.