Sports Features of 2014-06-10

Brazil 2014: Time for Essien and Boateng to step up

The Perception

The perception of this Ghana side is pretty simple. They have an extremely talented squad and a good blend of both younger talent and experience. They like to enjoy themselves when they play, impressive to watch when they’re well on top but they sometimes struggle to dig in and grind out more difficult results.

The Reality

Ghana have some very good individuals and a decent sense of team spirit. One of their main problems is that they carry around one or two egos, which raises the possibility that tempers can boil over at a big tournament. When things fall apart, the higher profile individuals can go missing, rather than drawing everyone together to force themselves back into the game.

Strengths

One of the main strengths in this Ghana team is power and pace. They have extremely strong midfield players such as Michael Essien, who make it difficult for any opposition team to enjoy time and freedom on the ball. They have pace in wide areas through the likes of Chelsea’s Christian Atsu and creativity through the middle provided by someone like Kevin-Prince Boateng or Sulley Muntari.

Weaknesses

The defence looks a little vulnerable. There is experience provided through Jon Mensah but it’s an area of this Ghana side that Germany, Portugal and the USA will look to attack. The full-backs have plenty of pace down either side, but they lack a little bit of top flight experience, which will be crucial with so many talented players in the German and Portuguese national teams.

Key Player

Ghana’s key player is Boateng, just ahead of Muntari. Boateng is one of the Ghanaians who has been accused of previously carrying an ego around. However, there were several reports last season of where he’d played a more mature role at FC Schalke, helping several of the team’s younger players to step up and develop. If he can show that level of maturity then he may well finish as Ghana’s player of the tournament. It will also help if he stays fit.

One to Watch

It will be fascinating to see how Jeffrey Schlupp plays at this tournament. The 21-year-old has just been promoted to the Premier League with Leicester City and has previously been scouted extensively by Manchester United. He will be faced up against Cristiano Ronaldo if he starts against Portugal and if he plays well in that game, he stands a great chance of ensuring Ghana get a result.

Verdict

Ghana are one of the most difficult teams to predict ahead of the World Cup. They can turn up and look as though they’re going to win the tournament but when things go against them, they can let their heads drop. The experienced players have to stop that from happening, egos need to be put to one side and the team has to fight for every point in Group G.