Sports Features of Wed, 28 May 20145
Ghana's opponent Germany to see familiar faces
Germany will have two of its former coaches trying to prevent it from winning Group G at the World Cup.
By adding Berti Vogts to his United States coaching staff, Jurgen Klinsmann now has the last coach to win a title with Germany by his side.
Also, Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates may experience some “home” feeling when Portugal returns to its former colony. And half-brothers Kevin-Prince Boateng and Jerome Boateng will renew their World Cup rivalry on opposing sides when Ghana takes on Germany.
Here are five things to know about Group G at the World Cup:
Germany is always among the highest-ranked teams in the world but the last of its three World Cup titles came in 1990 and the last at a major tournament was the 1996 European Championship.
Germany has a winning record against all three group opponents — the United States (six wins, three losses), Portugal (nine wins, five draws, three losses), and Ghana (two wins).
Germany has beaten Portugal in their last three matches, twice at European Championships and in the match for third place at the 2006 World Cup. The Germans beat Ghana in their group match at the 2010 World Cup and also defeated the United States in the quarterfinals of the 2002 tournament.
Ghana reached the quarterfinals four years ago — beating the United States in the process. Ghana also knocked out the Americans in its only other World Cup appearance in 2006.
The Boateng brothers are likely to face each other again, just as they did four years ago when Germany edged Ghana 1-0 in South Africa.
Raised by different mothers in Germany, the brothers play in the Bundesliga. Jerome is a defender at Bayern Munich and Kevin-Prince an attacking midfielder with Schalke.
By bringing Berti Vogts into his staff, Jurgen Klinsmann has recruited the coach who guided Germany to its last major title at Euro 1996, when Klinsmann still played for Germany.
But that’s not all.
It can be said only slightly jokingly that the United States will start as many Germans against Germany as its opponent. Starting a trend that began when Klinsmann’s predecessor, Bob Bradley, persuaded Nuremberg defender Timmy Chandler and Schalke midfielder Jermaine Jones to play for the U.S. team, Klinsmann has successfully recruited German-Americans Fabian Johnson, Daniel Williams, Alfredo Morales, Terrence Boyd and Julian Green.
Jones and Johnson are likely to be in the World Cup squad and perhaps others. Johnson started for Germany against England in the 2009 European Under-21 Championship final, and Green played for Germany in three qualifiers for the 2014 European Under-19 Championship.
Portugal may not be much beyond Cristiano Ronaldo, but sometimes he is enough. The winner of the Ballon d’Or as the best player in the world, Ronaldo scored all four goals in two matches that allowed Portugal to advance over Sweden in the World Cup playoffs.
He even earned the applause of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden’s equally egocentric star. Add in Ronaldo’s double-digit scoring in the Champions League and Portugal has a big weapon in the attack.
Portugal also should be feeling more at home in Brazil than its opponents. Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to set foot in Brazil and Portugal ran Brazil as a colony. The two countries share the language and Portugal should have plenty of local supporters.
GERMANY’S ITALIAN NIGHTMARE
The good news for Germany is that it cannot meet Italy until the semifinals. The bad news is that Germany has never beaten Italy at a major tournament.
Most recently, Italy defeated Germany in the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup, when Germany hosted the tournament. It also knocked Germany out of the 2012 European Championship, again in the semifinals, dealing the favored Germans a huge blow.