Jurgen Klinsmann’s USA team can qualify through to the Round of 16 with a victory against Paulo Bento’s Portugal, tomorrow in Manaus, but it will be no mean feat for the Stars and Stripes. With Group G now completely wide open and anyone’s for the taking, this will be a very hard fought contest by both sides.
Portugal will be eliminated if they don’t get at least a point in this game so they will play aggressively and dominantly, especially key man Ronaldo, but this phenomenally entertaining World Cup has shown time and time again that reputations and FIFA rankings don’t mean a thing compared to passion and desire. Take Costa Rica for example, or Iran almost getting a point out of Argentina, or Ghana giving Germany a run for their money and denying their confirmation through to the next round, or… the list goes on, there isn’t space to mention them all in this preview.
USA Team News:
Possible XI: (4-4-2): Howard, Johnson, Brooks, Cameron, Beasley, Beckerman, Bradley, Jones, Bedoya, Dempsey, Johansson
Beckerman and Jones will no doubt line up alongside each other again, bolstering the midfield and adding defensive solidity, with Michael Bradley in front of them offering the attacking aspect. The United States will have no illusions and will be prepared to be on the back foot for much of the game but they will be ready to pounce like cats at any opportunity to counter. Bradley will lead them forward, with Dempsey just ahead of him, filling the gap left by the injured Jozy Altidore. Aron Johanson will probably get the nod over Chris Wondolowski, despite the Earthquake having more international goals and experience.
Dempsey is most likely to be the one level-headed enough to score against such difficult opposition and he would especially love to recreate the way they started against Ghana, with a goal in less than 40 seconds.
Portugal Team News:
Possible XI: (4-3-3): Patricio, Pereira, Costa, Alves, Almeida, Veloso, Moutinho, Meireles, Ronaldo, Postiga, Nani.
Pepe will have to sit this one out after his ridiculous reaction to Thomas Muller (pictured), headbutting the German right in front of the referee. Portugal will miss him and they will also be without the attacking threat on the wing of Fábio Coentrão. Without both, Bento’s men lose lose some of their intimidation and shape. Ronaldo will be planning to make their absence irrelevant, but he will have to get much more involved in the game than he did against Germany. USA will have to watch they don’t lose their formation when tracking Ronaldo, leaving gaps for Portugal to take advantage of.
Prediction: USA 1-2 Portugal
I don’t want to call this against the US but I let my heart rule my head when I predicted England to beat Uruguay, so maybe the reverse could end up happening here.
Key World Cup links:
USA: World Cup 2014 Team Page
Portugal: World Cup 2014 Team Page
World Cup 2014 Matches – Fixtures & Results
World Cup 2014 Player & Team Stats
World Cup 2014 Group Tables
Watch live World Cup matches online
Our main World Cup 2014 news page
The Official Soccerlens World Cup Predictor Game