Germany – This is one of the most storied nations in World Cup History, having won the tournament three times. Germany looks to add to that total this year, there is also history to be made on a personal level. Veteran striker Miroslav Klose is on the cusp of history, the is tied with legend and fellow countryman Gerd Muller with 14 goals in his World Cup career. There is only one player left in front of him, Brazil’s Ronaldo is the all time World Cup Goal scorer with 15. Can Klose make history? He’s more worried about Germany winning it’s fourth tournament. While some faces may have changed, they are loaded and prepared to make a deep run this year. They have one of the best young goalies in the world in Manuel Nuer. Two men still in their prime in Phillip Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger, and several young players up front that are ready to compete on this stage. All eyes will be focused on Klose as he could possibly break one of the sports most sacred records.
Portugal – Routinely viewed as one of the best teams in the world, the question remains, can they win it all? Portugal has made it to the final four twice and to the round of 16 once. That would be okay for a different country, but it’s flat out depressing for Portugal. They happen to have the other person in the conversation for arguably the greatest player in the world, Mr. Cristiano Ronaldo. Unlike his nemesis (Messi), Ronaldo has been able to produce for his country on the biggest stage. The team as a whole is very talented, it’s a very strong unit. They must meet their best players level of play if they wish to do what they haven’t done before, be the last team standing.
Ghana – They have had the most success of any team from the continent in the World Cup, several times they have been the only African nation to get out of the Group stage. In South Africa (2010 World Cup), Ghana beat the United States in the round of 16 before falling to Uruguay in penalty kicks. Their qualifying bid went fairly smoothly, mostly without issue. As far as the team they’ve fielded for this year’s tournament, you’d be hard pressed to find a better midfield in the world than what the Ghanians roll out. They have a nice mix of veterans in Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari, along with youngsters Kwadwo Asamoah and Kevin-Prince Boateng. Ghana also has a set of brothers on their roster, the Ayews. Young Jordan made the tournament roster, older brother Andre is a vital piece to that talented midfield. Striker Asamoah Gyan has the luxury of having that dynamic midfield behind him, it’s up to him to capitalize on his scoring opportunities. Can Ghana make it to the final four?
USA – This group has been labeled the “Group of Death”, the United States will be tested very early as they play Ghana in their first match. This is a very different US team from the 2010 version, as only five players from South Africa are on this year’s team. Net minder Tim Howard will have a lot on his plate, he’ll be responsible for making sure the young back-line holds it form throughout the tournament. The Americans have two talented forwards in Clint Dempsey and Jozy Alitdore. Altidore is one of the better strikers in the world, he’s really starting to enter his prime. The midfield will be interesting, gone is Landon Donovan as he did not make the final roster. The midfield now belongs to Michael Bradley, he is a good playmaker and defender, a complete midfielder. Outside of those pieces, this roster has been infused by youth. The reason for the youth movement? Most of these young players belong to clubs in some of the best leagues in the world, so why they lack World Cup experience, it’s not as if they haven’t played on a big stage before. American fans may want to get familiar with Julian Green, Mix Diskerud, and Aaron Johnson. Their contributions will be needed if the US plans to make it out of the “Group of Death.”