Germany is looking an extremely fluent outfit. Their last friendly may have come up against minnows, Armenia, with a possible hint of match fixing thrown in there, but at the end of the day they still stuck six past them. The fact that they should lose Reus and have such a veteran in the shape of Lukas Podolski at their disposal is just one example of their strength in depth. I really can’t see them struggling to get out of the group.
Portugal seems to have made very little progress since scraping their way into the world cup finals. The 1-0 win against Mexico doesn’t even begin to tell the story of the game. Portugal’s defense looked extremely suspect, handing Mexico at least four good chances to put itself on the score sheet.
Ghana seems to have finally found their way, or at least have something to be positive about. The ‘Black Stars’ were able to record a 4-0 win over South Korea with the help of a Jordan Ayew hat trick. At times the African powerhouse looked devastating on the attack, yet there still doesn’t appear to be any kind of coherent strategy in place, and as a result, it always looked like conceding.
And finally the USMNT. There are so many positives to take out of the Nigeria game, which proved a fine tune-up before they face Ghana. The stand out star has to be Jozy Altidor, who picked the perfect moment to score for the first time in six months, adding a second not long afterwards.
The first half tap-in seems to have reinvigorated the Sunderland striker, and perhaps the most telling sign of a possible transformation came between the 64th and 68th minutes of the game. The 64th minute saw Clint Dempsey break free down the middle and into the eighteen-yard box. Jozy Altidor peels off to open up the angle for Dempsey, and he’s screaming for the pass. This is the behavior of a confident center forward, and just four minutes later Altidor instinctively slams his second into the back of the net. He may have hit form just in time, then. Michael Bradley also looked impressive and I’d be willing to bet that, come August, the 26 year old will be playing his football in the Premiership.
Klinsman appears to have made a few tweaks to the formation, and the result is something altogether a lot more robust. From watching the Nigeria game, it would appear that the formation is constantly changing from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-1-3-2. The USMNT look very comfortable with this transient formation, and it’s clearly something they have been working on.
As impressive as Ghana were against South Korea they laced variation in their general attacking play. It’s important that the USMNT start out in that 4-2-3-1, frustrate Ghana, and gradually ease themselves into the game.
With three wins out of three, the USMNT must be going into this tournament believing they can cause an upset.