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Portugal vs Ghana - What we can expect - Preview and prediction

FEATURED WRITER
Modified 26 Jun 2014, 18:53 IST
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Portugal vs Ghana

Both sides still have a chance of qualifying, at least mathematically, but that depends on an unlikely sequence of events.

Ghana have the more attainable target – a win by 2+ goals, hoping that Germany beat USA keeping a clean sheet. If that sounds hard, Portugal need to win by about six goals and hope for the same favour from the Germans.

In this most unpredictable of World Cups, don’t dismiss it as a lost cause yet.

Venue

Estadio Nacional, Brasilia

Kick-off 

27th June - 9.30 pm (IST)

27th June – 1 pm (Local time)

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Key Battles

Kwadwo Asamoah vs Nani

Both are energetic players and intelligent dribblers, and this could be the most interesting battle of the lot. Nani will enter this game with renewed confidence after his goal against the Americans. Asamoah’s had a quiet tournament so far, but will need to be very alert against Nani.

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Harrison Afful

As always in a Portugal match, left-wing is going to be the area of focus. However, the industrious Afful had a great game against Germany, and might fancy his chances against a half-speed Ronaldo, who spent most of the USA game wandering around central midfield.

Predictable Line Ups

Portugal have forgotten what a full-strength squad looks like, but at least they’ll have Pepe back for this one, replacing Ricardo Costa. With both Hugo Almeida and Helder Postiga injured, Eder will probably start as the sole centre-forward. Rest of the first XI is likely to stay unchanged from the draw with the USA. 

For Portugal, Pepe’s return provides pace and power at the back, allowing them to play further up the pitch. However, they need more end product from their central midfield, which played a good possession game against the US, but hasn’t done much in the final third thus far, Joao Moutinho in particular.

4-3-3: Ronaldo, Eder, Nani, Mereiles, Moutinho, Carvalho, Almeida, Alves, Pepe, Pereira.

For Ghana, the only confirmed change from the Germany draw is the suspended Sulley Muntari, probably to be replaced by Michael Essien.

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Ghana took a high-octane approach to the Germany game: attack, attack and then attack some more. In two games thus far, they’ve played contrasting styles: dominating possession against USA without much end product, then pressing Germany aggressively up the pitch, with far better results. The latter strategy is likely to work again, against a demoralized Portugal side fielding a large number of 2nd string players.

4-2-3-1: Gyan, Atsu, J.Ayew, A.Ayew, Rabiu, Essien, Asamoah, Afful, Boye, Mensah, Dauda

How both the teams will line up

Key Facts

  • - This will be the first ever meeting between Portugal and Ghana.
  • - Portugal’s World Cup record against African sides is balanced with one win (v Angola in 2006), one draw (v Ivory Coast in 2010) and one defeat (v Morocco in 1986).
  • - Both sides are low on form: Portugal have won only one of their last nine World Cup games (D4 L4); Ghana have failed to win any of their last four World Cup group games (D2 L2). 
  • - Asamoah Gyan has equalled Roger Milla’s record for most World Cup goals by an African player – they both have five.
  • - Portugal have failed to score in six of their last nine World Cup matches; Ghana are without a World Cup clean sheet in six matches. Both need to improve on these stats today, which could   make for an interesting game.
  • - Cristiano Ronaldo has scored just two World Cup goals despite attempting 62 shots (including blocked).
  • - Nani’s goal against USA was the first scored by Portugal in the World Cup in 276 minutes.
  • - Portugal recorded a pass accuracy of 88.08% against USA; their best rate in a World Cup match from 1966 onwards.

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Prediction

Both teams fought their way to a 2-2 in their last game. With both likely to go on the attack, we could see plenty of goals, but no winner. 

Portugal 2-2 Ghana

Match Officials

Referee: Nawaf Shukralla (Bahrain)

Assistant Referee 1: Yaser Tulefat (Bahrain)

Assistant Referee 2: Ebrahim Saleh (Bahrain)

  • Fourth Official: Wilmar Roldan (Colombia)
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Published 26 Jun 2014, 18:06 IST
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