The so called “Group of Death” which includes Germany, Portugal, Ghana and the U.S has been one of the most interesting groups to watch. Everyone had speculations as to what teams would easily move to the Round of Sixteen, so far many teams have given us some surprises. The most recent match U.S.A vs. Portugal was exactly that, a big surprise.
When it seemed U.S.A coach Jurgen Klinsmann had it in the bag to move to the next round in first place, a brilliant pass from Cristiano Ronaldo to Silvestre Varela equalized the match.
If you have not heard by now, this is what happened!
Going into this match, the U.S. side was clear favorite, after a win last week against Ghana, it set the tone for this next match. If the U.S. could win against Portugal they would move on to the next round in first place since Germany was only able to tie their match against Ghana.
As for Portugal, a win would mean they still remained alive in their group after their horrible start against Germany, it was do or die for Paulo Bento’s men.
The days following up to the match were full of uncertainty for the press, as they continued to bombard the Portuguese side with questions about Cristiano Ronaldo’s status and whether or not he would play. Let’s recall that Portugal lost Fabio Coentrao to an injury and Pepe is suspended. But enough about the before let’s talk about the after.
Luis Nani opened the scoreboard for the Portuguese side at the fifth minute, the score was now one-nil. As the U.S. continued to attempt to tie the match but they just could not find the goal. Before half-time, at the 39th minute we had stoppage in play and the first ever water break in a match due to the extreme heat in the Arena Amazonia. A water break was something unprecedented, FIFA gave the order to referees several days ago. Aside from the heat, it was also very humid which increases the risk of injury and even a heat stroke.
After half-time the U.S. continued to strike to the extent that in one of the plays, the Portuguese goal keeper Rui Patricio came out of his net and when Michael Bradley kicked what seemed to be the tie breaker, Portuguese player Ricardo Costa came to the rescue and was in the right place at the right time to kick out Michael Bradley’s sure shot. But with so much at stake, the U.S. was not going to give up eventually their fruits of their labor came at the 64th minute when Jermaine Jones would score for the U.S., the match was now a tie.
But the U.S. knew it needed to win in order to secure their pass to the next round in first place, as for the Portuguese, they knew they needed to win in order to remain alive or else they would be saying goodbye to the World Cup.
At the 81st minute, the captain Clint Dempsey would step up to the challenge and score the tie breaker, making it 2-1, the U.S. side rejoiced knowing there was little time left to secure their pass, all they needed to do was secure their win. When it seemed the U.S. was going to beat Portugal, in the referee decided to add five minutes in stoppage time and like the U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said after the match, “football’s cruel sometimes,” the reason being that after a brilliant pass from Cristiano Ronaldo to Silvestre Varela the U.S. said goodbye to their secured pass to the next round as the match was now tied 2-2, and soon over. Both teams only acquiring a point which only means they are still alive and that the top spot and the second place in the group is still up for grabs.
Looking at both teams, the U.S. seemed very capable of acquiring their win, the Portuguese started well but eventually things changed, Coach Paulo Bento had to once again make an early substitution after it seemed Hugo Almeida was injured, adding yet another injured player to his list.
Next up for both teams, the U.S will face Germany this match will either decided first place, or will secure the pass for both teams, given the fact that they both have four points. As for Ghana and Portugal, they remain at the bottom of the group but both have one point, the only difference is that Ghana has a -1 (goals scored against) and Portugal has a -4 (goals scored against).
The U.S. can advance with a win or a draw if they lose they will have to wait for the results of Ghana vs. Portugal, and hope that Ghana wins or draws the match.
Portugal has it a bit difficult to advance but not impossible. If they want to advance they must hope Germany beats the U.S. and they have to beat Ghana with various goals given that their differential is -4. It gets even trickier and confusing if we continue to get into the possible scenarios.
Let me spare you of that trouble and just say that whatever happens in this group, their next matches will be against group H, so far the only one advancing in that group in first place is Belgium.
For now just enjoy the beautiful game.
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