World Cup Group G | Natal | Mon 16 Jun | 11pm
Third time lucky for Stars and Stripes against Black Stars?
Rarely is there a must-win game so early in the tournament, but with Germany and Portugal lying in wait, Ghana and USA know this is a game they need three points from – which doesn’t exactly suit either side’s pragmatic approach.
With Jurgen Klinsmann dropping a bombshell by leaving record scorer Landon Donovan at home, Ghana look to have more proven attacking quality in their ranks, although more goals are needed from attacking midfielders such as Andre Ayew and Kwadwo Asamoah in support of Asamoah Gyan up front.
With Jose Altidore likely and Clint Dempsey drifting in to join him from wide, expect dead-ball specialist Graham Zusi to test a Ghanaian defence that, although well-organised, aren’t individually dominant.
And while Ghana will be motivated by the injustice of missing out on the semi-finals four years ago, revenge with be on the agenda of Klinsmann’s men – the Black Stars have beaten them at the last two tournaments.
What the local media say
The New York Daily News says “Everybody expects the US to have more trouble with Portugal than with Ghana” but points out that “the Americans traditionally play well against technically skilled, Western European sides”, while vibeghana.com says the Black Stars will “surely need to take something from their opening game”.
Key battle: Jonathan Mensah vs Clint Dempsey
Still just 23, Mensah enjoyed a breakthrough tournament in South Africa, establishing himself at the heart of the defence. His battle with Dempsey, who will carry the USA’s main goal threat – as he did in qualifying – in the absence of Donovan, will be crucial, particularly if Ghana take the lead and sit back, as they often did in qualifying.
Facts and figures
- Ghana have met USA in each of their 2 previous participations in World Cups, winning 2-1 on both occasions (2006 group, 2010 second round).
- 4 of Ghana’s previous 9 World Cup goals have come against USA.
- The USA have only kept 2 clean sheets in their last 23 games at the World Cup.
More FFT Stats Zone facts
A must win, but neither will. 1-1.