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Group G Watch

How Will the U.S. Stop Ronaldo, the World's Best?

Portugal’s favorite peacock didn’t get on the scoresheet this past weekend, but he did make headlines, winning the Ballon d’Or for the second time. Here are all of the Group G highlights.
BY Blake Thomsen Posted
January 14, 2014
11:32 AM
IT WAS ANOTHER relatively quiet week for the U.S.’s Group G foes. Here, ASN brings you everything you need to know about the top players on the three teams the Yanks will face in Brazil.


Have you missed Bayern Munich scoring bags and bags of goals against overmatched opponents? If so, you’re in luck. The German world-beaters were back at it in a couple of friendlies this past week, winning 2-0 against Al-Merrikh before turning on the style in an 8-0 demolition of Al-Kuwait.

As far as the 2014 World Cup goes, 18 year-old Bayern prospect Julian Green is likely neither friend nor foe, but we’ll include him in the Group G Watch due to the sheer intrigue. The dual-national German-American started and scored in both games for Bayern, leaving American fans drooling about the possibilities of having a star player at the world’s best club. Here’s his neatly taken goal against Al-Merrikh.

And here’s his goal in the 8-0 win against Kuwait, straight out of the Arjen Robben “cut inside on to your stronger foot, blow past a flat-footed defender, and slam it home” playbook.

If you have lots and lots of free time, you can click through the rest of the video to see both Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze score twice. The attacking midfield duo will likely be given the chance to start together for Germany in Brazil. The Germans have an embarrassment of attacking riches, with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus, and Toni Kroos all competing for places in the 4-2-3-1. But at the moment no one is playing better than Gotze and Muller, who have been consistently excellent all season long for Bayern.

La Liga

Portugal’s Pepe had an outstanding game over the weekend, scoring his third league goal of the season and helping Real Madrid keep a clean sheet in a narrow 1-0 win at Espanyol.

As demonstrated here, the center back poses a considerable threat from set pieces, and the U.S. defense will have to be on high alert with Pepe as well as Cristiano Ronaldo attacking corners and free kicks.

Ronaldo didn’t score in the match against Espanyol, but he had a decent weekend nonetheless. In a fitting end to an extraordinary year, Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or for the second time, edging out Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery. Ronaldo scored 69 goals for club and country and, incredibly, had more games in which he scored two or more goals than games in which he was held scoreless.

Here are the highlights of Ronaldo’s frighteningly dominant hat trick in the 3-2 playoff win at Sweden, which probably won him the Ballon d’Or. It’s impossible to say what’s most impressive about the performance, as the sheer speed, the composure, the finishing ability, and the self-indulgent celebrations all make a strong claim.

Arabian Gulf League

Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan appears in this space for something he didn’t do over the weekend. For the first time in Group G Watch history, Gyan failed to score for Al Ain. The 0-0 draw against Al Shabab ended a six-game scoring streak for Gyan. Despite the scoreless game, Gyan still leads the Gulf League in goals by four.

Blake Thomsen is a frequent ASN contributor. Follow him on Twitter.

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