Group G Watch
Starting Now, ASN Will Track Key Group G Players
How is Mesut Ozil doing with Arsenal? What about Schalke's Kevin Prince-Boateng? And Thomas Muller? With this recurring feature, Blake Thomsen will keep you informed as the World Cup approaches.
WELCOME TO THE FIRST-EVER
December 12, 2013
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Group G Watch, a recurring ASN feature that will keep you up to date on the doings of Group G players likely to feature against the United States in the 2014 World Cup. It's one of the many ways we hope to make you an extremely informed American supporter as the Yanks prepare to face Ghana, Germany, and Portugal in a quartet many consider to be the Group of Death. Let's go!
Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil (Germany) continued his excellent run of form as he scored his side’s only goal in a 1-1 draw against Everton and Tim Howard last weekend. Ozil now has two goals and two assists in his last three games.
Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle scored two superb goals on Saturday against Geoff Cameron and Stoke—both with his weaker left foot—before coming off after 69 minutes with a minor calf injury. Schurrle only missed out on a stunning hat trick when his curled effort rebounded off the crossbar (all highlights below). It was a frightening reminder of the kind of talent that Germany has, as the Chelsea man isn’t even a regular starter for the national team. Injuries and the presence of Oscar, Eden Hazard, and Juan Mata have limited his starting opportunities for Chelsea, too. But if he continues to play like he did against Stoke he won’t remain out of Jose Mourinho’s preferred XI for long.
Chelsea vs Stoke City 2-3 by FootyLight0
Germany’s Bayern Munich brigade had an up-and-down week, obliterating Werder Bremen 7-0 in league play over the weekend before falling to Manchester City 3-2 on Tuesday in the Champions League. Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze each delivered a goal and an assist in the win against Bremen. Toni Kroos provided an assist on a set piece as well. See below for video of Muller’s clinical finish (assisted by Gotze) and Gotze’s delightful individual goal (assisted by Muller) against Bremen—at the 3:34 and 5:24 mark, respectively.
Muller and Gotze were back at it again on Tuesday, each scoring within the first 12 minutes to give Bayern a seemingly insurmountable lead. But the Premier League club raised a surprising comeback and center back Jerome Boateng (Germany) gifted City the win with a horrible missed clearance, which James Milner duly punished.
All Goals - Bayern Munich 2-3 Manchester City... by video4all
U.S. Group G foes played a prominent role in Borussia Monchengladbach’s 2-1 win over Schalke in the Bundesliga. Ghana’s Kevin Prince-Boateng drew a penalty for Schalke and also nearly scored a late equalizing header. His Schalke teammate Benedikt Howedes (Germany) was sent off for a second bookable offense, with the foul leading to rising German star Max Kruse’s game-winning penalty.
Borussia Monchengladbach 2:1 Schalke 04 (15... by Gladbachpl
The struggling Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) scored for just the 15th time in has last eight games in Real Madrid’s comfortable Champions League win at FC Copenhagen. He was the beneficiary of a clever headed pass from international teammate Pepe, who was forward following a corner. Ronaldo did prove that he may in fact be human, though, as he missed a second-half penalty.
ESPN’s Paul Carr tweeted this excellent graphic of Ronaldo’s recent penalty results (paying attention, Tim Howard?).
Yesterday saw the conclusion of the Champions League group stages, which means the tournament’s final 16 teams have been established. Due to the progression of all four Bundesliga teams in the competition—as well as Chelsea and Arsenal—only a handful of German players with a shot at making the squad for Brazil will not be involved in the knockout stage. It’s a testament to the rise in quality of both the Bundesliga and the German national team—only Spain and perhaps Brazil will have a remotely comparable percentage of their national team competing in the final stages of the world’s top club competition.
Portugal will have its share of Champions League representatives as well. The Real Madrid trio of Ronaldo, Pepe, and Fabio Coentrao will be involved yet again, as well as Manchester United’s Nani. Both Benfica and Porto—each carrying multiple Portuguese national team members—finished third in their groups. They will head to the Europa League, where they have had considerable success in recent seasons.
Ghana will be represented in the final 16 by Schalke's Prince-Boateng and Sulley Muntari from AC Milan. Chelsea’s Michael Essien is into the knockout stage, too. But the aging legend has scarcely played this season and didn’t do himself any favors by gifting Southampton a goal in his only league start. Kwadwo Asamoah will be looking to Costa Rica for sympathy after he and Juventus were eliminated in the snow at Galatasaray.
And guys, for the third time in the last four years, Jermaine Jones will be the USMNT’s only “Champions League [knockout stage] player.”
Ronaldo aside, which player do you think is the biggest individual threat in Group G? How important is it to have players playing in the Champions League right before the World Cup?
Blake Thomsen is an ASN contributor and Princeton dropout (kind of). Make his day and give him a follow on Twitter.