USA vs. Portugal
Sunday, June 22nd
United States (The Yanks)
Players to watch:
- Aron Jóhannsson, forward: Assuming Jozy Altidore is out, Jóhannsson will likely be back in. The young Icelandic-American had trouble holding the ball at times against Ghana though he was okay in 1 on 1 situations.
- Michael Bradley, midfield: Had a very rough go against Ghana. He missed passes and was weak in the tackle. USA will need a rebound against Portugal.
- Jurgen Klinsmann: The game plan worked well enough against Ghana to earn the win even with the loss of Altidore and Besler. How will he adjust the strategy to contain what is sure to be a surging Ronaldo? We'll find out.
Portugal (Selecção das Quinas)
Players to watch:
- Cristiano Ronaldo, forward: The best player in the world was all but silent against Germany. Most of that was Germany but Ronaldo is still dealing with lingering health issues. He's also angry. We probably wouldn't want to see him when he's angry.
- Ricardo Costa, defense: Costa came in and replaced Pepe after Pepe was ejected. Pepe is generally considered Portugal's best defender.
- João Moutinho, midfielder: A stellar passer who's had a bad season with Monaco. If there's someone else under more pressure to play well for Portugal other than Ronaldo, it's this guy.
- Paulo Bento: Portugal was forced to play a 10-man squad vs. Germany that eventually did not include two defensive starters in Pepe and Coentrao. It will be interesting to see how Bento rearranges the lineup against USA.
Portugal will be without starters Pepe, Fábio Coentrão, and Hugo Almeida, How do you stop Cristiano Ronaldo? That will be the game plan for the United States. As Germany proved, hold him, you hold Portugal. It would seem that the Team of Shields is depending too much on their star striker. It will be another strong test for Bradley and company in the midfield. Germany was able to move forward, hold the ball, keep possession, and continually pressure Portugal. The Yanks will need to get guys in the box. That didn't come easily against Ghana but it has to happen against Portugal for the USA to have a chance. On the other hand, injuries may just render Portugal ineffective altogether.