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World Cup preview: Group G rundown

World Cup preview: Group G rundown
A group of U.S. soccer players runs drills during a training session in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)

A look at the teams competing in Group G at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil:

WORLD CUP PREVIEW

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GROUP G

GERMANY

FIFA world ranking: 2.

Last World Cup: 2010.

Best World Cup finish: Three-time champion (1954, '74, '90).

How qualified: UEFA Group C winner.

It's a fact: Sparing no expense in its drive for a fourth World Cup title, Germany's soccer federation built its own training center in Brazil from scratch. It features more than a dozen two-story housing units, a soccer field, a media center and treatment facilities.

The skinny: About the only thing that figures to keep Germany from its third straight trip to the semifinals are injuries since a number of front-line players are banged up. But even at less than 100%, Germany is talented enough to go deep in the tournament. More worrisome is the weather. If Germany wins its group and advances to the final four, its semifinal will be played in Belo Horizonte, where the humidity is typically above 90% in early July.

GHANA

FIFA world ranking: 37.

Last World Cup: 2010.

Best World Cup finish: Quarterfinals (2010).

How qualified: Beat Egypt in CAF playoff.

It's a fact: Ghana has played in just two World Cups, and it eliminated the U.S. by 2-1 scores both times — in the group stage in 2006 and in overtime in a knockout-round game in 2010. That's not likely to happen this time because Ghana and the U.S. meet in their group-play opener.

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The skinny: Ghana comes into this World Cup still smarting from the way the last one ended, with a quarterfinal loss in which Asamoah Gyan missed a penalty kick after Uruguay's Luis Suarez stopped what would have been a game-winning goal with his hand. Michael Essien, a box-to-box midfielder who missed the last World Cup because of injury, will be the key to Ghana's performance this time around. Gyan returns as the primary striker but he may not be the best Asamoah on the team since midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah was named the country's top player the last two years.

PORTUGAL

FIFA world ranking: 4.

Last World Cup: 2010.

Best World Cup finish: Third place (1966).

How qualified: Beat Sweden in UEFA playoff.

It's a fact: Cristiano Ronaldo, the world's best-paid soccer player, recently admitted he has no idea how much money he has. He probably has trouble keep track of how many cars he has, too; it's a considerable — and growing — collection that includes an Aston Martin DB9, a Bugatti Veyron, a Maserati, a Lamborghini, a Bentley, a Rolls-Royce, at least two Ferraris and multiple Audis.

The skinny: With the reigning world player of the year on its roster, Portugal has been mocked as "Cristiano Ronaldo and 10 other guys." There may be some truth to that, though, because with Ronaldo sitting out the team's final two World Cup warmups with knee and thigh problems, Portugal struggled through a scoreless tie with Greece and then needed a goal in stoppage time to beat Mexico. And even with Ronaldo it couldn't beat Israel in World Cup qualifying, twice playing to a draw. Despite being ranking fourth in the world, Portugal and Ronaldo both look vulnerable.

UNITED STATES

FIFA world ranking: 13.

Last World Cup: 2010.

Best World Cup finish: Third place (1930).

How qualified: CONCACAF winner.

It's a fact: When DaMarcus Beasley steps on the field in Brazil he will become the first U.S. player to appear in four World Cups.

The skinny: If the group goes to form, the most logical way for the U.S. to advance would be on goal differential after beating Ghana in its opener and then playing Portugal to a draw. U.S. Coach Juergen Klinsmann has already said getting to the second round would make this a successful World Cup for his team. The U.S. is solid in goal with Tim Howard and in midfield with Michael Bradley. But the backline is inexperienced at this level and up front the U.S. hasn't gotten a World Cup goal from a striker since Brian McBride scored in 2002.

SCHEDULE

June 16: Germany vs. Portugal in Salvador; Ghana vs. U.S. in Natal.

June 21: Germany vs. Ghana in Fortaleza.

June 22: U.S. vs. Portugal in Manaus.

June 26: U.S. vs. Germany in Recife; Portugal vs. Ghana in Brasilia.

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