Identifying the most important players in the 2014 World Cup Group of Death is easier said than done because it's made up of so many important players.
Germany, Portugal, USA and Ghana form Group G, next year's World Cup's most talented division. Here are the most talented of the most talented division—the most important footballer on each club.
4. MF Michael Essien, Ghana
A knee injury forced Essien out of the 2010 World Cup. His absence will motivate the 31-year-old veteran, who must set the tone for Ghana to shock the globe and advance to the Knockout Round.
He isn’t an explosive offensive creator, having two goals and one assist the past two seasons for Ghana, Chelsea and Real Madrid. What he is capable of is wreaking havoc for opposing footballers at midfield trying to get their offense going. And upsets start on the defensive end.
3. F Jozy Altidore, USA
If Altidore performs in the World Cup like he did in the qualifiers, he’ll go down as an American hero. He led Team USA with four goals in CONCACAF action. Altidore also scored seven goals over the span of five international matches this season.
Landon Donovan is 31 years old. Clint Dempsey is 30. For the U.S. to make it out of the Group of Death alive, it needs the more youthful, explosive, 24-year-old Sunderland striker to lead its charge.
2. GK Manuel Neuer, Germany
Neuer started six matches for Germany in the 2010 World Cup. He finished with four wins, three shutouts and 20 saves. And the Germans’ two losses came by the score of 1-0.
He hasn’t lost his touch since then. Neuer has 16 shutouts in 28 starts this season.
He’s the best goalie in the world. That’s what Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon called him in 2011, according to Goal.com’s Clark Whitney. Group G will be hard-pressed to prove him wrong.
1. F Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
Who is most vital to his club's success?
Ronaldo is one of the few strikers in the world capable of carrying his club to victory. That’s why he edges out Neuer, who’s on a stacked German roster, in importance.
The Real Madrid superstar only scored once in four 2010 World Cup matches. Portugal suffered an early exit as a result.
If he improves and scores at the rate he has been this season, the Portuguese will threaten Germany for first place in Group G. Ronaldo has 32 goals in his last 20 starts.
Group Play Grid
Knockout Round Bracket
David Daniels is a Breaking News Writer for Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.