USA vs. Portugal: Tactical Preview of World Cup Group G Match

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USA vs. Portugal: Tactical Preview of World Cup Group G Match
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

 The first round of group-stage matches is in the books at the FIFA World Cup 2014, and now we turn our attention to the second lot.

USA and Portugal complete the action in Group G on Sunday evening.

 

USA

With a vital win over Ghana under their belts, U.S. optimism levels are hitting sensational heights even at this early stage.

The Black Stars knocked them out of their last two consecutive World Cups, but revenge was exacted here, with the U.S. taking the lead early through Clint Dempsey and clinching the result late via a John Brooks header.

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One of many looks Klinsmann could come up with.

The U.S. will have to negotiate their bout with Portugal without Jozy Altidore up front, and that could force a formation change if midfielder Jermaine Jones is to be believed.

"It’s bad news [Altidore injury], but the team will handle it, he told The Washington Post. "I don’t know how [Klinsmann] will play and what formation he will play. But everybody is ready and wants to make the next step."

They played a deep-set 4-4-2 against Ghana and could well replicate against Os Selecao, but special attention on Cristiano Ronaldo on one side of the formation is a must.

 

Portugal

Portugal's experience in the opening fixture was decidedly more grim, losing 4-0 to Germany and seeing Pepe sent off for headbutting Thomas Mueller after a coming together.

Paulo Bento will need to rejig his XI a little in almost every area, with Hugo Almeida and Fabio Coentrao injured and the latter facing a long wait to return to the pitch.

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They opened with an aggressive stance, pushing Germany high up and forcing mistakes, but the selection error of Miguel Veloso over William Carvalho reared its ugly head, and they gradually conceded ground between the lines.

The U.S. will be slightly easier to contain and Os Selecao will see far more of the ball, but it's a 50/50 fixture given the drubbing they've just received.

 

2 Tactical Clashes

1. CR7

Just what do you do with Cristiano Ronaldo—even if he's only half fit?

Portugal maintain the stance that he's at 100 percent, but his performance against Germany suggests that's not so; even still, against the USA he'll have a great chance to open his account for the tournament.

Against Ghana, Klinsmann played Fabian Johnson on the right side of defence and shifted Geoff Cameron into the middle alongside Matt Besler. Jermaine Jones was deployed at left-midfield to protect DaMarcus Beasley, but could we see the Besiktas man on the opposite side to help contain Ronaldo?

Cameron plus Jones could be the best bet.

Martin Rose/Getty Images

 

2. Method of Attack

Losing Altidore is a big, big problem for the US, and while Premier League fans may sniff at him following a dodgy 2013-14 season for Sunderland, the Yanks are absolutely devastated to see him sidelined.

His finishing can be hit and miss, but he's irreplaceable as a target man running the channels and holding the ball up. When Klinsmann sets his side out to play deep he's a vital outlet, capable of traveling with the ball and dragging his side out from their own third.

Aron Johannsson underwhelmed as his replacement against Ghana, so what direction will the boss go in? Change formation, try Chris Wondolowski or persevere with Johannsson?

 

Bleacher Report will do a tactical preview and review of every single 2014 FIFA World Cup game. Stay tuned to this link and check it every day for more.

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