Portugal v Ghana: World Cup 2014 match preview

Black Stars

  • Venue: Estadio Nacional, Brasilia
  • Date: Thursday 26 June
  • Kick-off: 17:00 BST

Coverage: BBC TV, BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Sport website

TEAM NEWS

Portugal welcome back Pepe after suspension for a game they must win.

However, they have injury concerns over Hugo Almeida and Helder Postiga, while the injured Fabio Coentrao is already out of the tournament.

Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari is suspended after picking up two bookings.

Michael Essien could come in to the side for his first start of the tournament, while right-back Daniel Opare is still out injured.

MATCH PREVIEW

At least one of these sides will definitely be out of the World Cup come the final whistle of this match – and both will go if the USA and Germany draw. Qualification is out of their hands, and Portugal and Ghana must win to have any chance of progressing.

Portugal, by their own admission, have not played like a side ranked fourth in the world by Fifa.

They were awful against Germany and, despite showing signs of improvement against Ghana, this has looked like a tournament too far for a team that has barely changed its personnel over the last three years.

Central to their malaise has been Cristiano Ronaldo, whose frustration at his own fitness and his team-mates has been plain to see.

“We’re probably just an average team,” he said. “I’d be lying if I said we were a top team.”

They have a real uphill struggle to overhaul the Americans in second place as they need a five-goal swing to rectify an inferior goal difference incurred after that thrashing by Germany.

Ghana’s chances are much more positive. Although they must win and hope the Germans beat the USA, they have a much better goal difference and are in better form than the Portuguese, as their superb second-half display against Germany showed.

However, an unseemly row between the squad and the Ghanaian FA has broken out over appearance fees which has cast a show over this fixture.

Ghana’s government is sending more than $3m in cash on a chartered plane to Brazil for the squad as the players have refused the option of having it wired to them.

In a statement, the Ghanaian FA said President John Dramani Mahama “personally spoke to the players” to assure them they will be paid their money.

Ghana’s camp was also rocked earlier this week by a report in the Daily Telegraph newspaper which accused the Ghanaian FA president Kwesi Nyantakyi of agreeing to fix matches, which he has strenuously denied.

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • Ghana and Portugal have never met in an international match.

Portugal

  • The draw with the USA represented the first time Portugal had failed to win a World Cup match after taking the lead.
  • They have won only one of their last nine World Cup games (D4, L4).
  • Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 11 goals in his last 10 matches for Portugal, but none in his last three. He had seven shots against USA, but only one was on target.
  • He is the only player in Portugal’s squad with more than one World Cup goal. Hugo Almeida, Raul Meireles, Nani and Silvestre Varela have one.
  • Nani’s goal against USA was the first scored by Portugal in a World Cup match for 276 minutes.
  • Portugal recorded a pass accuracy of 88.1% against USA, their best rate in a World Cup game since such records began in 1966.

Ghana

  • Ghana are one of only four teams to have taken part in more than one World Cup and not been eliminated in the group stage – along with Germany, Netherlands and Republic of Ireland.
  • Asamoah Gyan should make his 11th World Cup appearance, which would equal the African record held by Francois Omam Biyik of Cameroon.
  • Gyan has five World Cup goals and needs one more to overtake Roger Milla as the all-time top African goalscorer at the tournament. He is the only African to have scored in three World Cups.

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