x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

How will Portugal, the United States, Ghana and Germany get on in Brazil?

Germany coach Joachim Loew, left, and Portugal's Paulo Bento. EPA
Germany coach Joachim Loew, left, and Portugal's Paulo Bento. EPA

Can Ronaldo finally light up a World Cup?

Prolific in qualifying for major tournaments, once there Ronaldo usually fails to live up to his billing – in his two previous World Cups, he has a single goal in each. Yet performances began to change at Euro 2012, and Ronaldo is a different animal now. Can carry Portugal’s attacking threat on his broad shoulders.

One-word answer: Yes

Will Germany have enough power with only one recognised striker?

With Kevin Volland surprising omitted from the final 23, Germany tackle the tournament with one out-and-out striker: Miroslav Klose. Granted, he has a remarkable World Cup record, but he turns 36 today. The Germans have a numerous options to play a “false nine”, but at times they will need a focal point. Their defence is a concern, too.

One-word answer: No

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Can Ghana become the first African side to make the semi-finals?

Four years ago, they were a penalty kick away from making history. But Asamoah Gyan missed and Ghana eventually lost in a shoot-out. Even another quarter-final appearance appears a step too far this time. On African soil in 2010, Ghana had their best chance, and spurned it. The squad is marginally poorer now.

One-word answer: No

Will Jurgen Klinsmann rue not taking Donovan?

The decision to leave Donovan behind shocked. He has 156 caps, is his country’s record scorer (57) and, more pertinently, has five goals in three World Cups. And he is only 32. But Klinsmann has apparently always had his doubts. His other attacking options – Green, Brad Davis and Chris Wondolowski – are either untried or appear inferior alternatives.

One-word answer: Yes

Is this pool rightfully tagged the ‘Group of Death’?

It is a tired label, but every tournament must have one. This is one of the two highest-ranked groups: Fifa’s standings have Germany and Portugal second and fourth, with the US 13th and Ghana 37th. However, Group D: Uruguay (7), Italy (9), England (10) and Costa Rica (28, up six) slipped ahead last week. Ghana seem far more dangerous than Costa Rica.

One-word answer: Yes

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