World Cup 2014 – Group G – Match Report: Portugal 2 – Ghana 1

28 Jun

Portugal v Ghana: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Why FIFA?! Why?!

First you force us to watch a World Cup that is devoid of Zlatan because you made us choose between Zlatan and Cristiano. Now, you make me cheer on Cristiano and Portugal at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia for the sole purpose of seeing the USA through to the Round of 16! You are a dirty, corrupt organization (but that’s for completely separate reasons).

Portugal: Boye OG (31’), Ronaldo (80’)

Ghana: A. Gyan (57’)

Lineups:

Portugal: Beto; Amorim, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Pereira; Veloso, Carvalho, Moutinho; Eder, Nani, Ronaldo

Ghana: Dauda; Gyan, Atsu, Agyemang Badu, A. Ayew, Rabiu, Waris, Mensah, Asamoah, Boye, Afful

The drama for Ghana (weird rhyme-y things going on there) began when Ghana’s FA had to fly $3m to Brazil to pay its players, who were allegedly threatening a strike. Then Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng were sent packing the day before the match. There were reports of an altercation with staff during training. It’s not Boateng’s first rodeo. He was suspended from Germany’s U-21 team for 2 years and retired from Ghana’s international team from 2011-2013. He has a history of trouble (and I love him anyway). Rather unfortunate for Ghana. The chaos had potential to seriously undermine the hard work they’d done.

Portugal got Pepe back but were still without Almeida or Postiga up front. And all hearts were hoping for Cristiano Ronaldo to carry them through to the knockout rounds. A large task for anyone, but especially large when such a huge gap had to be overcome for Portugal to make it. Never count Cristiano out, however. Even when there are questions about his fitness.

The match began with Portugal’s attempts to break down the line. But the first real chance came 5 m
inutes in when Ronaldo saw Dauda off his line and attempted a chip from an almost impossible angle. His lovely effort saw only the crossbar, however, and was back in play.

Dauda seemed like he was full of courage for the match, and 10 minutes he came way out and almost couldn’t handle the ball on the bounce. Eder was closing him down quickly, but Dauda managed to clear it before he could make a muck of it.

At almost 20 minutes, Dauda put in his name for man of the match when he saved a Ronaldo header from point blank range. Any of us would have put our money on Crispy to score that, but Dauda was determined not to let it happen. Then he celebrated his save like he’d scored a goal. Just like every single one of us would do as well.

tumblr_n7sdfjS9an1rjev45o1_500Not even a minute later, Gyan had a chance when he brought down a long pass into the box. He shot low but Beto made an impressive save with his feet. He was called into action again when a freekick was floated to the back post and Gyan got a head on it. Ghana were starting to attack and Portugal were starting to get nervous.

But they were helped out by the referee in a very unfortunate way. The ref got in the way of a pass from Ayew. Then a cross from Miguel Veloso took a cruel bounce and Boye’s attempted clearance ended up coming off his knee, the cross bar, the post, and into the net for an own goal.

The first yellow card of the game was shown in the 40th minute when Afful brought Ronaldo down from behind. To be fair, there were a number of times that a card should have been shown before and the ref hadn’t reached to his pocket (I’m looking at you Moutinho).

Boye almost had a second own goal when another cross was played in and he swung at. It came off his knee again and over the crossbar. The half ended shortly, and it was hard to tell who would come out swinging harder in the second half.

Second Half:

Portugal were focused on shutting down Gyan. It was getting frustrating for him but he finally had an attempt on goal and should have finished near post. The ball, however, only found the side netting.

Another yellow card was shown to Ghana when Majeed Waris made a bad tackle on Pepe (that doesn’t get written often, does it?). But Ghana responded beautifully. Gyan headed a gorgeous cross from Asamoah (outside of his foot, people) to the back post to draw level. With the score at 1-1, Ghana’s hopes of continuing were given a boost. The goal also made Gyan the highest scoring African player in the history of the World Cup.

The rest of the match was back and forth (admittedly, I was paying more attention to Germany/USA). Portugal made their first sub in the 62nd minute when Bento decided to bring in Varela, who had scored the late goal against USA, for Pereira. Bento knew he had to attack.

At 70’ Portugal made another substitution. Vieirinha was brought in for the largely missing Eder. And Ghana followed suit, bringing in Jordan Ayew for Majeed Waris. They made another change 5 minutes later when Afriyie Acquah replaced Rabiu.

Another yellow card was shown in the 78th minute to Jordan Ayew. Shortly after, his attempt to cross the ball to Gyan at the back post was too high and too long.

FINALLY, in the 80th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo scored his World Cup goal. Dauda attempted to punch the ball but it only fell as far as Ronaldo and his low, hard shot found the bottom corner. The goal made him the first Portuguese player to score in 3 World Cups and brought his international tally to 50.

In the 89th minute, Portugal made their final sub. Beto had been struggling with a hip injury and Eduardo was brought in to replace him. He was clearly upset and walked off the field crying. He wanted to continue but was having a hard time.

After a couple of frustrating chances for Ronaldo to score, the match ended with Moutinho getting the yellow card he probably deserved. With the match ended, they all looked up to see the result of the match between USA and Germany. Both Portugal and Ghana were being sent home.

tumblr_n7shdsgcaS1rjev45o1_500
And this happened during the match too:

My Notes

Ghana:

This is a team. Ghana fight as a team. And I really respect that. As a USA fan, I needed the redemption of the win in the first match. But as a football fan, I think Ghana play a solid game. They had their drama thanks to Muntari and Boateng but they are a unit in a way that not a lot of national teams are.

The team is largely without superstars and yet they have been fantastic to watch time and time again over the last couple of tournaments. Frustrating? Yes. Fantastic? Yes.

This is the first time in their history that they are eliminated from the group stage. The other nations fear this one on this stage for a reason. Simply put: They are good. They may not be all flash and flair, but they won’t let you walk all over them. By my assessment, they would have moved on in almost any other group. In doing these match reports and the profiles on the teams before this, I am largely disappointed in the lack of coverage given to this nation (and Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire, and Nigeria as well). They deserve much more.

Portugal:

Let me talk about this man, for a moment. I chose that photo for a reason. He is disappointed. And if there is one thing that Cristiano Ronaldo does, it’s that he wears his emotions. When he’s happy, you know he’s happy. When he’s sad, you know he’s sad. When he’s angry, you know he’s angry.

Yes, you can say that Sir Crisps-a-Lot had a bad tournament. I’m not going to tell you that he didn’t. Carrying an injury through the World Cup did not help him. But even if he had been 100 percent healthy, I’m not sure he would have had a much better tournament. And here’s why:

On paper, Portugal looked to be a strong squad. But together, it doesn’t work. They did not look like a unit during qualifying and they did not look like a unit in the match against Germany. In order for Cristiano to be effective (and this goes for any number of players), you need to get the ball to him. It wasn’t Cristiano Ronaldo that was largely shut down, it was the players who needed to make those crucial passes. Did Cris miss some glaring opportunities? Yes. But as Real Madrid fans, we’ve seen him miss glaring opportunities before. Because he does. He is human. What he has with Real Madrid that he does not have with Portugal is that excellent support system. Angel Di Maria’s service is currently being tied up with Messi and Argentina. My precious ginger beard was having a hell of a time with Spain while Isco’s (and Carvajal’s) service was left home. Lady Edith was fighting hard for Croatia. And, probably most disappointingly, Gareth Bale’s Wales didn’t even make it to the World Cup (and haven’t since their sole appearance in 1958).

The world media is going to focus on the failure of Cristiano Ronaldo. They won’t focus on the failure of Portugal as a team. They won’t focus on the large number of injuries that plagued the team, or Pepe’s red card that hindered them defensively (though I really, really liked Ricardo Costa). The media will blame Portugal’s exit on the Ballon d’Or winner. And you know what? So will he. He carries the weight of Portugal’s wins and losses on his shoulders. And he shouldn’t. But we, as fans, and the media will place it there.

I, for one, will take this brilliance against my own country. Because for Real Madrid or against USA, this is stunning skill.

So, Ronnie, take a breather. Take a vacation. Heal. Rest. Come back to Real Madrid and remind people why you are the best player in the world.

-mygypsyspirit

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