• Look set to be without 5 players due to muscle injuries, though Pepe is back from his suspension. • Ronaldo still suffering knee tendonitis, but got a crucial assist deep into added time against USA. • Require a 5 goal swing on USA and 3 goals of their own to give them a real chance of progression.
Rui Patricio – GK – Injury Fabio Coentrao – LB – Injury Hugo Almeida – ST – Injury
Andre Almeida – RB/LB – 20% Helder Postiga – ST – 20%
Despite having Pepe back from suspension there appears to be no end in sight of the muscle injury problems that are currently plaguing Paulo Bento’s Portugal squad, with Andre Almeida and Helder Postiga both forced off the pitch early in the 2-2 with USA on Sunday. Both players are set for scans to determine the extent of the problems but it appears highly unlikely that either will be available for selection against Ghana.
With first choice goalkeeper Rui Patricio already set to miss out along with regular left-back Fabio Coentrao and the striker who started the first game Hugo Almeida, Bento’s side is severely depleted. Beto did little wrong when coming in between the posts and should continue, while Miguel Veloso looks set to deputise at left-back with William coming into the holding midfield role as a result. Eder should get the nod in attack despite a very frustrating performance against Jurgen Klinsmann’s team, but Silvestre Varela may come in and play a false nine role after scoring off the bench to salvage a point in that match.
Pepe should replace Ricardo Costa to reprise his usual partnership with Bruno Alves, while Joao Pereira, Raul Meireles, Joao Moutinho and Nani all appear to be guaranteed starters too. Cristiano Ronaldo still did not look at his peak against USA and is clearly feeling the effects of knee tendinitis, but the fact he was able to assist the crucial goal deep into added time shows there is no concern over his stamina at least.
Bench (from): Eduardo GK, Neto CB, Ricardo Costa CB, Ruben Amorim CM, Rafa Silva AM, Silvestre Varela RW/LW, Vierinha RW/LW
Tactical Keys to the Game:
Portugal have not been anywhere near their best in this tournament but have had a glut of injuries to contend with since it kicked off. Their hopes of qualification are hanging by a thread and a big victory is required here to even give themselves a chance, so motivation should be extremely high with Cristiano Ronaldo embodying their determination.
• Experienced midfielder Muntari misses out due to a suspension after being excellent against Germany. • No other major concerns so the coach has plenty of options, but may elect to stick with what worked. • Can qualify with a win, as long as Germany beat USA and there is a 3 goal swing, so motivation high.
Muntari – CM – Suspension
Boye – CB – 80% Boateng – AM/CM – 40%
Expected Team (4-2-3-1)
Kwesi Appiah will be without experienced central midfielder Sulley Muntari for his side’s crucial final Group G match against Portugal on Thursday. Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu and Michael Essien will go head- to-head to replace him alongside Mohammed Rabiu, though the coach also has the option of moving Kwadwo Asamoah there from left-back.
The performance of Asamoah in that position during the impressive 2-2 draw with Germany last time out may preclude him from doing so, however, with a lack of quality options forcing him to play there in the first place. As a result Agyemang-Badu looks the likely selection, with Essien barely seeing any time on the pitch at all so far here in Brazil.
Appiah may decide to start this game with the team that enjoyed such a good second half against the Germans, which would mean Jordan Ayew coming in for the disappointing Kevin-Prince Boateng and playing in the role off Asamoah Gyan. Boateng missed training on Sunday and is an injury doubt, but will probably miss out even if fully fit. Andre Ayew and Christian Atsu were both explosive in the wide positions and this game should suit their talents, while Harrison Afful did excellently when coming into the side for the disappointing Daniel Opare at right-back.
He will join John Boye, who also missed Sunday training but is expected to be fine, Jonathan Mensah and Asamoah ahead of Fatau Dauda, who took Adam Kwarasey’s gloves for the last game and looked quite solid.
Bench (from): Adams GK, Kwarasey GK, Inkoom RB, Opare RB/LB, Sumaila CB, Acquah DM, Adomah RM/LM, Essien CM/DM, Mubarak LM, Boateng AM/CM, Waris ST/RW
Tactical Keys to the Game:
Football Form Labs Betting Preview: Portugal (8) v Ghana (31), Thursday 26th June 17:00 BST
Portugal kept their hopes alive with an equalising goal against the USA in the last minute of injury time. They’ll need results to go their way though and require a significant boost to their goal difference. Ghana, meanwhile, almost beat group favourites Germany and must also win to have a chance of advancing.
Top-10 ranked sides from UEFA don’t have a great record at World Cups against African teams as they’ve won just 12 of 24 matches since 1990 with half those wins being by just one goal. Germany’s draw with Ghana was the latest European failure to win. Portugal are unbeaten against African sides since 1990 but they’ve drawn three of six matches since 2010 including a 0-0 at the last World Cup in their only competitive such fixture.
Portugal have failed to score in four of their six World Cup games since 2010 with three of the matches having fewer than two goals
Since 1992 there have been 10 final group matches at World Cups, Euros, Copa Americas and African Cup of Nations where both teams have been on one point. The higher ranked side has a W4-D2-L4 record with half the matches seeing Over 2.5 Goals and we wouldn’t expect a draw here given both teams need to win.
Ghana were the better team for much of their defeat to the USA who in turn outplayed Portugal in the second round of matches. They’ve conceded just eight goals in their seven World Cup matches since 2010 despite all their opponents having been in the top 16 of our rankings at the time, including two games against Germany. Prior to the World Cup they’d conceded just twice in seven matches with six of the games having fewer than two strikes. Furthermore, four of their five matches against European sides at the past two Finals have had fewer than three goals.
Ghana have looked the better of these two teams so far and Portugal’s only two goals have come from a basic defensive error and a strike in the 95th minute.