Dempsey – AM/ST – 90% Besler – CB – 80% Altidore – ST – 10%
Expected Team (4-4-1-1)
The win over Ghana was a big result for them and their bid to progress from the group of death, but the incredible effort by the players has come at some cost. The physical contest took its toll on the group with Jozy Altidore (hamstring strain) almost certain set to miss out this and possibly the final group game, potentially the remainder of the competition. On top of the striker absence, Clint Dempsey and Matt Besler, two heroic performers against Ghana, both carry knocks.
Besler was having a great game at centre back but taken off as a precaution while Dempsey played a good portion of the second half with a broken nose. The Seattle Sounders striker may have a broken nose but it isn’t going to stop him playing – he is rated a 90% doubt purely to outline he isn’t 100%. However, with Altidore’s hamstring issue, Dempsey is absolutely vital to the USA offensive set up.
Dempsey will play with a facial mask and likely take him a focal point in the attack where Klinsmann seeks to find better hole up and presence. This would mean the USA use Graham Zusi as a fifth midfielder, likely to play on the right side with Bedoya more advanced in a central role – this would see the USA set up in a 4-2-3-1 look. Aron Johannsson and Wondolowski are straight swap options for Altidore, but the States are likely to want to trust Dempsey in the most advanced role and beef up the midfield to help them be more solid across the middle third.
Besler was missed in a second half where USA did concede chances, but it was his replacement John Brooks that made the headlines with his winner, so although Klinsmann said Besler was fine to play, there is a small chance that Brooks gets the nod.
Bench (from): Rimando GK, Guzan GK, Yedlin RB, Chandler RB/LB, Gonzalez CB, Brooks CB, Diskerud CM, Davis CM/LM, Green AM/ST, Johannsson ST, Wondolowski ST, Altidore ST
Tactical Keys to the Game:
• 4 starters from last game out: Pepe banned; Rui Patricio, Fabio Coentrao and Hugo Almeida injured. • Cristiano Ronaldo looks set to defy doctor’s advice and play, despite having severe knee tendonitis. • Given their goal difference they know a win here is almost crucial to have a chance of progression.
Rui Patricio – GK – Injury Pepe – CB – Suspension Fabio Coentrao – LB – Injury Hugo Almeida – ST – Injury
Cristiano Ronaldo – LW/RW/ST – 80%
Expected Team (4-3-3)
Portugal coach Paulo Bento has real problems ahead of his side’s crucial game with USA on Sunday, with four players already ruled out and star man Cristiano Ronaldo still struggling badly with knee tendonitis too.
Ronaldo looks like he is going to defy the advice given to him by his surgeon and play through the pain, regardless of what affect it may have on him in the future. He sees this as the last World Cup he has in his prime and is determined to help drag his country out of the mire that they currently find themselves in following a 4-0 loss to Germany.
Beto and Eduardo will do battle to replace Rui Patricio in goal, with the first choice set to miss the remainder of the group stage with a thigh problem picked up in the opener. Pepe has a two-game suspension for his senseless headbutt on Thomas Müller so will also not play again unless Portugal progress, while Hugo Almeida is another who will only come into contention from the Round of 16 after departing early against Joachim Löw’s team. Ricardo Costa looks set to replace Pepe, though Neto is an option, while Helder Postiga and Eder will go head- to-head for the striking role, with the former likely to get the chance.
Worse news still comes for Fabio Coentrao, who injured his groin
midway through the second half and looks set to miss the rest of the
tournament altogether. Bento has a real lack of cover in the full-back
positions so right-back Andre Almeida will have to deputise on his
wrong side. One unenforced change could see William being brought in for Miguel Veloso to add more bite and pace in midfield.
Bench (from): Eduardo GK, Neto CB, Miguel Veloso DM/CM, Ruben Amorim CM, Rafa Silva AM, Silvestre Varela RW/LW, Vierinha RW/LW, Eder ST
Tactical Keys to the Game:
Bettorlogic Betting Preview:
USA (10) v Portugal (8), Sunday 22nd June 23:00 BST
The USA’s win over Ghana has given them a great chance of making it through to the next round and a repeat of their 2002 World Cup win over Portugal will all but guarantee their progression. Portugal were thrashed in their opener and are struggling with injuries and suspensions to several regular starters.
USA are unbeaten in their last five World Cup matches and they have a good record against European sides of eight wins in their last 14 such games (all of which were friendlies). Furthermore, since 2009 they’ve lost only two of 13 matches against teams ranked 5-15.
Portugal often find scoring difficult as teams mark Cristiano Ronaldo out of the game and the rest of the team simply aren’t good enough. They’ve failed to score in nine of their last 17 finals matches and have won only six of those games.
With Jozy Altidore’s injury for the USA they lack an attacking threat but we expect them to pack the midfield and deprive Ronaldo of space and service. With the Real Madrid star only half fit Portugal look terrible value and we don’t see them winning. A draw would be an excellent result for USA though so we’ll keep that on our side with the double chance.