Three-time champion Germany probably will coast to a spot in the round of 16, while Portugal, the U.S. and Ghana will vie for Group G’s second slot.
* No Donovan: If the U.S. is to make the round of 16 for a second straight time, it’s going to have to do it without 32-year-old Landon Donovan, the U.S.’s all-time leading scorer whom Juergen Klinsmann left off the squad.
* Ghana Again: The U.S. again will face its nemesis Ghana, which eliminated it from the past two World Cups. Bloomberg Sports analysis predicts a 1-1 tie this time, although a win for the U.S., ranked No. 13 in the world by FIFA, over the 37th-ranked Black Stars in their opening game would considerably boost the Americans’ chances of a second straight trip to the round of 16.
* German Rivals: No. 4 Portugal will be seeking to end a run of three straight defeats in four major tournaments since 2006 against the second-ranked Germans. This time, there’s a 47 percent chance Germany will win 1-0, according to Bloomberg Sports.
* More Than Ronaldo? World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo scored all four goals in a 4-2 playoff win over Sweden to tie the national scoring record with 47 goals and guide Portugal to a fourth straight World Cup tournament. While the team finished second to Russia in its qualifying group, Portugal didn’t only rely on Ronaldo for goals -- seven players scored in the campaign, with Helder Postiga of Valencia contributing a team-best six goals and Bruno Alves adding four.
* Friendly: The U.S.’s chances of reaching the round of 16 may rest on it avoiding defeat in its first two games while counting on Germany to beat Portugal and Ghana. Germany would clinch first place in the group before the final group game against the U.S., which would hold a one-point advantage against Ghana and Portugal. Might German coach Joachim Loew, Klinsmann’s assistant at the 2006 World Cup, rest his best players from Brazil’s heat and humidity and take a narrow loss to the U.S. and his former boss?
* Group Schedule: June 16: Germany vs Portugal, Ghana vs U.S. June 21: Germany vs Ghana. June 22: U.S. vs Portugal. June 26: Portugal vs Ghana, U.S. vs Germany.
* Bloomberg Sports’ Title Chances: Germany - 12.2 percent; Portugal - 6 percent; U.S. - 0.8 percent; Ghana - 0.6 percent.