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Portugal vs Ghana: Rematch of 2014 game on the cards for both sides

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Originally posted on Top-soccer.com

Portugal and Ghana will renew acquaintances as the two sides are set to lock horns on Thursday at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This will be a rematch featuring the EURO 2016 winners and the West African nation, who first met at the 2014 World Cup. On that day, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a winner to give his team a 2-1 victory, and that result will certainly be on the Black Stars’ minds as they prepare to face a familiar foe.

Despite winning that match, Portugal were eliminated, alongside Ghana, while eventual winners Germany and the USMNT secured passage to the round of 16. Eight years later, Portugal are not viewed as favorites to win it per se, but they will be determined to put on a good show especially considering all the drama the team have faced due to Cristiano Ronaldo’s acrimonious exit from Manchester United. The 37-year-old team skipper even went so far as to call a press conference to demand that everyone focus on the team’s efforts and not his battle with his club, but regrettably, with his time at Old Trafford having come to a bitter end earlier this week, there is still a lot of buzz as to what he will do next.

Cristiano Ronaldo hoping that his off pitch drama will not be a distraction as he chases personal record

Naturally, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will be eager to move on past this and put on a good display in order to market himself to his next employers. With this likely being his last World Cup – although with Ronaldo, one really never knows – he will naturally be driven to help take his team as far as possible. Moreover, he is just one of four players – the others being Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose – to score at four different World Cups, so he could write his name in the history books should he, as many expect, find the back of the net at his fifth World Cup this year.

Portugal, thanks to their recent tournament wins (EURO 2016 and the 2019 UEFA Nations League), have been rated as some as potential dark horses, but they are facing an uphill battle against history. Their best result was reaching the semi-finals, and they haven’t done that in 16 years (with a semi-finals finish also happening back in 1966). Fernando Santos’s side have won just three of their last 14 World Cup ties, and have been eliminated during the round of 16 in four of their last five World Cups, and so, will need to get off to a strong start.

Ghana hoping not just to make up the numbers

They might find, however, that the Ghana side they will face is a very different one from 2014. Under the tutelage of Otto Addo, the Black Stars have shown some signs of improvement, with back to back wins in their two pre-tournament friendlies. Notably, they beat both Nicaragua and Switzerland without conceding a goal, but prior to that, were defeated 2-0 by South American giants Brazil and were unable to get the better of current 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar.

As such, it is hard to really predict what to expect from Ghana due to their inconsistent results as of late. They have made some new additions to the squad, namely with Athletic Bilbao’s Iñaki Williams switching from Spain to Ghana after failing to nail down a consistent spot in La Furia Roja’s squad. The Ayew brothers, who were part of the 2014 team, are still there, with elder brother Andre serving as the team’s skipper following Asamoah Gyan’s retirement from international duty, and will hope to help his team avoid the same kind of disaster they suffered back in 2014.

Suffice it to say, both teams will be looking to make a strong start as Group H could turn out to be one of the trickiest at this year’s event.

The post Portugal vs Ghana: Rematch of 2014 game on the cards for both sides appeared first on Topsoccer.

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