Ghana a hard team to open up
The impression he gives -- and it may be that as the cold of the Veld bites he is being mischievous and looking simply to return to the dressing room -- is that
It seems probable Mensah's back will stand up to the game against the U.S., which prepares the ground for a fascinating physical contest between him and
At fullback, Ghana have
Ghana's real strength, though, is probably the midfield, or at least the defensive aspect of the midfield.
Flanking Annan will be
That leaves just
It is partly because he is able to retain possession even when he is rampaging alone that Ghana have had such success over the past six months. This is a side that has not scored twice in a game since a World Cup qualifier against Mali last November, and yet it reached the final of the Cup of Nations. Four of its last seven competitive games have been won 1-0, all working largely on the principle of getting the ball to Gyan, hoping he does something, and then sitting nine men behind the ball.
Ghana certainly won't be afraid of allowing the U.S. to dominate possession, and that is where U.S.' lack of width may be an issue. Even Germany needed a special goal -- albeit one permitted by a momentary lapse in the marking structure -- to beat Ghana. This is not going to be open game and, even more than usual, it is one likely to be decided by the first goal. Ghana is a fine team at holding a lead; rather poorer, as it showed against Australia, when the onus is on it to take the initiative. Not since that Mali game last November has it successfully overcome a deficit.
The key is probably the extent to which the U.S.' creative players, Donovan and Dempsey, can be brought into the game. Overlapping runs from the fullbacks could create space -- although they must be wary of granting Ayew or Tagoe/Muntari space to advance into, but -- once again, thanks to the string of dogged opponents the U.S. has faced -- it may come down to whether Michael Bradley and his midfield partner can impose themselves and find the range of passing to circumvent Ghana's central midfield trio.