Portugal v Ghana – World Cup preview

The Group G finale is live on the Red Button and the BBC Sport website

Portugal v Ghana (Group G), Red Button/BBC Sport website (kick-off 5pm)


It will be a great shame if this is the last we see of Ghana. Infuriating in their 1-2 loss to the USA, exhilarating in their 2-2 draw with Germany, it’s almost impossible not to support them as a neutral. But they do need to win one. Both their games so far have seen them play in an almost self-parodically wasteful and heedless manner, despite having easily enough talent and expertise to deserve a place in the last 16.

Ghana are certainly without Sulley Muntari, who they normally rely on to bind the team together, and probably star playmaker Kevin-Prince Boateng too. Why? Muntari was suspended for this match anyway but both players have reportedly been expelled from the team camp, in Muntari’s case because he allegedly slapped a member of the Ghanaian equivalent of the FA. Oh, Ghana.

Portugal are lacking Fabio Coentrao and have decisions to make over Hugo Almeida and Helder Postiga. Pepe returns from suspension to bolster the defence.

The only question with regard to Portugal, however, is the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo. Amid reports that he is risking his career by playing on with an unhealed injury, he hauled himself through the thriller against the USA and was almost hopping on one leg by the end, making no effort at all to track back and leaving his team, as they so often have been in recent years, vulnerable down their left flank. (Ghana, ominously, have been strong down their right in both games so far.) Yet it was Ronaldo who found half a yard with seconds to go and then delivered the perfect cross for Portugal to equalise and keep their hopes dimly alive.


Ronaldo didn’t celebrate, perhaps because he knows he can’t now be the star of the tournament. At this stage, getting them out of the group is a Herculean task: Portugal might need to win big here.