Germany v Ghana: Key battles - Ex-Chelsea man could star

Michael Essien Real Madrid

Which players will decide the outcome of the clash between Germany and Ghana on Saturday?

Michael Essien v Bastian Schweinsteiger

The former Chelsea midfielder may not have the engine he had before his terrible knee injury, but he still has the talent and discipline to play for a top European club like AC Milan. Because of his knee injury that kept him out for just under a year in 2009, Essien has become more of a holding midfielder than the box-to-box midfielder he was.

Essien didn't start in the defeat to the USA, but did come on late on looking to make a positive impact. His experience is key for Ghana and he will be vital - if they decide to start him - to protect his defence and win his side possession.

Schweinsteiger, like Essien, has played in some big matches in his career. He also didn't start for his country in their opening match, but now that he is fully fit, don't be surprised if coach Joachim Low brings in the Bayern Munich midfielder from the start. Schweinsteiger always looks comfortable on the ball, dictating the tempo for his side and moving the opposition defence and midfield around.

Kevin-Prince Boateng v Jerome Boateng

It's not a particularly tactical battle but the (second) World Cup meeting of brothers Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng will likely steal a fair chunk of the attention ahead of the upcoming Group G match. With Jerome operating at right-back and Prince likely to function through the middle, the pair aren’t likely to be direct combatants. What the reunion may prompt, however, is a special showing from the elder brother, Prince.

The 27-year-old came on during the second half of Ghana’s defeat to the United States and had a positive effect on the side, speeding up the tempo of the midfield and spreading the play to the flanks and bringing in the team’s more dangerous players. Should he start, particularly against his brother, then he will be supremely motivated to deliver a star display and provide a bedrock for Ghana’s offensive.

Jonathan Mensah v Thomas Muller

As they did against Portugal, expect Germany to come out of the blocks with speed, tenacity and intention in Fortaleza. Thomas Muller, along with his other attacking midfielders, will persistently seek space with intelligent lateral movement and incisive passing. The Black Stars will need to be at their absolute best to combat such a dangerous striker, who is in superb form for his country.

Jonathan Mensah is a fine defender, but isn't comfortable when facing tricky dribbling. Muller is someone who is very smart in his movement and always seems to be in the right place at the right time when it comes to rebounds and crosses. Mensah is very strong in the air and will need to be for the Black Stars when marking Muller. 

Muller is in great international form, scoring seven in his last four World Cup matches, but Mensah can keep him quiet. However, the 23-year-old will need help from the rest of his defence and midfield to help him keep Muller, Mesut Ozil and Mario Gotze under check.

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