Portugal v Ghana - Match Preview: Manchester United man important

Nani and Lahm Portugal Germany

Nani scored in Portugal's 2-2 draw with USA on Sunday, and he will be desperate to make the same impact in this must win match on Thursday.

To be played on Thursday 26th June 2014 at 17:00. Venue: Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha, Brasília.

Odds: Portugal 5/4, Draw 13/5, Ghana 19/10

Preview & injury news

Portugal and Ghana head into their last group match knowing they have to win to win to have any chance of qualifying for the last 16. Both teams have one point from their first two matches of the tournament, in a group that also contains Germany and the USA. The permutations are quite simple though, Portugal and Ghana know they must win this match and hope either USA or Germany lose in the other group game, then hope there is enough of a goal swing to overtake them via goal difference. This should make the game an attacking one from the start, as both teams know they need to win by a big goal margin, that should result in attacking football and plenty of goals.

Portugal will welcome back Real Madrid defender Pepe into their starting line-up after he served his one-match suspension for his red card during the 4-0 defeat to Germany. Club team mate Fabio Coentrao will be definitely missing for the Portuguese as well as their being doubts over the fitness of both Hugo Almeida and Rui Patricio. Ghana's only injury concern is Michael Essien, the AC Milan midfielder has yet to start a match in the World Cup so far. The Black stars will be without Sulley Muntari, as the midfielder is suspended for the clash after picking up two yellow cards already in the tournament.

Key stats

Portugal have won only one of their last nine World Cup games, drawn four and lost four.

Ghana are without a World Cup clean sheet in six matches.

Portugal have failed to score in six of their last nine World Cup matches.

5 players to watch

Critiano Ronaldo - The World player of the Year for 2013 has struggled on the whole in the World Cup so far, especially as he nurses his knee injury. Despite that, his outstanding cross against the USA in the last minute to set up Silvestre Varela equaliser meant they still have a chance of qualifying out of the Group stages. They will need a small miracle to get through though, and Ronaldo will need to be at his best if they have any chance of going through.

Asamoah Gyan - His goal in the 2-2 draw against Germany was a reminder of how good the striker can be when he is at his best, which was very reminiscent of his form in 2010. No doubt Gyan will feel he can hurt a Portugal defence that has conceded six goals in two matches so far. Don't be surprised if we see him on the score sheet again.

Pepe - After his stupidity in the opening match that warranted his red card against Germany, an incident that cost his side dearly in a 4-0 thumping. Pepe will know he has a lot of making up to do for his country and will need to start on Thursday against Ghana. A lot of pressure will be on him, but he will need to show his defensive skills in this must win match for Portugal.

Michael Essien - With Muntari injured, Michael Essien could come in and replace him in the heart of the Ghana midfield. If he does, he will need to step up to the challenge and be as energetic as Muntari has been in the Ghana midfield. If he does that, Muntari's suspension won't be missed as much as many black star supporters might fear.

Nani - The Manchester United winger is very inconsistent in his form. At times his performances are outstanding, and other times he is woeful. He may have scored against the USA, but there were many moments in the match where he lacked concentration and struggled to impose himself on the match. Portugal, along with Ronaldo, will hope he is at his creative best.

Last time they met

This will be the first time Portugal and Ghana play against each other.

Form Guide

Portugal Form

Ghana Form

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