Can Ronaldo inspire Portugal to victory over the USA?
After their mauling against Germany, Portugal will need Cristiano Ronaldo at his talismanic best to see off Jurgen Klinsmann's disciplined USA side
The Press Association's MatchStory team have captured advanced data for every goal scored and conceded by the 32 World Cup finalists during their qualifying matches, except Brazil for whom their fixtures in 2013 were used, to build a profile of each team's strengths, weaknesses and playing style.
Eusebio, Luis Figo, Rui Costa and, perhaps the most gifted of them all, Cristiano Ronaldo - Portugal have always produced fantastically skilled players. The United States, in contrast, are relative minnows who rely highly on organised teamwork to grind out results. It is the Portuguese though who currently find themselves at the bottom of Group G, while the Americans are in second place following their absorbing win over Ghana. With rumours circulating about the fitness of Ronaldo, the Stars and Stripes will be hoping they can progress to the knock-out stages with a second win in Brazil.
Free-kicks could be the decider
Despite the 4-0 hammering by Germany (Portugal's heaviest defeat ever at a finals), Nuno Bento's side still showed glimpses of their capabilities early in the first half before Pepe's petulance effectively killed off any chances of success. As expected Portugal were perhaps over-reliant on their star man Ronaldo. The Real Madrid No7 showed little sign of his rumoured knee and thigh problems, and almost scored with a trademark set-piece. Portugal scored a third of their qualifying goals from free-kicks - a feat only surpassed by Nigeria and Iran. This could be an area of concern for Jurgen Klinsmann and his players, as 36% of their goals in the run-up to the tournament were conceded from set-pieces.
Could the United States poach it?
When USA substitute John Brooks grabbed an 86th-minute winner against Ghana in the Group G opener, his goal followed a spell of pressure down the right resulting in a corner, which the German-born defender nodded home from little over six yards. This was no surprise, though - the Americans scored more than a third of their goals from close range during qualifying. With Portugal surrendering 27% of their goals from the same area, while also being equally susceptible to conceding headers, it could prove to be a factor in deciding the outcome of this game.
The United States used a 4-4-1-1 formation against Ghana, defending for large swaths of the game as they tried to protect Clint Dempsey's excellent early strike. Holding midfielder Kyle Beckerman protected his back four superbly, while Tim Howard put in one of the more accomplished goalkeeping performances of the tournament so far. Despite playing much of the game against Germany with only 10 men, when Portugal did have the ball their passing accuracy was 87% - as impressive as most so far at the World Cup. In contrast, the USA managed only 43% possession against Ghana, with a pass accuracy of just 73% - one of the worst in the opening round of games. The Americans may well find themselves chasing the ball for the majority of the game once again.
Klinsmann will be hoping for another disciplined performance from his players. However, if they spend as much time stuck on the edge of their own box as they did against Ghana, they are likely to be punished. Portuguese hopes will, as expected, largely fall on Ronaldo's shoulders and, providing his fitness does not let him down, Real Madrid's talismanic winger could take the Americans apart when the two teams meet on Sunday night at the Arena Amazonia, Manaus.
:: MatchStory is the Press Association's unique approach to delivering insight from football data. We will be providing data-driven previews, analysis and summaries for every World Cup match via the Wire, our website (www.matchstory.co.uk) and Twitter account (@MatchStory).