The 2014 FIFA World Cup will not be an easy one for the United States soccer team. The U.S. has been placed into the ‘Group of Death’ with two power houses (Germany and Portugal) and the team that defeated them during the 2010 World Cup (Ghana). The U.S. will bring some veteran leadership in the form of Everton goalie, Tim Howard. Forward Jozy Alitdore of Sunderland will attempt to lead the offensive charge. The U.S. thrives in the counter attack, keying on its midfielders to help push offensive chances. The counter attack may run into a few speed bumps against Germany and Portugal. Both teams rely on strong midfielder play to limit chances and help power the offensive attack. After the jump, I’ll preview each U.S. opponent and present some official picks.

Opponent #1: Germany

Germany boasts one of the most talented World Cup rosters. They went undefeated through European qualifying. Germany has excellent midfield that will give the U.S. counter attack a lot of issues. Germany does not have a star goal scorer, but their midfield, which is led by MF Mesut Ozil, is among the best in the world.

Opponent #2: Portugal

Portugal qualified for the World Cup after taking down Sweden in the qualifying round. Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick in the win. Portugal’s midfield is excellent and Ronaldo may be the best pure goal scorer in the world. Portgual’s defense is not very good, but the U.S. lacks the offensive fire power to expose it. Portugal has lost to the eventual World Cup champions during its last two appearances. Expect a spirited effort.

Opponent #3: Ghana

Over the last two World Cups, Ghana has advanced out of the groups stages. Alike the U.S.’s other opponent’s Ghana boasts a very powerful midfield, but its defense is very, very suspect. Can the U.S. create enough offensive opportunities to expose this team?

Picks

According to current World Cup betting figures and WCAction.com, Germany is a heavy favorite to advance into the round of 16. Portugal has 2-to-1 odds of advancing while the U.S. and Ghana both boast 9-to-1 odds. I’m fully expecting Germany and Portugal to advance from this group into the Round of 16. Both teams are too well balanced and well coached to lose more than one game.