U.S. Defender Besler: ‘Completely Stopping’ Germany and Portugal Unlikely
By Duncan Day
A notable cog in the United States’ back line, Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler won’t defer the arduous tasks that lie ahead in the 2014 World Cup. His country will battle for recognition in the almighty “Group of Death”--presenting world powers Portugal and Germany.
Whereas Besler believes that in MLS, “any team can beat any other team on a given day,” international play, especially against sensational teams, is different.
“It’s going to be a challenge when you face guys like those individuals who can change a game themselves. I think it’s a team effort (that’s needed to overcome them),” Besler said.
Portugal, boasting the No. 3 place in the FIFA World Ranking, features Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.
According to Goal.com, the world-class forward has managed 1.11 goals per game (the best total of all-time) for La Liga side Real Madrid. He’s poised to score 50 goals this season for the fourth-straight year.
Ronaldo’s unparalleled mixture of skill and awareness will be joined by the sturdy defensive abilities of his colleague at Real, Fabio Coentrao. Fast-paced dribbler and Manchester United man Nani also joins the dangerous Portugal team.
Besler agrees that a reasonable element of preparation will be necessary for the United States to overcome such talent.
“As the games get closer, we’ll certainly be looking at some film and game planning more specifically,” he said.
On a Joachim Low-led crew that sits at No.2 in the FIFA World Ranking, one cannot single out a dominant player on Germany, a crew abundant with so many excellent footballers.
Veteran captain Philipp Lahm anchors Germany’s back line and numbers among the most caps on the international squad.
Younger players Marco Reus, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller look to make an attacking impact, as both Muller and Reus have notched career-high goal tallies in their respective 2013-14 campaigns. Gotze hopes to prove his worth after making few appearances on the star-studded Bayern Munich.
Besler thinks that slowing down the capabilities of these offensive wizards isn’t his personal role, despite his fairly consistent performances for the U.S. It’s really about impeding an escalation of scoring from these juggernauts, instead of shutting them down completely.
“It’s not going to be one guy having that responsibility. It’s more about containing their players than completely stopping them, (which) is probably out of the question.”
Besler is focused on doing anything needed to prevent the “Group of Death” superstars from taking advantage of the United States. That starts by keeping the score sheet close.
“Simply put, (you can’t) allow the other teams to score. That’s your No.1 job, and it doesn’t matter how you do it. That’s the main focus,” Besler concluded.