B/R Experts' World Cup Predictions: Can Cristiano Ronaldo Fire vs. Germany?

Alex LivieFeatured ColumnistJune 16, 2014

B/R Experts' World Cup Predictions: Can Cristiano Ronaldo Fire vs. Germany?

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    Armando Franca/Associated Press

    Bleacher Report's experts were keen not to rest on the laurels of their efforts of last season, so they will go into battle for the whole of the World Cup.

    Each game will feature a score prediction combined with a man of the match selection (decision will be based on FIFA's official Man of the Match).

    The predictions and analysis can be found on the following slides, and you will be able to chart their success—or lack thereof—for the rest of the tournament on our daily scoreboard.

    Post your own picks on Twitter and include @br_uk. Anyone who gets all correct scorelines and the man of the match awards correct will get a Bleacher Report goody bag.

Germany vs. Portugal

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    Paulo Duarte/Associated Press

    Alex Dimond: Germany 1-1 Portugal

    Germany's side has been so ravaged by injuries and players losing form that they may well struggle to get past Portugal, even if Cristiano Ronaldo isn't fully fit.

    Man of the Match: Joao Moutinho

    FIFA has already shown that its official Man of the Match selections usually go to big names—or the goalscorers—over more deserving candidates. Portugal's midfielders may well dictate the tempo in this game, so if one of them also scores, they may well get the official nod. In this case, I've gone for Joao Moutinho to be that player.

     

    Karl Matchett: Germany 2-1 Portugal

    Germany have an awful lot of attacking options but no standout player to lead the line. Creativity shouldn't be a problem for them in itself, but the movement and penetration needs to be there too. Portugal’s most impressive results have come when they have gotten the ball out wide in attack, with Silvestre Varela in particular delivering quality crosses in the World Cup build-up. Germany should be looking to win the group, which makes this a must-win game for them.

    Man of the Match: Mario Goetze

    The world will be looking for him to perform in a big way after something of a hit-and-miss season and the absence of Marco Reus, so let’s expect a significant answer from Goetze.

     

    Sam Tighe: Germany 1-1 Portugal

    It's unlike Germany to struggle for goals at a major tournament, but Joachim Loew's options look a little slim heading into the contest with Portugal. Marco Reus is out, Miroslav Klose's durability is in doubt—it is, in truth, the perfect time to catch them.

    Man of the Match: Cristiano Ronaldo

    Who else to rescue Os Seleccao in the opener than their saviour, Cristiano Ronaldo?

     

    Will Tidey: Germany 2-1 Portugal

    Much depends on Cristiano Ronaldo, but Germany will prove too strong for Portugal in this one. It will be tight, but Joachim Loew's team will deservedly edge it.

    Man of the Match: Thomas Mueller

    Look for Thomas Mueller to pick up where he left off at the last World Cup. His movement always puts him in position to score goals, and he has a calmness on the big stage.

     

    Mike Cummings: Germany 2-1 Portugal

    Germany have not impressed in warm-up play and have been rocked by the loss of Marco Reus, but there are doubts about Cristiano Ronaldo being fully fit. Expect Germany to edge it.

    Man of the Match: Thomas Mueller

    The Bayern Munich man has a habit of producing the goods on the biggest stage. That's good enough for me.

Iran vs. Nigeria

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Alex Dimond: Iran 1-2 Nigeria

    Iran might just be the weakest side in this competition on paper, although we have already seen in this World Cup that upsets can happen. Nigeria have their own issues—particularly in defence—but they should have just enough to grab an opening three points.

    Man of the Match: John Obi Mikel

    John Obi Mikel has more attacking licence with the national team (something that, arguably, better suits his style than the anchoring role Chelsea demand from him), and his experience at the highest level could prove the difference over the 90 minutes.

     

    Karl Matchett: Iran 1-1 Nigeria

    Iran had a great defensive record in qualifying and have two or three players who can make things happen further up the field, but as structured as they look at the back, they are rigid going forward. Nigeria can have fantastic days, but overall this squad is well below the level the nation has seen previously, and I expect nothing of note from them at the finals.

    Man of the Match: Masoud Shojaei

    His ability to be an outlet for Iran and beat players on the outside is one of the key ways for his side to attack.

     

    Sam Tighe: Iran 0-1 Nigeria

    Nigeria looked rather poor during warm-up games, but Stephen Keshi will have them ready to roll against Iran, and I expect a clean-sheet victory. The Persian Stars' offensive effort is lacking in quality, and the Super Eagles have enough quality to see this off.

    Man of the Match: John Obi Mikel

    The Chelsea midfielder could be playing for his future this summer, so expect him to put on a starring display.

     

    Will Tidey: Iran 1-1 Nigeria

    Iran have a really good defensive record, which suggests Nigeria will struggle to force a breakthrough. I can see Iran going ahead early and Nigeria eventually finding a way late on. These are two closely matched teams, based on their FIFA rankings.

    Man of the Match: Javad Nekounam

    Iran captain Javad Nekounam has a wealth of experience and the ability to score goals. On the biggest stage, he's exactly the type to come good for his country.

     

    Mike Cummings: Iran 1-1 Nigeria

    Iran come into this game as something of unknown quantities, but they have decent quality and could well thwart Nigeria.

    Man of the Match: Javad Nekounam 

    In what could be a tight game, I fancy Javad Nekounam's industry to shine through.

Ghana vs. USA

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    Clint Dempsey will have a big role to play for USA
    Clint Dempsey will have a big role to play for USAKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Alex Dimond: Ghana 1-1 USA

    Fitness levels could be the decisive element in this game, but without having seen either side at the tournament yet, it is hard to know which team will have the advantage. Ghana arguably have better players at their disposal, but the United States are desperate for revenge after coming out on the wrong end of results against the Africans at the last two World Cups. Therefore I see a draw, one that might not help either side in the final group reckoning.

    Man of the Match: Clint Dempsey

    Clint Dempsey is the go-to man for Jurgen Klinsmann, and if the team can get him in the right positions, he could make a big statement.

     

    Karl Matchett: Ghana 2-2 USA

    Ghana's defence looks hideously open at times, but their central power and speed in attack yielded goals in their warm-up games. If Majeed Waris recovers from injury in time for the first game, his partnership with Asamoah Gyan will give plenty of sides problems. USA have a strike pairing in Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey who also mix pace and power with good technique, but plenty of questions remain over the back line. This game should have a few goals.

    Man of the Match: Clint Dempsey

    His use of space is excellent, and he should be the one the side is built around. Get Michael Bradley in support of Dempsey, and his movement and touch will create chances for the U.S.

     

    Sam Tighe: Ghana 2-2 USA

    Ghana vs. USA is a must-not-lose game for either side, as the prospect of chasing points against Portugal and Germany appears truly daunting on paper. It'll be cagey initially, but neither defensive setup is good enough to post a clean sheet.

    Man of the Match: Asamoah Gyan

    There's something about horses for courses. Asamoah Gyan broke USA hearts four years ago; expect him to play a big part again.

     

    Will Tidey: Ghana 1-1 USA

    Ghana are the better side on paper, but Jurgen Klinsmann's USA will be hard to break down and have enough quality to force a goal at the other end.

    Man of the Match: Clint Dempsey

    I'm going for Clint Dempsey here. He's looked very sharp in MLS recently and has a point to prove on the international stage. I can see him scoring.

     

    Mike Cummings: Ghana 1-2 USA

    Ghana denied USA four years ago, but USA have the look of a more streetwise outfit under Jurgen Klinsmann. That could be enough to edge it.

    Man of the Match: Michael Bradley

    Michael Bradley could be the key cog in the U.S. midfield. His work rate, experience and quality can be put to good use.

Updated Standings

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    B/R Expert Picks

    (One point for correct result, three points for correct scoreline and two points for correct man of the match.)

    Sam Tighe23
    Michael Cummings18
    Karl Matchett17
    Will Tidey13
    Alex Dimond8