Arguably the toughest group of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil—Group G—gets underway on Monday with USA, Germany, Portugal and Ghana all getting their campaigns started.
Nigeria take on Iran in Group F for the fifth day of the tournament, and both will be looking to claim victory as they likely aim for second place behind Argentina to qualify for the knockout rounds.
The Germans are one of the favourites to win the competition in South America but are in for a very tough opener against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portuguese side.
Read on for a look at the TV schedule for Day 5 and predictions for how each game is going to pan out.
|Time (BST/ET)||Fixture||Live Stream|
|5 p.m./noon||Germany vs. Portugal||ITV Player, ESPN Player|
|8 p.m./3 p.m.||Iran vs. Nigeria||BBC iPlayer, ESPN Player|
|11 p.m./6 p.m.||Ghana vs. USA||BBC iPlayer, ESPN Player|
Germans to Prevail
Although serial favourites, Germany haven't actually won a major tournament since Euro 1996 when they beat the Czech Republic in the final.
In the last two World Cups, they have reached the semi-finals, while in 2002 they lost to Brazil in the final. They have been very close but have just not quite finished the job.
What will be the Germany-Portugal result?
This could be their year, and they need to get it off to a good start with what would be a confidence-boosting victory over Portugal. And they should do.
Joachim Loew's side is made up of true footballing quality with the likes of Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Mueller.
Bundesliga expert Cristian Nyari provides Bild's projected starting 11 for the Portugal clash which doesn't include star players Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose:
Bild speculating that Lahm will start in Schweinsteiger's place and Ozil will start up front for Germany in Brazil. pic.twitter.com/Fj7gv0b2Ut— Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari) June 9, 2014
That kind of squad depth is just not available to Portugal boss Paulo Bento, and while they have some quality in the side, they are heavily reliant on Ronaldo, as illustrated by their playoff victory over Sweden.
The Real Madrid star is capable of winning a game on his own, but he is unlikely to be operating at full fitness levels having had injury scares in the run up to the tournament, per The Telegraph:
Germany's quality should show through to give them the win, although it is still likely to be a tight encounter at the Arena Fonte Nova.
Prediction: Germany 2-1 Portugal
Ghana and Nigeria to Claim Victories
Nigeria could well be in line to qualify for the knockout rounds of the World Cup, but victory over Iran is absolutely essential on Monday if they want to claim one of the top two spots in their group.
They are the reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions, but they sit one place behind Iran in 44th place in the world rankings, per FIFA.
However, they have a strong team with the likes of Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel and should be good enough to get their campaign off to a winning start.
Equally, Ghana should be able to get a victory over the USA, although it is likely to be a very closely fought encounter.
The Americans overcame Nigeria in a warm-up friendly 2-1, per ESPN FC, but Ghana look to have more quality in their side and should beat the USA.
U.S. earn a win over Nigeria, 2-1 on two goals from Jozy Altidore. Tim Howard earns a win on his 100th cap. Time for the World Cup!— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 7, 2014
As Goal's Ed Dove points out, Ghana have enough strength in midfield that they should be able to control the game and carve out some decent chances.
While Ghana are overburdened with strength in the midfield, and Nigeria on the flanks, Cote d'Ivoire have the most balanced midfield options— Ed Dove (@EddyDove) June 15, 2014
Both of these sides did well in South Africa in 2010, meeting in the last 16 when Ghana prevailed before going out to Uruguay.
It should be a fascinating repeat of that clash, but with Portugal and Germany their other group contenders, it is unlikely either side will go as far this year.
Prediction: Nigeria 2-0 Iran, Ghana 3-2 USA