Germany get their 2014 World Cup up and running on Day 5 with a much-anticipated clash with Portugal at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador.
Potentially one of the best games of the group stages, Joachim Loew's side should have enough to overcome Portugal, but it is likely to be a very tight encounter.
Elsewhere on Monday, USA take on Ghana in a repeat of the last 16 tie from 2010 in South Africa, and Nigeria face Iran.
Both the African nations have very good chances of picking up an early victory, which would see them well placed to make it through to the knockout rounds.
Read on for a look at the key players involved on another day of World Cup action on Monday.
|World Cup 2014: Day 5 Fixtures and Predictions|
|5 p.m./noon||Germany vs. Portugal||2-1|
|8 p.m./3 p.m.||Iran vs. Nigeria||0-2|
|11 p.m./6 p.m.||Ghana vs. USA||3-2|
Stars to Watch
An obvious one but for a very good reason. Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably the best player in the world at the moment, and his form will be absolutely key if Portugal are going to go deep into the tournament in Brazil.
Paulo Bento's side are in one of the most difficult groups, and they have their most challenging match in their opener against a very strong German side.
Ronaldo will need to be at his very best if Portugal are going to beat Loew's side, as the strength in depth the Germans have is bettered by few—if any—of the other sides in the tournament.
Worryingly for Portugal, Ronaldo has had some injury scares ahead of the game but is apparently fit and ready to take full part in the clash, per Agence France-Presse:
He bagged a quite extraordinary haul of 48 goals in 41 La Liga and Champions League games last season, per WhoScored.com, and single-handedly dragged Portugal through their playoff against Sweden to make it to the World Cup.
Whether he has enough to see off the German team is another matter all together but will be established on Monday when the two sides meet.
Golden Boot winner in 2010, Thomas Mueller is one of many stars in the Germany side, and he could prove absolutely crucial against Portugal and in the rest of the tournament.
Loew's squad is not long on out-and-out strikers and Bild's predicted side for Monday's clash does not include a genuine front man, per Bundesliga expert Cristian Nyari:
Thus, Mueller's goalscoring ability and creativity will be essential if Germany are to breach the Portuguese defence and claim a win in their opening match.
Brazilian legend Pele clearly rates him very highly indeed, saying that—along with Mesut Ozil—he was the player he most feared, per Goal.com:
The 24-year-old claimed 13 goals and 10 assists in the Bundesliga last season, per WhoScored.com, and will be a major threat going forward.
If he plays in Brazil like he did four years ago when he emerged as one of the tournament's best players, Portugal could be in trouble.
The USA have a tough group in this year's World Cup and are unlikely to produce the heroics of 2010 when they made it to the last 16.
However, if they are going to pull off a shock or two, they will need Sunderland striker Jozy Altidore to fire, which he has not been doing for his club all season.
He scored only one Premier League goal in 31 appearances in 2013-14, per Squawka, but netted twice as the U.S. beat Nigeria in a World Cup warm-up game, per football writer Graham Ruthven:
USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann is confident of the 24-year-old's ability and is relying on him performing, per Louise Taylor in The Guardian:
"We believe Jozy is going to play a very big World Cup," said the 49-year-old German. “We think he will confirm our trust.”
His physicality and powerful shot are great assets to the team, but he will need to be on top form if the U.S. are to overturn Ghana on Day 5 of the World Cup.
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