Day five of the World Cup sees Cristiano Ronaldo begin his campaign in Salvador to lead Portugal to glory. And the Ballon d'Or winner could not face a fiercer opposition than a fast-maturing Germany side.
Ronaldo does not have the same firepower at his back that his great adversary Lionel Messi does when he wears the blue and white of Argentina. It will be up to him to take the game to the Germans.
In a finely posed tie, Ghana face the USA. The result here is pivotal, with the winner having to likely go unbeaten against the powerful Germans and Portuguese in their remaining two ties if they are to qualify.
In the day's final encounter, African Cup of Nations champions Nigeria take on Iran. The Persian Stars are something of an unknown quantity and pose a real risk to Nigeria having been organised excellently by former Real Madrid supremo Carlos Queiroz.
Here's how to make sure you don't miss a moment of the action.
|Full Schedule and TV Information for Day 4 Matches|
|Germany vs. Portugal||5 p.m. (BST)/Noon (ET)||ITV1/ESPN||ITV Player/ESPN Player|
|Iran vs. Nigeria||8 p.m. (BST)/3 p.m. (ET)||ESPN/BBC||BBC iPlayer/ESPN Player|
|Ghana vs. USA||11 p.m. (BST)/6 p.m. (ET)||ESPN/BBC||BBC iPlayer/ESPN Player|
Germany vs. Portugal
One of the ties of the group stage, this pits one of the world's great players against one of its strongest teams.
Endless column inches have been filled in the build-up to this clash over the fitness of Ronaldo, but the man from Madeira is expected to lead his side out despite the effects of tendonitis in his knee. Portugal are far from a one-man team, and Ronaldo's record at World Cups would suggest that they need to function as a team.
The Real Madrid man has only scored two goals in his 10 matches on the biggest stage. Here, he will be supplied by Monaco midfielder Joao Moutinho and will have Madrid teammates Pepe and Fabio Coentrao at his back.
Eduardo Carvalho spoke ebulliently about his Portuguese teammate ahead of the clash, as reported by ABC.
Of course, Ronaldo is good. You're talking about the best player in the world. It's like the other good players in the other teams that can make a difference.
We're ready for anything, but of course with Cristiano it's better for us. Of course we are a group, a lot of good players and nobody wins alone. But of course with Cristiano it's better for us.
Germany will present a very real threat to the Portuguese. Among the favourites for the title, the Germans are expected to name Manuel Neuer and Philipp Lahm in their starting line-up despite recent injury concerns.
Joachim Low has lost the influential Marco Reus in the build-up to this World Cup, but he can still call upon the huge talents of Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Mario Goetze and Julian Draxler to attack Portugal.
The Germans have not lifted the World Cup since they did so as West Germany in 1990. That's a long time for this European powerhouse who will want to win the cup as much for their country as they do for Low, who has overseen the resurgence of the German national side.
Ghana vs. USA
Ghana begin their campaign to overcome the heartbreak of missing out on becoming the first African nation to reach a World Cup semi-final in South Africa.
In 2010, it was Asamoah Gyan who missed the last-minute penalty that would have sent the Ghanaians into a semi-final. Ghana had beaten the USA in extra time in the last 16 in South Africa four years ago.
Key men Gyan, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Michael Essien return this time around when the teams face each other in Natal.
The USA will be without Landon Donovan after Jurgen Klinsmann showed his ruthless side by ditching the talisman. The Americans will not be devoid of experience, however. Clint Dempsey, DaMarcus Beasley and Tim Howard all have collected more than 100 caps and are all likely to start against the Black Stars.
Iran vs. Nigeria
Here we have two sides that excel in the comfort of their home continent, but have struggled to make an impact on the world stage.
Iran currently sit pretty as the top-ranked Asian side, as per the Telegraph's John Ley, but they have only ever won one World Cup match—a 2-1 victory over the USA at France '98. Nigeria's only World Cup victory came in the same tournament in a 1-0 win over Bulgaria.
A triumvirate of Premier League players are expected to lead the attack for the Super Eagles. Peter Odemwingie, Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel are likely to feature heavily for the African Cup of Nations winners.
Carlos Queiroz will have England-based players of his own, and will have to summon all his considerable tactical nous if he is to find a way past Nigeria. Captain Javad Nekounam will likely run the Iranian midfield, while Charlton Athletic’s Reza Ghoochannejhad and Ashkan Dejagah of Fulham should feature.
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