The 2014 World Cup has already seen plenty of goals and upsets in its first few days of competition, and on Monday, the teams in the vaunted Group G will kick off their campaigns.
Group G is often referred to as the "group of death," and for good reason. All four teams have the quality and experience required to progress to the knockout stages, but only two will be left standing when all is said and done.
Three total matches will be played on Monday, so let's have a look at the full schedule for Day 5, complete with TV and live stream info.
|Date||Match||Time (ET)||Time (BST)||TV Info||Live Stream|
|Mon, June 16||Group G: Germany vs. Portugal||12 p.m.||5 p.m.||ESPN/ ITV||WatchESPN/ ITV Player|
|Mon, June 16||Group F: Iran vs. Nigeria||3 p.m.||8 p.m.||ESPN/BBC 1||WatchESPN/BBC iPlayer|
|Mon, June 16||Group G: Ghana vs. United States||6 p.m.||11 p.m.||ESPN/ITV||WatchESPN/ITV Player|
Germany v Portugal
Monday will start with a bang, as tournament favourites Germany will take on Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portuguese teammates.
Portugal struggled in their slate of friendlies playing without their star winger, but when he made his return against Ireland, the team transformed into the offensive juggernaut we know they can be.
The Portuguese may not feature some of the iconic players who came agonisingly close to glory on multiple occasions in the past decade, but this is still a very talented team.
Joao Moutinho had a great season with Monaco, and the prospect of going up against a Germany side weakened by injury and fitness concerns in the centre of the pitch must be like music to his ears.
As shared by Squawka, however, Bastian Schweinsteiger will be fit to face Portugal, despite concerns regarding a knee injury:
The Toronto Sun's Kurtis Larson explains how much of a surprise that really is, considering what happened Sunday:
Bastian Schweinsteiger was airlifted to hospital yesterday from Germany's base... For a scan -- something Germany described as "normal".— Kurtis Larson (@KurtLarSUN) June 15, 2014
The Germans travelled to Brazil with only one real striker in the squad, Miroslav Klose, and they'll want to use their army of talented midfielders to keep the ball away from a Portuguese team that is always a threat on the counter.
Ronaldo's blinding speed and excellent eye for goal make him a nightmare to defend, and how he has recovered from the injury that plagued him at the end of the 2013-14 club season will have a large impact on this match.
Prediction: Germany 2-2 Portugal
Iran v Nigeria
Casual fans may find it difficult to get really excited about this particular fixture, but the makeup of both teams makes this one of the more intriguing matches we've come across yet.
Iran may be unheralded, but there's a reason they're playing in the World Cup—they're good, and criminally underrated. Unlike most of their opponents, Iran feature a host of players from the domestic league. This isn't a group of players thrown together—it's a proper team, and they play like one.
The Persian Stars simply don't concede very often. Their defence understands how to play together and doesn't give up any space, and further up the pitch, they have a number of talented players capable of making the difference, like veteran Javad Nekounam or striker Reza Ghoochannejhad.
The Super Eagles are champions of Africa, but they've struggled mightily at the World Cup in the past and didn't look at all imposing during their preparations.
In Vincent Enyeama, they have one of the world's best up-and-coming stoppers, and the duo of Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike can wreak havoc on any defensive unit when they're on their game.
The Nigerians as a team perhaps have more experience at the highest level than Iran do, but many of their players on the back line and in midfield have only joined the national team in recent years.
In a way, Nigeria are rebuilding, and while they have the talent and potential to make it out of the group stages, they lack the synergy that makes opponents Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina great.
Prediction: Iran 1-1 Nigeria
Ghana v USA
For the third tournament in a row, these two teams will be playing each other, with the Ghanaians ending the tournament for their opponents on the last two occasions.
Third time is the charm, as they say, and the USA's chances of getting past Ghana have never been as good as they are right now.
The Stars And Stripes might be without Landon Donovan, but they're still as talented as they've ever been. Preparations for the tournament went well, and Jurgen Klinsmann chose to bring a nice mixture of experience and youthful talent with him to Brazil.
Michael Bradley's presence in the centre of the pitch is vital for the squad, as he's able to calm the players around him down with nice composure on the ball. His passing is as sharp as ever, and with attacking talent like Clint Dempsey and Aron Johannsson in front of him, the USA usually aren't lacking for goals.
Ghana will be fielding the youngest squad in the entire tournament, per Squawka:
The average age of the Belgium squad is 25.7 years old, only Ghana (25.5) have a younger selection. pic.twitter.com/pFwK2pAt07— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 12, 2014
When the Black Stars are on their game (their 6-1 demolition of Egypt, for instance), they're scary good. But consistency has been an issue of late, and when things just aren't clicking, the results can be pretty ugly (a 1-0 loss to Montenegro being a prime example).
The Ghanaians have a fairly balanced squad, although the best players can be found in the midfield and attacking department. They play a high-octane brand of football built around space on the wing and the counter, and if given the chance, they'll run any opponent off the pitch.
They're not just athletes though—the likes of Kwadwo Asamoah and Sulley Muntari are complete midfielders who will carve you to pieces if you give them space.
Both teams need a win to have any hope of progressing from the vaunted Group G, so Monday's final match should be every bit as fun as the first.
Prediction: Ghana 1-2 USA