Fans and punters all over the world are being spoiled by the 2014 World Cup, with the amount of come-from-behind victories currently on pace to obliterate the mark that was set back in 2010 (eight) and goals being scored left, right and centre.
Day 5 of competition doesn't look like it will be any different, as the four teams in Group G start their bids for the 2014 World Cup and Group F's Iran and Nigeria present punters with quite the dilemma.
Read on for a look at the three matches that will be played on Monday, including full game lines via Oddsshark.com, as well as predictions on how the fixtures will play out.
|2014 World Cup Day 5 Schedule, Game Lines|
|Time (BST)||Time (ET)||Team||Game Line|
|5 p.m.||12 p.m.||Portugal||+274|
|8 p.m.||3 p.m.||Nigeria||+128|
|11 p.m.||6 p.m.||USA||+210|
Germany Will Struggle To Win The Midfield Battle
With only one true striker on the squad, it's clear Die Mannschaft are planning to do what they do best in Brazil: monopolise the ball and use quick, incisive passing to break down the opposition.
Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger are two of the world's best central midfielders, but neither is entering the tournament at 100 percent. The squad depth behind them isn't optimal due to a multitude of injuries, and Germany will start their 2014 World Cup with a very difficult opponent in Portugal.
The Portuguese struggled without Cristiano Ronaldo during their preparations for the tournament, but they played teams who prefer to hand the ball to a stronger opponent and aim for the counter. Against Germany, it will be the Iberians looking to take advantage on the counter.
But Portugal are more than just a bunch of athletes looking to out-run defenders. In William Carvalho and Joao Moutinho, they have a very strong presence in the centre of the pitch, and the duo will be looking forward at the prospect of proving themselves against two world-class, but out-of-form players.
Germany usually have little difficulty controlling the midfield battle, and they use that control to devastating effect. Portugal know this, and they'll do whatever it takes to make sure spaces in the centre are tight.
Nigeria Will Discover Iran's Defensive Prowess Is For Real
It's easy to dismiss Iran's sensational defensive record as a by-product of a weaker Asian qualifying region, but the Iranian Lions looked every bit as strong defensively during their preparations as they did during qualifiers.
Carlos Quieroz preaches defence, and his players have listened. Many of them play in the domestic league, and their chemistry is apparent when you see them on the pitch. Space around the Iranian box is tight, and their full-backs hold their line exceptionally well.
Nigeria have a solid team with plenty of attacking options, but their engine hasn't been running smoothly for a while now. Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses are responsible for most of the danger, but too often they're forced to create scoring opportunities for themselves.
That won't cut it against the Iranians, who may lack the talent to match up one-on-one against the duo but will gladly commit a second defender when necessary. Running at the Iran defence usually doesn't work—you either beat them as a team, or you don't beat them.
Ghana Won't Make It 3 In A Row Against The USA
The USA are desperate for a win against Ghana after two consecutive losses to the African side at the last two World Cups, which both resulted in their elimination. The Yanks have come a long way since then, and even without Landon Donovan, this could be one of the deepest teams the USA have ever fielded.
The Ghanaians have gotten younger since 2010, but they haven't lost much in terms of quality. Jordan Ayew emerged as a viable option up front when he scored a hat-trick against Korea Republic, while Kwadwo Asamoah's development with Juventus has been phenomenal.
Ghana are a really good team, but they're not particularly consistent. They rarely dominate matches for the full 90 minutes, and while they have the players to dominate in the centre of the pitch, they will give up some space.
The USA have looked very good in the last few weeks, but most of all they've been efficient. Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley look close to their best form, and they're supported by a well-balanced squad that has done quite a bit of maturing since 2010.
This will be a very emotional match, with the Yanks truly out for revenge. Even if they lose their other two matches, a win against Ghana will almost guarantee their 2014 World Cup is a success. That kind of hunger can be the difference-maker in a match like this, so don't expect history to repeat itself.
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