World Cup fans were treated to a stunning game-winning goal in stoppage time from Switzerland against Ecuador, French domination against Honduras that featured some goal-line technology and the first look at megastar Lionel Messi during Sunday’s action.
Ultimately, France won 3-0 behind the brilliance of Karim Benzema, Argentina won 2-1 behind a goal from Messi and Switzerland won 2-1 in shocking fashion. Sporting News noted that it was as close to a buzzer-beater as we could ask for in group play of a World Cup game:
Take a look at what the standings look like in each group after such a thrilling trio of games before digging into some predictions for Monday’s contests.
|2014 World Cup Group Standings|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||1||0||0||1||0|
Predictions for Monday’s Games
Germany vs. Portugal
Group G may be the “group of death,” but to Germany, it just represents the first three games in what could be a run to a World Cup title.
Germany’s depth and defensive ability will certainly be tested Monday, though, against Portugal and superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. Portugal is ranked No. 4 in the FIFA rankings and poses as the most serious threat to Germany in this group on paper.
Shutting down Ronaldo will likely result in victory for Germany, but that is much easier said than done. He is almost always the fastest player on the field, and it will take more than one defender to keep him scoreless Monday.
Look for Ronaldo to score early with a moment of individual brilliance, but Germany’s elite depth and overall talent will ultimately prevail.
Prediction: Germany 2, Portugal 1
Iran vs. Nigeria
Iran and Nigeria may not make as many headlines stateside as the two Group G games do, but Nigeria could certainly advance to the knockout stages behind powerhouse Argentina in Group F.
Premier League players Victor Moses and Peter Odemwingie lead the attack against what should be a rather vulnerable Iran defense. Neither of these teams has won a World Cup game since 1998, where Iran registered their only win in World Cup history, but Nigeria will rectify that Monday.
They are simply too fast and talented for Iran to stop on the defensive end over the course of an entire 90-minute game.
Prediction: Nigeria 3, Iran 0
United States vs. Ghana
The first match in the group stages of the World Cup is very rarely a must-win, but given the presence of Germany and Portugal in this group, both the United States and Ghana need a victory Monday to realistically have a chance of advancing.
Ghana knocked the U.S. out of the past two World Cups, and midfielder Andre Ayew believes his team will do it again, via ESPN FC:
But we also are winners. We have won twice. And as we say there is no two without three, so we want to try and beat them for the third time. We know it is going to be very difficult. They are prepared but we are also prepared. We are not thinking about what the U.S. side can do. I believe in all our players I believe in the group. If we are fit and we are all 100 percent there is no way that we aren’t going to win this game.
However, only four Americans who were in that 2010 match are likely to start in this game, and those come in the form of familiar veterans Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore.
Ghana has plenty of individual talent and speed across the board, but the Americans are deeper and have the quest for revenge as another form of motivation.
Look for the United States to strike on a counterattack in the second half after somewhat of a sluggish game that is overshadowed by the high-pressure stakes from the beginning. That will be enough to notch the critical three points with Howard in goal.
Prediction: United States 1, Ghana 0
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