Upsets have defined the 2014 World Cup to this point, and Day 10 features a few teams with the opportunity to mock the oddsmakers and prognosticators and make history in the global game's finest hour.
Iran will take on the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, and his Argentinean allies. If Costa Rica can beat the calm, cool and collected Italians, why not Iran against Argentina?
Germany continued its amazing form from World Cup qualifying with a resounding 4-0 win over Portugal, but a game Ghana—coming off a devastating loss to the United States—has enough speedy and intelligent attackers to keep up with Germany on the scoreboard.
Bosnia-Herzegovina are slight favorites over Nigeria, which gives the Super Eagles the best chance at making underdogs across the world proud on Saturday.
Here is the schedule and TV info for upset-watch on Day 10.
|F||Argentina vs. Iran||12 p.m.||ESPN|
|G||Germany vs. Ghana||3 p.m.||ESPN|
|F||Nigeria vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina||6 p.m.||ESPN|
Let's take a look the match odds, courtesy of OddsShark.com, as well as predictions on whether or not those potential upsets are really in play on Day 10.
Day 10 Match Odds and Predictions
Argentina vs. Iran
Odds: Argentina -718, Iran +2308, Draw +903
Everything is breaking Argentina's way heading into this match.
Argentina got an important breakthrough in its match against Bosnia-Herzegovina, as Lionel Messi opened his World Cup scoring account early in the tournament and headed off lingering questions about the quality of his play for his national team.
Coach Alejandro Sabella also solved a tactical issue by introducing Gonzalo Higuain for Maxi Rodriguez at the halfway point of the Bosnia-Herzegovina match. New York Times editor Andrew Das noted how Higuain suits Messi on the pitch:
Higuain on for Maxi Rodriguez at HT. Seems an admission Messi needs better options in front of him to tie up defenders.— Andrew Das (@AndrewDasNYT) June 15, 2014
A confident Messi tucked in behind the midfield and in front of occupied center-backs is a dangerous proposition.
What will be the outcome of Argentina vs. Iran?
Iran showed the ability to dig their cleats in and hold off the speedy Nigerian team, but it will be overrun by Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel di Maria and the rest.
At the opposite end of the pitch, Iran offers little in the way of an attacking threat. Argentina's weakness is its defense, as Javier Mascherano is essentially chained to the back four as their midfield guardian. Still, Iran forward Reza Ghoochannejhad shouldn't pose much of a threat to the Argentinean back line.
Argentina will dominate possession, outshoot and outplay Iran. Look for Messi and Higuain to both get on the scoresheet and look out for a rout in this one.
Prediction: Argentina 3-0 Iran
Germany vs. Ghana
Odds: Germany -317, Ghana +967, Draw +510
Germany looked lethal against Portugal in its opening World Cup match and will look to continue that brand of attacking success against Ghana.
There's an interesting subplot in this match, as Ghana's Kevin Prince-Boateng will face off against his half-brother, Jerome Boateng.
Prince-Boateng hasn't been afraid to speak out about his half-brother's side, saying the team lacks leaders on the pitch. Via The Guardian's Andy Hunter:
Germany has world-class players in every position and that is their main problem. They have so many good players and need to win the World Cup or at least make it to the final. You need characters when you go into a tournament with so much pressure. I don't see anyone who could handle this and might be able to carry the team along.
Perhaps intangibles aren't necessary for a German squad that looks absolutely dominant on the field.
Thomas Muller scored a hat trick against Portugal, and he's just one player in an attacking contingent that features the likes of Arsenal's Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski. They should have no problem combining in the final third and scoring against Ghana.
ESPN Stats & Info gave a visual display of Germany's passing acumen on Muller's second goal:
Ghana has the speed to punish Germany on the counterattack, which is likely its best chance at netting goals in this one since Germany should enjoy the majority of possession.
Andrew Ayew played well against the United States, and Christian Atsu gave United States left-back DaMarcus Beasley fits throughout the match. USA Today's Mike Foss was particularly impressed by Atsu:
Everyone look away as Christian Atsu makes DaMarcus Beasley forget how to walk.— Mike Foss (@themikefoss) June 16, 2014
Those two will prove difficult to contain for a full 90 minutes, allowing Ghana to break through with a late goal in this one. Ghana also features the shrewd Asamoah Gyan at forward; he can make plays and set up the attack for the Black Stars.
However, Germany should be able pummel Ghana in the attacking third and come away with a comfortable victory.
Prediction: Germany 3-1 Ghana
Nigeria vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina
Odds: Nigeria +344, Bosnia-Herzegovina -108, Draw +264
Nigeria played to a disappointing draw against Iran in its first World Cup match. The Super Eagles were clearly the superior team on the day, as they outshot Iran 10-9 and completed 83 percent of their passes, as per WhoScored.com. Nigeria should fare better against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Saturday.
Nigeria definitely has the players to corral the ball and dictate play. John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses are fixtures in the English Premier League but looked completely out of sorts against Iran; an improved performance from that duo could make things very difficult for Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Mikel was particularly dreadful against Iran, as per WhoScored.com's Twitter account:
John Obi Mikel: Has misplaced more passes (19) than any other player at the 2014 World Cup #NGA— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) June 17, 2014
Squawka Football also noted Moses' poor display:
Victor Moses vs. Iran: 0 chances created, 0 tackles won, 0 aerial duels won, 0 interceptions & 0 crosses completed. #NGA— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 16, 2014
Which player has the best chance of scoring in Nigeria vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina?
Bosnia-Herzegovina don't need the majority of possession to score with Edin Dzeko on the pitch. The Manchester City star was ineffective against Argentina and will need to bounce back to give Bosnia-Herzegovina the attacking verve it needs.
Dzeko can definitely steal a goal off a set piece or poach a rebound shot if Nigeria gets shaky in defense.
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi could make a change and start Peter Odemwingie at forward; his speed and direct approach should open up the defense and net the Super Eagles a goal or two.
Bosnia-Herzegovina looked more polished in its first game, but in the tournament of upsets, it will be the Nigerians who come out on top in this one.
Prediction: Nigeria 2-1 Bosnia-Herzegovina