It's all up for grabs on Saturday.
With two games in Group F and a key contest between Germany and Ghana in Group G on tap, plenty could be decided on Day 10 at the World Cup. Could Argentina and Germany take a stranglehold on their groups? How will the underdogs fare? Will Nigeria or Bosnia-Herzegovina put themselves in a better position to advance?
So many questions. Below are just some of the answers.
|Group||Team 1||Result||Team 2|
Nigeria Squeak By Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1-0
An own-goal and a disallowed goal ultimately knocked Bosnia-Herzegovina out of the 2014 World Cup.
The former came against Argentina in their opening game, of course. But the latter came against Nigeria in the first half, as Edin Dzeko was incorrectly ruled offside after scoring a goal from a lovely bit of build-up play. Minutes later, Peter Odemwingie scored the game's lone goal, and Bosnia-Herzegovina's first-ever World Cup ended after just two matches.
Bleacher Report UK passes along the goal:
Even that was controversial. As Emmanuel Emenike—who was absolutely brilliant in this match, it should be noted—made his run down the right flank, he cut inside a defender and clipped his feet, bringing him to the ground. That freed Emenike on the ball and, with plenty of time to plan his next move, he slid a perfect pass to Odemwingie who had only to finish.
So you could make a strong argument that Bosnia-Herzegovina had a justified gripe on both the goal that was and the goal that wasn't. The World Cup is many things, but "fair" isn't always one of them.
Bosnia-Herzegovina would come up with several chances throughout the match to equalise, including a chance for Dzeko in the 93rd minute. The Manchester City man chested down a lob in the box, turned and clipped a shot toward goal. He scuffed it ever so slightly, however, giving Nigerian keeper Vincent Enyeama just enough time to get in front of the shot and deflect it off the post.
And that's how close Bosnia-Herzegovina were to remaining in the tournament. But soccer can be cruel. Heck, it was practically the theme of the day at the World Cup on Saturday.
Nigeria deserve credit for playing a great game, and they look likely to advance out of Group F now. But Bosnia-Herzegovina will certainly feel that, while they could have played better, they were also a bit unlucky to be two-and-done in Brazil.
Germany And Ghana Draw in 2-2 Thriller
For Germany, it was Klose. For Ghana, it was no cigar.
Miroslav Klose's historic, equalising goal in the 71st minute was the highlight of a brilliant match between Germany and Ghana that ended in a 2-2 draw. Mario Goetze's head-to-knee goal opened the scoring in the 51st minute before Ghana responded with goals from Andre Ayew (54th minute) and Asamoah Gyan (63rd).
That would set the stage for Klose. Enjoy the moment, shared by ESPN FC:
WATCH Klose's record-equalling goal: http://t.co/TzSUXR74Jd— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 21, 2014
That didn't just pull Germany level with Ghana, it also pulled Klose level with Brazil's Ronaldo atop the World Cup goalscoring list, via ESPN Stats & Information:
Miroslav Klose now has 15 career World Cup goals, tying Ronaldo for the most all-time. pic.twitter.com/10B39fhsVT— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 21, 2014
And as if that wasn't prestigious enough company, consider the following from Paul Carr of ESPN:
Miroslav Klose is the third player to score at four World Cups, joining Pelé & Uwe Seeler.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) June 21, 2014
What a moment.
For the neutral observers, it was a thrilling match. For those supporting Ghana and Germany, it was surely excruciating. For the players on the pitch, it was surely grueling.
In fact, German midfielder Philipp Lahm said as much to Ryland James of the AFP:
Lahm after #Germany's 2-2 draw: It was a gruelling 90 mins, the weather isn't an excuse, we weren't as aggressive & gave them too much room.— DFB_reporter (@rylandjames) June 21, 2014
The result kept open a lot of permutations for Group G. The United States is now in a position to advance to the knockout phase with a victory over Portugal, while a draw in that game would mean both Germany and the United States would simply need to draw when they face in the final group stage game.
For Ghana, the point kept them alive in this tournament, though a victory would have still been preferable. Still, a victory over Portugal in their final game will keep open the possibility they can advance.
It's all up for grabs in Group G. And if the first three games are any indication, the finish should be thrilling.
Argentina Survives Valiant Iranian Effort, Wins 1-0
For 90 minutes, Iran executed their game plan to perfection. For a few seconds, Lionel Messi was sublime for Argentina. In a reminder that soccer can be quite cruel, the latter prevailed.
Despite facing an Iran side that parked the proverbial bus and was oh so close to stealing a point from Argentina, a bit of stoppage time magic from the world's best player was enough for the South American side to escape with a 1-0 win.
Sit back and enjoy the brilliance, folks, via ESPN FC:
With that wonder strike, Argentina are through to the knockout phase. They certainly haven't had decisive performances thus far, but the Argentines are moving on nonetheless.
But let's give Iran some credit. Their strategy—to bunker down, defend in bunches, cautiously go forward on the counter-attack and play for the draw—nearly worked, and was really executed to perfection for almost the entirety of the match. Check out the following stats, via Squawka Football:
Iran did almost everything right. But perhaps Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella said it best, via Tom Marshall of ESPN FC:
Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella on TV: When you have Messi, anything is possible.— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) June 21, 2014
Or maybe Ray Hudson of beIN Sport said it best (as he often does):
Playing against #LionelMessi …it`s like playing poker with a witch….you`re gonna lose.— Ray Hudson (@RayHudson) June 21, 2014
Or wait, no, did the Brazilian announcers calling the game, via Juan Arango of The Telegraph, say it best?
Great line by Brazilian announcers: "Messi is not Argentine. He is Greatness Personified.".— Juan Arango (@JuanG_Arango) June 21, 2014
You be the judge.
But here's what we know—Argentina are through and, no matter what happens in the other games, are a point away from clinching the group. More than likely, they'll win Group F. And more than likely, they'll play either Ecuador or Switzerland in the Round of 16. Suffice to say, their path to the quarterfinals continues to look very favorable.
For Iran, their chances of reaching the knockout phase are not yet extinguished, though they'll likely need to defeat Bosnia-Herzegovina in their final game in Group F. That's no easy task, of course, especially considering they've yet to score a goal in this tournament.
But after their performance against Argentina, it wouldn't be wise to underestimate them. Bosnia-Herzegovina don't have Messi, after all.