B/R Experts' World Cup Predictions: More Messi Magic?

Alex LivieFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2014

B/R Experts' World Cup Predictions: More Messi Magic?

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    Bleacher Report's experts were keen not to rest on the laurels of their efforts of last season, so they will go into battle for the whole of the World Cup.

    Each game will feature a score prediction, combined with a Man of the Match selection (based on FIFA's official decision).

    The predictions are in the following slides, and you will be able to chart their success—or lack thereof—for the rest of the tournament on our daily scoreboard.

    Post your own picks on Twitter and include @br_uk. Anyone who gets all correct scorelines and the Man of the Match awards right will get a Bleacher Report goody bag.

Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Iran

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    Alex Dimond: Bosnia-Herzegovina 0-0 Iran

    Iran showed against Argentina that they are a brilliantly organised defensive side. Bosnia-Herzegovina showed little against Nigeria to suggest they might manage to break through.

    Man of the Match: Andranik Teymourian

    Teymourian was brilliant against Argentina, and he figures to repeat the feat in this one.

    Karl Matchett: Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 Iran

    Bosnia-Herzegovina came close to giving themselves a chance of qualification, but a lack of quality in the final third has ultimately cost them. They should have enough to get past Iran, but it’s not likely to be a terrific match, quite possibly slow-paced and with few opportunities.

    Man of the Match: Miralem Pjanic

    Pjanic to be the one to unlock Iran’s defence.

    Michael Cummings: Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-1 Iran

    Bosnia-Herzegovina were desperately unlucky in their loss to Nigeria. Iran were desperately unfortunate to lose to Argentina following a single moment of brilliance from Lionel Messi. Carlos Queiroz's team are still alive and will again be very tough to beat. But Bosnia-Herzegovina will be looking to make good on what they'll no doubt consider an unjust defeat last time out.

    Man of the Match: Reza Ghoochannejhad

    If they're going to stay alive, Iran must score goals. That may or may not happen, but if it does, Ghoochannejhad will be the main man up top.

    Sam Tighe: Bosnia-Herzegovina 0-0 Iran

    Bosnia-Herzegovina fans will hope Iran's defensive wall comes crumbling down for them, gifting them their first point(s) in a FIFA World Cup tournament. From what I've seen, though, Carlos Queiroz's men look like they've got another stubborn 90 minutes in them.

    Man of the Match: Miralem Pjanic

    It's tough for a defender to get Man of the Match without scoring, so I'll pick Pjanic's creative genius here.

    Will Tidey: Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-2 Iran

    Iran could pull off something really special here. I think they'll beat Bosnia-Herzegovina and scrape through into the last 16 on goal difference.

    Man of the Match: Ashkan Dejagah

    Ashkan "Moves Like" Dejagah to be Iran's star man and send a nation over the top in wild celebration.

Nigeria vs. Argentina

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    Alex Dimond: Nigeria 0-2 Argentina

    Nigeria need a point to be absolutely sure of reaching the next stage of the competition, but a relaxed Argentina surely have too much firepower for a defence that is far less organised than Iran's.

    Man of the Match: Lionel Messi

    Messi's been quite good so far this tournament. If he is not rested, another goal here seems likely.

    Karl Matchett: Nigeria 0-2 Argentina

    We’ve expected better than we’ve seen from Argentina, who have essentially been rescued twice by Lionel Messi. Then again, perhaps this was the plan all along, to silence questions of whether he’s a true world legend of the game simply because he hasn’t won a World Cup himself like Diego Maradona.

    Man of the Match: Lionel Messi

    Messi, then, obviously.

    Michael Cummings: Nigeria 0-2 Argentina

    Argentina must feel fortunate to have six points after two somewhat drab performances. Nigeria must feel fortunate to still be alive at all. It's past time Argentina and Lionel Messi reverted to form.

    Man of the Match: Lionel Messi

    As he showed last time out, all he needs is a single moment to make all the difference. He'll find a few such moments against Nigeria.

    Sam Tighe: Nigeria 0-2 Argentina

    Argentina are through to the knockout stages, but they need a point or more to confirm first place. They'll start fast, win the game as early as possible and begin substituting key players.

    Man of the Match: Lionel Messi

    Messi may not even play, but if he does—and he should—he's good for a goal.

    Will Tidey: Nigeria 0-2 Argentina

    Argentina haven't really got going yet. Opponents are stifling their midfield, and Lionel Messi is being surrounded at his every touch. They'll win without impressing again.

    Man of the Match: Lionel Messi

    Messi will star with two goals to take him level with Neymar for the tournament.

Ecuador vs. France

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    Alex Dimond: Ecuador 1-3 France

    France have been perhaps the standout side of this tournament to date. Even though they are already through, they figure to have too much for an Ecuador side that can threaten them on the break.

    Man of the Match: Olivier Giroud

    The Arsenal forward will be keen to make another big impression, after being slightly outshone by Karim Benzema so far.

    Karl Matchett: Ecuador 1-3 France

    France have been the team of the tournament so far, and they’ll have no wish to let up on their exploits. Ecuador have shown they can trouble good teams, and they are a goal threat from crosses and set pieces, but the European side have too much for them in attack.

    Man of the Match: Karim Benzema

    Benzema to continue his good form in front of goal for his country.

    Michael Cummings: Ecuador 1-3 France

    France put in perhaps the most impressive attacking performance of the tournament against Switzerland, shredding Ottmar Hitzfeld's side to the tune of five goals. In truth, it could have been more, and if France hadn't lost concentration at the end, they could have had a clean sheet to go with all of the goals. Let's see if they can put it all together against Ecuador.

    Man of the Match: Karim Benzema

    Big Benz is in big-time form. He can score goals, and he can provide them for others. The way France are playing at the moment, they can almost name their score.

    Sam Tighe: Ecuador 0-2 France

    France should be able to see off Ecuador here and complete a clean sweep of Group E.

    Man of the Match: Karim Benzema

    Expect Benzema to keep on rolling in the goals in this free-flowing formation.

    Will Tidey: Ecuador 0-3 France

    France will ultimately prove too clinical for Ecuador, who will be surpassed by Switzerland for the second spot in this group.

    Man of the Match: Olivier Giroud

    Giroud to come up with the goods for Les Bleus in this one, scoring twice.

Honduras vs. Switzerland

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    Alex Dimond: Honduras 0-2 Switzerland

    It remains to be seen how Switzerland rebound from the thorough beating they received at the hands of France, but a draw may be enough to advance from the group. Honduras are a physical side, but they do not have the technical skills to frustrate the Europeans forever.

    Man of the Match: Xherdan Shaqiri

    Erratic in the opening two games, Shaqiri has seen many of his skills and dribbles around the box fail to come off. That might change in this one.

    Karl Matchett: Honduras 0-1 Switzerland

    Switzerland will progress with a result better than that of Ecuador’s, so even a draw would suffice if France win. Thus, we might see a cagey opening stage of the game, but in truth the Swiss have far better players than Honduras and should be looking to take the game to them. They need to find a finishing touch (and much more defensive solidity than they displayed against France) but should be fine in the end.

    Man of the Match: Haris Seferovic

    Seferovic to lead the attack, take a battering and score a goal.

    Michael Cummings: Honduras 1-2 Switzerland

    Were France really that great? Were Switzerland really that awful? The truth, as usual, is probably somewhere in the middle. Regardless, the Swiss should have more than enough quality to put a couple of goals past Honduras. The question, after that debacle against France, is whether they can keep goals out.

    Man of the Match: Granit Xhaka

    It took quite a while for Switzerland and Xhaka to get going against France. Fortunately, they won't be facing such a lethal opponent this time. Xhaka will be able to exert his influence on the match.

    Sam Tighe: Honduras 0-2 Switzerland

    Switzerland will be looking to secure qualification from Group E with a victory over Honduras on Wednesday, but the bigger worry is emerging without injury. The Hondurans don't play football like the rest of us.

    Man of the Match: Xherdan Shaqiri

    We've no idea who's set to start up front for the Swiss, but one thing has been constant: Shaqiri is their most influential attacking player.

    Will Tidey: Honduras 0-1 Switzerland

    The Swiss are going to make it through, edging a tense game against Honduras.

    Man of the Match: Xherdan Shaqiri

    Shaqiri to propel his side into the last 16.

Updated Standings

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    B/R Expert Picks

    (One point for correct result, three points for correct scoreline, two points for correct Man of the Match.)

    Sam Tighe58
    Michael Cummings55
    Karl Matchett50
    Will Tidey49
    Alex Dimond35