B/R Experts' World Cup Predictions: USA Set Sights on Qualification

Alex LivieFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2014

B/R Experts' World Cup Predictions: USA Set Sights on Qualification

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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 scorelines and the Man of the Match awards correct will receive a Bleacher Report goody bag.

Portugal vs. Ghana

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    Alex Dimond: Portugal 1-2 Ghana

    Portugal look like an average team when they don't have Cristiano Ronaldo to bail them out, so much will depend on the Real Madrid forward's fitness in this one. But Ghana look a more united, inspired group at the minute—and that should be enough to get them the win.

    Man of the Match: Christian Atsu

    Atsu has looked lively in both of Ghana's games so far. Perhaps this is the one where that translates into goals.

    Karl Matchett: Portugal 2-2 Ghana

    Both teams need the win and some help from Germany. It could be tight and cagey in the first half—like Germany vs. Ghana—but open up after the break. Portugal’s usual story of struggling to find a top centre-forward is an issue again, but the pace and shape of their game has been poor anyway. Ghana have it in them to win but also to completely blow it.

    Man of the Match: Asamoah Gyan

    Gyan to continue his habit of netting at major tournaments and play a big part.

    Michael Cummings: Portugal 1-2 Ghana

    So Cristiano Ronaldo never really believed Portugal could win the World Cup, eh? If not for that last-gasp leveller against the U.S. (still gutted, by the way), the Seleccao would already be out. Look for a motivated, athletic, dangerous Ghana side to finish them off.

    Man of the Match: Asamoah Gyan

    Speaking of dangerous, Gyan is a lethal finisher almost anywhere in or around the box. American defenders have known this for years. Portugal could be next.

    Sam Tighe: Portugal 1-1 Ghana

    Portugal look dejected and out, but Ghana aren't strong enough to hold them off for a full 90 minutes. As long as Portugal have a shot, they'll keep fighting.

    Man of the Match: Cristiano Ronaldo

    He's had a rough two games, but I'm tipping Ronaldo to finally find the back of the net here.

    Will Tidey: Portugal 3-1 Ghana

    Portugal are a better side than Ghana, and I think they'll go into this one in the same spirit they found against Sweden in the play-offs. They'll win, but will it be enough?

    Man of the Match: Cristiano Ronaldo

    Ronaldo to score twice and exit the tournament with a flourish.

USA vs. Germany

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    Alex Dimond: USA 1-3 Germany

    Jurgen Klinsmann has clearly done a fantastic job with the USA, but that will not be enough to get a victory over the country of his birth.

    Man of the Match: Thomas Mueller

    Mueller is a master at finding space in the final third, and that quality figures to be torture for a U.S. defence that is more brawn than brains.

    Karl Matchett: USA 1-2 Germany

    USA have the capacity to get something from this game if they really need to. But as the match goes on, Germany’s superior technique and movement should cause enough problems to create chances.

    Man of the Match: Mesut Ozil

    It’s high time Ozil put in a top-class performance, not simply a good one. He needs to have a big impact at the tournament, and in a tight game like this, his vision and passing could be key.

    Michael Cummings: USA 2-2 Germany

    I believe that we will draw because I'm irrationally optimistic about this team. And because I think they'll have to draw in order to move on.

    Man of the Match: Tim Howard

    Howard kept the U.S. in the game against Portugal with a pair of jaw-dropping saves late in the first half in Manaus. Germany, most likely, will pose an even greater threat. In order for the U.S. to secure the point needed to advance, Howard must turn in another big performance.

    Sam Tighe: USA 0-2 Germany

    The U.S. will fight tooth and nail to win this one, but Germany's overwhelming quality will be too strong. Die Mannschaft are too experienced to let this one slip.

    Man of the Match: Mario Goetze

    Goetze has been magnificent thus far, and with Thomas Mueller an injury concern, the Bayern Munich man will step up. Again.

    Will Tidey: USA 1-1 Germany

    I would never have predicted this result prior to the tournament, but I think this U.S. team is capable of a point. They were superb against Portugal, and both teams only need a draw here.

    Man of the Match: Tim Howard

    Howard to star again in the U.S. goal, keeping Germany at bay and securing a spot in the last 16.

South Korea vs. Belgium

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    Alex Dimond: South Korea 1-3 Belgium

    South Korea have disappointed in this World Cup and looked abject in spells against Algeria. Belgium, already through, should complete their 100 per cent record for the group stages here.

    Man of the Match: Kevin Mirallas

    Mirallas might get a chance to impress with qualification already secured. He may well take full advantage.

    Karl Matchett: South Korea 1-1 Belgium

    If Belgium make changes, we could see another slow, unimaginative performance from them to begin with. Since they’re already through, they’ll be looking for the odd individual to stake their claim for a starting spot in the knockouts. South Korea have regressed in this tournament and have a lot of work to do.

    Man of the Match: Divock Origi

    After two impressive performances off the bench, he should get his chance to shine from the start. Good movement, pace and the willingness to run—and ability to score—could land him a starting spot in the round of 16.

    Michael Cummings: South Korea 1-2 Belgium

    Belgium haven't really impressed yet, but that hasn't mattered. Thanks to some timely substitutions and even timelier finishing, the Red Devils are on the verge of a perfect record in the group stage. It's hard to see South Korea changing that.

    Man of the Match: Eden Hazard

    The Chelsea man showed a flash of his brilliance in setting up Belgium's late winner against Russia. Facing a South Korea side that almost surely won't be as tight at the back, Hazard could flourish.

    Sam Tighe: South Korea 0-2 Belgium

    Belgium have been thoroughly unconvincing so far in this tournament, but they've got enough in the tank to complete a clean sweep of the group with nine points. South Korea can't defend.

    Man of the Match: Divock Origi

    The Ligue 1 youngster was unheard of coming into the tournament, but his winning goal against Russia should set him up nicely for a start here.

    Will Tidey: South Korea 1-3 Belgium

    South Korea have to win. They won't. Belgium should be relaxed and confident, allowing their talented players to shine.

    Man of the Match: Dries Mertens

    Mertens to again show the world how good he is.

Algeria vs. Russia

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    Alex Dimond: Algeria 1-1 Russia

    Both sides look well equipped to cancel each other out, with Russia the more organised defensive unit and Algeria capable of some dangerous attacking flurries.

    Man of the Match: Alexander Kokorin

    It has been a hit-and-miss tournament for the youngster so far, but Kokorin may make amends (to a certain extent) with a performance in this one.

    Karl Matchett: Algeria 1-0 Russia

    Under Fabio Capello, Russia have gone from exciting and fluid to stilted and unimaginative. Unless he reinstates Alan Dzagoev and Igor Denisov, that won’t change—and they will be going home as a consequence. Algeria won’t even need a win if South Korea don’t beat Belgium, but they’ve shown enough defensive resolution and ability to fashion chances to go out and beat Russia.

    Man of the Match: Rafik Halliche

    Halliche will hold Algeria’s defence together in the knowledge that a clean sheet will get them at least a point, which will be almost certainly enough to see them through—South Korea would have to win by at least three goals to topple them.

    Michael Cummings: Algeria 2-1 Russia

    Algeria were breathtaking against South Korea, although admittedly the Asian side were poor throughout that decisive first half. Russia, meanwhile, have been something between grim and dour. For the sake of this wildly entertaining World Cup, let's hope Algeria can beat out the Russians for a spot in the knockout stages.

    Man of the Match: Islam Slimani

    He might have made a decent gridiron player, if his goal celebration is any guide. And with another strong outing or two, a few clubs might be lining up to show him that money.

    Sam Tighe: Algeria 2-1 Russia

    Algeria were excellent against South Korea, and as long as Vahid Halilhodzic doesn't put the brakes on and go conservative, his Desert Foxes can hurt this poor Russian outfit.

    Man of the Match: Islam Slimani

    Restored to the starting role against South Korea, he showed why he's so dangerous. Expect a repeat.

    Will Tidey: Algeria 2-1 Russia

    Algeria are the hipster team of this World Cup, and I'm not sure Russia have enough to beat them. They have to, of course, which will open up holes for Algeria to exploit at the other end.

    Man of the Match: Islam Slimani

    Algeria's Slimani to score one and set up the other.

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 Tighe 64
    Michael Cummings59
    Karl Matchett 55
    Will Tidey 54
    Alex Dimond 41