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World Cup Bracket 2014: Final Group Permutations, Scenarios and Predictions

German national soccer player Thomas Mueller attends a news conference in Santo Andre near Porto Seguro, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. Germany play in group G of the 2014 soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader/Associated Press
Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2014

As we enter the final day of this year's World Cup group stage, only three spots remain unfilled in the round of 16, with hopefuls from Groups G and H poised to clash one last time.

The beauty of Thursday's action is that all eight sides have something to play for, with Group H's Belgium the only outfit guaranteed to progress, but still to seal top spot and a likely easier last-16 draw.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter confirmed the current line-up in the next stage of the tournament:

Germany, USA and Algeria are the current favourites to join Belgium in the knockout stages, but with their tournament hopes on the line, we analyse all possibilities and requirements of each side before moving ahead with the competition.

Remaining 2014 World Cup Group Outcome Projections
Group1st2nd3rd4th
GGermanyGhanaUnited StatesPortugal
HBelgiumAlgeriaRussiaSouth Korea
FIFA.com
Round of 16 Projected Fixtures
Team 1VS.Team 2
Brazil*vs.Chile
Netherlands*vs.Mexico
Colombia*vs.Uruguay
Costa Rica*vs.Greece
France*vs.Nigeria
Argentina*vs.Switzerland
Germanyvs.Algeria
Belgiumvs.Ghana
*Fixture already determined
FIFA.com

 

Group G

Current Group G Standings
TeamWLDGDPTS
Germany10144
USA10114
Ghana011-11
Portugal011-41
FIFA.com

Not only can every nation residing in Group G still advance to the round of 16, but it's also mathematically feasible for any of Germany, the United States, Ghana or Portugal to take first place as their own.

Logic is another argument entirely, though. For example, Portugal head into their deciding fixture against Ghana three points away from pool leaders Germany and eight worse off in terms of goal difference.

RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 25: Thomas Mueller (C) of Germany runs with the ball during the Germany training session ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Group G match between USA and Germany held at Arena Pernambuco on June 25, 2014 in Recife, Brazil.  (Photo by M
Martin Rose/Getty Images

That means Paulo Bento's side would not only need the USA to give Die Mannschaft an unexpected battering, but they themselves would also have to heap a considerable defeat upon Ghana, who looked impressive in their 2-2 draw against the Germans.

Joachim Low's side need just a draw to not only guarantee their progress as Group G victors, but also to ensure the United States come second. However, Bleacher Report's Will Tidey details a particularly interesting storyline that may yet unfold:

It would be easy for Germany to shut up shop, play for the draw and take their spot in the second round by these means, their 4-0 opening win over Portugal putting them in a very fortuitous position.

However, playmaker Mesut Ozil is quoted by the Daily Mail in guaranteeing his side will come out against their Thursday opponents guns blazing: "I believe that as a player we do not play for a draw. We play 90 minutes to score. Our purpose is to do our utmost to win, and that is what we will do. We want to finish top of the group."

Ghana would be particularly happy to see such motivation in Germany's play, as it would then mean a victory over Portugal would be all the more likely to book them a place in the round of 16.

At present, the Black Stars are level on points with the Portuguese but far superior in goal difference, just two behind the USA.

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JUNE 21: Kevin-Prince Boateng of Ghana controls the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Germany and Ghana at Castelao on June 21, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

That means if Germany can beat the Americans by a margin of two goals or more, Ghana need to overcome Portugal by just a one-goal margin to advance. Alternatively, a USA defeat by one goal would mean a more convincing victory over the Portuguese is then required.

As far as group possibilities go, this year's Group G is easily one of the most open—and entertaining as a result—that one is ever likely to see.

Predictions

United States 2-4 Germany

Ghana 3-2 Portugal

 

Group H

Group H Current Standings
TeamWLDGDPTS
Belgium20026
Algeria11013
Russia011-11
South Korea011-21
FIFA.com

Marc Wilmots' men have left it late on both occasions, but two pool-stage triumphs so far in Brazil means Belgium need just a point to wrap up top spot in Group H.

They meet South Korea in Sao Paulo later on Thursday, but while their wins have come by margins of just one goal each, OptaJohan shows a more encouraging aspect of their performances so far:

Should the Red Devils lose, Algeria are the only other team still within reach of first place in the group. And considering they're currently just one inferior to their Belgian adversaries in the goal-difference stakes, things could all so suddenly turn in favour of the North Africans.

Sky Sports' South American correspondent Paulo Freitas believes Algeria can hold up their end of the bargain when they take on Russia, too:

For Fabio Capello's men, things are far more desperate, and after drawing against the South Koreans, they remain level with the Asian representatives on one point apiece.

All Russia require to make it into the round of 16 is a win; there's nothing else to it. They meet the Fennec Foxes in Curitiba's Arena da Baixada, and The Telegraph's Jeremy Wilson tells us that Capello has been preparing for the fixture with new innovation:

The possibilities are a little more open for Algeria. They could place their faith in Belgium beating South Korea, which would mean all they need is to avoid defeat against the Russians and second spot would be theirs.

The other option is to open up and play for the win, which would guarantee them progress regardless of the group's other simultaneous kick-off. The best-case scenario in this instance is that South Korea beat Wilmots' outfit and top spot would be theirs.

Draws in both fixtures would see Belgium and Algeria head through in their current positions of first and second, respectively.

Predictions

South Korea 0-2 Belgium

Algeria 1-1 Russia

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