Day 19 of the World Cup sees two of the tournament's most impressive sides head into action when neighbours France and Germany play Nigeria and Algeria, respectively.
France vs. Nigeria Preview
Date: Monday, June 30
Time: 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET
Prediction: France 2-0 Nigeria
Didier Deschamps' men had gone under the radar heading into this tournament, but it is worth remembering that Les Bleus have reached the final of two of the last four World Cups. Since their 1998 triumph, France's World Cup performances have alternated between the sublime and the disastrous. Only four years ago a general mutiny saw the French bow out with only a point to their name, which perhaps bodes well for this campaign.
They certainly fired a signal of their intentions with a 5-2 demolition of Switzerland, ranked sixth in the world.
After topping Group E ahead of the Swiss, France's reward is a clash with African Cup of Nations champions Nigeria. The Nigerians have been perhaps unfairly overlooked in this tournament. They qualified from a difficult group, scoring two against Argentina and beating a dangerous Bosnia and Herzegovina side in the process.
Going toe to toe with Lionel Messi's Argentina through two Ahmed Musa strikes—becoming the first Nigerian to score two goals in a World Cup match—showed just how dangerous the Nigerians will be for France.
But the Super Eagles' preparation for the clash was hampered when the squad went on strike on Thursday following a dispute over an appearance bonus, as reported by BBC Sport's Ian Hughes.
The French may have flattered to deceive in a 0-0 draw against Ecuador in their final group match, but their camp certainly seems a more harmonious place this time around.
Credit for that can be partly directed at Patrice Evra, the veteran Manchester United left-back who was villainised for his role in the mutinous squad of 2010. This time, Evra is credited with being at the heart of the French drive for success, as tweeted by The Guardian:
Similarly integral will be Karim Benzema, who has been in sparkling form in Brazil with three goals. At the back, the French offer a formidable rearguard with one of the world's finest goalkeepers, Hugo Lloris, and one of its best emerging centre-backs, Raphael Varane.
Nigeria may have notched two strikes against Argentina, but they will struggle to do so again against a rejuvenated French outfit. We have France down for a comfortable victory here—2-0.
Germany vs. Algeria Preview
Date: Monday, June 30
Time: 9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET
Venue: Porto Alegre
Prediction: Germany 3-0 Algeria
Prior to this tournament, Germany's chances in this tie would have seemed a formality. But the Algerians have proved themselves a worthy addition to the World Cup and will give the Germans a stiff examination when they meet in Porto Alegre.
Vahid Halilhodzic's side progressed from a difficult group where they drew with Russia and humbled South Korea 4-2 after they had narrowly lost to Belgium. Key to Algeria's chances will be Islam Slimani, who hit two goals in the group stage.
By contrast, Germany beat the USA 1-0 in their final game after drawing with Ghana and destroying Portugal 4-0.
That will place even greater onus on Thomas Muller, the irrepressible Bayern Munich man who already has four goals to this name in this tournament. It also raises the prospect that Miroslav Klose will play a role after he equalled Ronaldo's World Cup scoring record in the 2-2 draw with Ghana.
Klose will be keen to score his 16th World Cup goal and surpass the Brazilian legend in what will almost certainly be his last tournament.
Speculation has been rife that German coach Joachim Low could face the sack if his side do not perform well in Brazil. Following the elimination of Spain, the Germans certainly look the best bet for European glory in a tournament that is increasingly being dominated by Central and South American teams.
The Daily Mail's Kieran Gill reported that Low's job will be safe whatever the outcome of the Algeria clash. Nevertheless, his worries should be abated for the time being. Algeria have provided entertainment in abundance this summer, but Low's magnificent side will have far too much for the North Africans and will see them off comfortably—3-0.
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