Match day 5 is here and on this day we dig into the two matches from the "group of death", plus the remaining match from group F.
Germany vs. Portugal
The day starts off with a bang, as we will see the big match of the day being played first, with Germany taking on Portugal at 1pm local time in Brazil.
This match goes from the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, a stadium with the capacity of 50,000. This will be the second match in this stadium, with Netherlands and Spain having played there three days earlier.
These two countries have a history of playing against one another with a total of 17 matches contested between the two in previous competitions. The Germans hold a head-to-head advantage with 9 victories and the Portuguese have won just 3 times; the two countries played to a total of 5 draws.
This is a big match and while most believe that the winner of this fixture will most likely top Group G, the loser may be in trouble as the other two squads in the group are far from being heavy underdogs. Portugal did not enjoy a smooth qualifying campaign, having to play a play-off match-up against Sweden, while Germany qualified directly to the World Cup tournament finishing head of their group.
Players to Watch
With the Portuguese there is no doubt that all eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo who was nursing an injury before the start of the tournament. His presence (or lack there of) will be crucial for the Portuguese as they nearly always enjoy better performances when Ronaldo is up to the task. For the Germans there are many in the line-up who can make a difference, but for this opening match we will have our eye on 36 year old striker Miroslav Klose. Klose broke Gerd Mullers record of most goals scored for the national team with 69, he will be looking to become the top scorer in World Cup history, with just one goal back he is chasing Brazil's Ronaldo who has got 15 all time.
Iran vs. Nigeria
The second match of the day will be the remaining fixture from Group F, contested between Iran and Nigeria.
The match will be played at brand new Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, with a capacity of of just under 40,000.
Iran and Nigeria have met just once before, with the Africans winning by a score of 1-0.
With Bosnia and Herzegovina losing to Argentina, these two countries will look to grab the early 3 points and put themselves into contention for the second place position in the group. Nigeria has an obvious problem in the forward position and although their attackers are the better known names internationally, Nigeria did not manage to score a lot in the qualifying stages. Iran on the other hand enjoyed a pretty impressive qualifying round finishing first in the group (ahead of Korea Rep.).
Players to Watch
For the Iranians one of the more entertaining players to watch should be Ashkan Dejagah. The Iranian midfielder, who played at all youth levels for the German national squad has shown some impressive attributes this year with his Premier League club Fulham and could be a key whether in the starting XI, or from the bench. Victor Moses could be a key for his Nigeria squad as they struggle to score. We all know Moses could be a prolific goal-scorer if he is on his game, the question is whether he will be up to the task.
Ghana vs. USA
The last match of the day sees the US take on possibly the best African nation in this year's tournament, Ghana.
This match will be played at Arena das Dunas in city of Natal, a stadium that has already hosted the match between Mexico and Cameroon.
Ghana and the US have met on 2 previous occasions, with the Africans coming out victorious both time.
These two nations definitely feel like the underdogs drawn in a group with Germany and Portugal. But if anyone is going to surprise the big teams it will be one of these two squads and therefore they will look to come out quick out of the gates and grab 3 points, as a draw would likely not help either of their causes for a trip to the next round. Klinsmann's USA squad took some heat when call-ups were announced with the omissions of Eddie Johnson and Landon Donovan, the Ghanaian squad on the other hand looks quite solid with quite a few footballers from the top tiers of European football.
Players to Watch
On Ghana's squad I will be looking at captain and striker Asamoah Gyan to make a difference. Although the 28 year old forward has seemed to leave European football behind him with a move to UAE club Al Ain FC, he always seems to provide his national squad with great performances. On the American we will also look at the squad captain, with Midfielder/Forward Clint Dempsey having an amazing season with Seattle Sounders FC in the MLS. Dempsey's strong nature is felt both for club and country, and the 31 year old Texas native will have to put in the performance of his lifetime if USA is to have any chance at qualifying for the next round.
Match-day 5 - Staff Picks
Pedro: Germany 1-2 Portugal, Iran 1-1 Nigeria, Ghana 2-0 USA
Kon: Germany 2-0 Portugal, Iran 1-0 Nigeria, Ghana 2-1 USAIain: Germany 1-0 Portugal, Iran 1-0 Nigeria, Ghana 1-1 USA