Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WC 2014: 26th June

Portugal v/s Ghana. A must-win for both teams if they are to have any chance of qualifying to the next round. Portugal are reeling with a less-than-optimal Ronaldo. Ghana were on the verge of a huge upset against Germany but came up with a honourable draw. A draw does nothing for these 2 teams, so I expect them to go for the jugular. Slight edge to the Africans mainly because of the incapacity of Cristiano Ronaldo.

USA v/s Germany. The main question is whether these 2 teams will play for the draw, as such a result will see both go through. The Klinsmann-Lowe connection is just going to fuel conspiracy theories here and raises shades of the 1982 World Cup when Austria and Germany played to a similar draw result to go through. I can't see Germany lose this game. I firmly believe they will edge this encounter and win the group.

Algeria v/s Russia. I've altered my position on this group; I think Algeria will go through at the expense of the Russians. The market still has the Russians as firm favourites for the game, although I am at a loss to explain why. The Algerians have displayed great commitment and purpose in their first 2 games against Belgium and South Korea. With some luck and experience, they could have beaten the Belgians. On the other hand, the Russians are struggling in the heat. They were leg-less in the final minutes of their last match and will again be physically challenged against the quick Algerians. This might end in a draw or an Algerian win and at the end I see Algeria going through.

South Korea v/s Belgium. A draw will be enough for the Belgians to secure top spot, which might eventually mean avoiding Germany in the next round. Since the result of Germany's group will be decided before this match, it seems a certainty that Belgium will not lose this match once Germany is the confirmed winner of its group. If that is not the case, then the Belgium manager might make a calculated risk for this match and field his second team, who knows? With both teams playing at full potential, it is impossible to oppose Belgium here. As expected, the South Koreans have been woeful in this World Cup. They are definitely a punt to finish last in the group. Belgium to win.

Win: Ghana, Germany, Algeria, Belgium

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