2014 World Cup Picks for June 26th
The 2014 World Cup rages on. Wednesday night offered some resolution in Groups F and E, where France, Switzerland, Argentina and Nigeria all survived to move on to the next round.
Groups G and H square off on Thursday night to put an end to the first round, with the top two finishers in each group moving on to the round of 16. USA has a good chance to move on out of the first round, as all they need is a draw to do so. That won’t be easy with a stiff test against Germany, however.
To see if USA can move on and who else might be advancing, let’s break down today four intense World Cup contests:
USA vs. Germany
Serious flooding could end up impacting how fans see the USA/Germany showdown on Thursday – if it even happens. The game is in mild jeopardy until officials can view the field and make a call, but for now still appears to be on as scheduled.
The Thursday afternoon match should be an intense one, despite both teams already holding a ticket into the knockout round if they merely close with a draw. Tying would push both USA and Germany into the round of 16, but neither team is likely to lie down and take it easy.
Germany is the superior team on paper, to be sure, but if USA can merely stay toe to toe with their euro rivals, then they’ll have a good shot at moving on. Germany’s defense and offense have been better through two matches, but the United States has surprised with some spunk and spirited play. In the end, the Americans know all they need is a tie to move on, and they just might get it.
Pick: Draw, 1-1
Portugal vs. Ghana
Portugal and Ghana have both barely stayed alive in the opening round grouping, thanks to draws against the United States and Germany, respectively. Only one can possibly move on to the round of 16, though, and it will take a win to even have a chance.
Both teams would need a win plus Germany or USA to take a win to move on. A draw in the USA/Germany showdown would merely give both teams one point and allow both teams to keep their top two spots.
The world player of the year, Cristiano Ronaldo, will have his hands full against Ghana, as Portugal tries to stay alive. Ronaldo has openly called his own team average, however, while playing subpar soccer himself thanks to a nagging knee injury.
As average as Portugal be and as bad as the odds appear, though, they might have the edge in this one thanks to Ghana kicking two stars (Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Ali Muntari) off the team for verbal and physical attacks within the team. It might not be the ideal scenario for Portugal to get their second win of the first round, but they’ll probably take it.
Pick: Portugal, 2-1
Algeria vs. Russia
Russia still clings to the hope of advancing to the knockout round, as a win over Algeria today could potentially get them in. They hold the edge over South Korea, so as long as they win, they would advance.
Algeria has it’s own hopes, though, as it strives to reach the second round for the first time in 32 years. A win would guarantee their entry into the round of 16, while there would also still be a chance in the event of a draw. However, they would have South Korea breathing down their neck if SK topped Belgium, so a in is clearly in their sights.
Russia is still the favorite here, though, as they’ve displayed far superior defense and control through their first two games. A win and either appear to be in, but Russia has the slight edge.
Pick: Russia, 1-0.
South Korea vs. Belgium
South Korea has the daunting task of trying to move on into the second round with a win over currently undefeated Belgium. Belgium has already punched their tickets into the round of 16 with two quality wins over Russia and Algeria, so a loss or a draw here means nothing for them. A clean sweep could be plenty enough reason to go hard, however.
South Korea is dead in the water with a draw, so they’ll have to go all out and bring the type of offense they brought in a 4-2 loss to Algeria. Even their best offense might not be a match, however, as Belgium’s defense has been nasty. The disappointing part is South Korea would still face an uphill battle to enter round two even if they did score the upset. In the end, Belgium is the heavy favorite and should finish round one with a clean sweep.
Pick: Belgium, 3-1
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