The big match today will be Germany vs Portugal. Joachim Loew knows that the Germans are the favourites in this tournament and if he wants the team to live up to that billing, they have to beat Portugal in their opening group G match.
Portugal will be sweating on the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo but the mercurial forward has said that he is ready for the game at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador.
African nations, Ghana will face the United States in the other group G match at Arenas das Dunas in Natal. In Group F, Asian side Iran will face Nigeria at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba.
All the opening matches have looked exciting so far and I’m expecting these matches to be exciting as well. Here is the preview for Match Day 5.
Germany vs Portugal
I’m looking forward to this match. Just like England vs Italy and Spain vs Netherlands, this promises to be a mouth watering affair for all fans. Who will go in as favourites into this match? I don’t know who will be the favourites because both teams on their day can be really good. Let's start with Germany. The side led by Joachim Loew have done well in international tournaments in recent years but they always end up as bridesmaids. For this match, Germany will have a formidable squad capable of beating any side on their day. Manuel Neuer will be the first-choice goalie and Portugal will have a tough time breaching him. Mats Hummels and lanky Per Mertesacker will be the centre-backs for the Die Mannschaft. Both of them have physical presence but the lack of pace might affect them. Philip Lahm and Jerome Boateng will be the wing-backs against Os Navegedaros. Bastian Schweinsteinger and Sami Khedira will be the pivots for Germany while Mesut Ozil and Mario Gotze will be the attacking midfielders for the side. If Loew decides to play 4-3-3, then Goetze will be shifted to the right-wing and Lukas Podolski will be the left winger. Thomas Mueller will have the freedom to roam around in the penalty box and I’m expecting him to add to his four goals he scored in the last World Cup.
Portugal led by Paulo Bento will be relying on Cristiano Ronaldo for goals and inspiration. Without Ronaldo, Portugal is losing one of their hands. It sounds exaggerated but Ronaldo is key for this Portuguese side. Who will feature against Germany? Rui Patricio is set to star in goal while he will be protected by an experienced backline led by Pepe and Ricardo Costa. Alvaro Almeida and Jose Perreira will be the wingbacks. William Carvalho and Miguel Veloso will be the pivots while Joao Moutinho will be the playmaker for Portugal. Cristiano Ronaldo will be listed as the left-winger but he will everywhere in the front third together with Helder Postiga and Vieirinha.
As a team, Germany has more balance and talent while Portugal, their defence is a worry and the lack of a true finisher might hinder their progress. Arena Fonte Nova is set for a thrilling game but Germany will have the upper hand. It is Germany 2-0 for me.
Iran vs Nigeria
Two of the most unheralded teams in the World Cup are set to face each other in an interesting match-up. Iran led by the charismatic Carlos Queiroz is expected to have a tough time against Nigeria but never take away anything from this Iranian side. No stars, no problem. Thanks to Queiroz, the team has looked more balanced and the collective effort showed by the players culminated in a successful qualifying campaign. Players like Javed Nekounam, Andranik Teymourian, Masoud Shojaei and Ashkan Dejageh are experienced players and they have to churn out consistent performances to help Iran finish in a respectable spot.
Nigeria under Stephen Keshi won the African Nations Cup last year and are expected to give a strong fight for the second spot in group F but knowing Iran's pedigree, it’s going to be tough. However, they know Iran will be no pushovers. Ahmed Musa and Victor Moses will be the key wingers for Nigeria while Joseph Yobo will lead a young Nigerian side. Emmanuel Emenike will be the man for goals and if he impresses, expect him to move to one of the top leagues in Europe.
So, who will win this match? I’m going for a 2-0 for Nigeria.
Ghana vs United States
It’s going to be an intense battle between these two sides. Ghana is known for their physical presence and technical abilities while the Americans are known for their work rate and never say die attitude. The battle will surely be centred in midfield and it will be interesting to see how Kwasi Appiah and Jurgen Klinsmann plan their formations for this match. Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones will have to set the tone for the Americans while Ghana will rely on Sulley Muntari and the skills and guile of Kwadwo Asamoah and Andre Ayew to unlock the American defence.
Close battle but I’m going for a Ghana win. Appiah to steer his side to a 2-1 win.