MATCHDAY PREVIEW – As the curtain falls on the group stage at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, three more places in the Round of 16 still need to be decided. Belgium are through already, but elsewhere nerves will be on edge, particularly in Group G, where leading duo Germany and USA lock horns in Recife. A draw would send both into the knockout phase, with Die Nationalelf as section winners, though Joachim Low’s side have vowed to pursue all three points. Behind them, Ghana have more realistic hopes of advancing than a Portugal team handicapped by their -4 goal difference. A win for the African hopefuls, whose own goal difference is -1, would haul them level with any eventual loser in the meeting between USA (+1) and Germany (+4).
In Group H, Belgium require no more than a draw against Korea Republic to finish top. A stalemate would probably suffice for Algeria too, given their two-point lead over next opponents Russia and the Taeguk Warriors. In contrast, Fabio Capello’s men will have to take risks in order to claim the win they need, especially as they have scored just once – but that could well play into the hands of Les Fennecs (Desert Foxes), high on confidence and boasting five goals so far.
Portugal-Ghana (Group G), Estadio Nacional, Brasilia, 13h00 (local time)
USA-Germany (Group G), Arena Pernambuco, Recife, 13h00 (local time)
Korea Republic-Belgium (Group H), Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, 17h00 (local time)
Algeria-Russia (Group H), Arena da Baixada, Curitiba, 17h00 (local time)
Did you know?
Friends reunited: Joachim Low served as Jurgen Klinsmann’s assistant at the 2006 World Cup, when the current USA coach held the Germany reins. Klinsmann is the only coach at Brazil 2014 to be facing his home country, but the former striker is used to standing out from the crowd. He was the first player to score three goals or more in three separate World Cups, hitting a trio of efforts in 1990, five in 1994 and three in 1998. That exploit was later matched by Brazil’s Ronaldo and Klinsmann’s own compatriot Miroslav Klose.
Trailblazers: Algeria became the first African team to topple a European rival at the World Cup when they defeated West Germany 2-1 during the group stage in 1982. They have set another precedent this year as well, becoming the first African side to register four goals in a World Cup fixture when they overcame Korea Republic on 22 June. Les Fennecs have also been the most clinical contenders at Brazil 2014, plundering their five goals from just six shots on target.
Dip in form: Cristiano Ronaldo has helped himself to 49 strikes in 113 appearances for Portugal, including 11 in his last ten games. Despite those impressive figures, the Real Madrid star has not found the net in his last three encounters.
Sulley Muntari (GHA)
Treading the tightrope
Nabil Bentaleb, Madjid Bouguerra (ALG)
Rabiu Mohammed (GHA)
Kookyoung Han, Sungyueng Ki, Jacheol Koo, Yong Lee, Heungmin Son (KOR)
Joao Pereira (POR)
Denis Glushakov, Oleg Shatov (RUS)
Jermaine Jones (USA)
Axel Witsel, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen (BEL)
Check it out
Ghana’s Andre Ayew has surprised many with his excellent performances at Brazil 2014, but the Marseille midfielder has never been one to shy away from hard work. He is not afraid to make his voice heard either, as he did when speaking to FIFA.com following the Black Stars’ opening defeat. “You can maybe have one game where you slip up, but you can’t have two,” he said – and so far his team have heeded those words.
Midfielders by trade, Stars and Stripes duo Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey have actually been charged by Klinsmann with spearheading their side’s attack in Brazil. It is a strategy that has worked wonders thus far, so make sure to read our tactical analysis of how their positioning has changed since South Africa 2010.
If you were too young to enjoy Spain 1982 or your memories have become a little hazy, relive the legendary contest between West Germany and Algeria. Rabah Madjer and Lakhdar Belloumi grabbed the goals that left the European titans reeling as the underdogs wrote one of the most stunning chapters in the history of Arab and African football.
On this day
The highest-scoring game at a World Cup unfolded in Lausanne on 26 June 1954, when Austria beat hosts Switzerland 7-5 at the quarter-final stage. All the goals came between the 16th and 76th minutes, with Theodor Wagner notching a hat-trick for the victors and Josef Hugi matching that feat for Die Nati, while Alfred Korner and Robert Ballaman both added doubles. Eventual runners-up Hungary knew a thing or two about scoring as well, and their final tally of 27 goals remains a record for one team in a single edition.
Play and win
The end of the group stage also marks the end of another round of McDonald’s FIFA World Cup™ Fantasy – but there is still a long way to go! The transfer window is set to open soon and you will be able to change your team, strengthen where needed, remove players who have been eliminated and relaunch your bid for some superb prizes. So take your seat in the dugout and collect as many points as possible!