Monday’s set of matches saw the first glimpse of the teams in the so-called “group of death” featuring a huge clash between Germany and Portugal, with Cristiano Ronaldo playing despite his injury concerns. The other matches saw Ghana take on the USA in the other match in Group G, whilst Iran faced Nigeria.
Iran 0-0 Nigeria
Don’t worry ladies and gentlemen, none of the other matches today were as drab as this (thank God!) Iran and Nigeria faced off with both knowing that a win would really help in the fight for the second qualification spot for the last 16 (assuming Argentina win). However, neither team played particularly good quality football, with Nigeria dominating possession but lacking the killer final ball. Meanwhile, Iran played well considering their lower world ranking and had shots which tested the Nigerian keeper Vincent Enyeama. Post-match, the Nigerian fans booed their team off the pitch, which sums up how the team felt; these were 2 points dropped in the pursuit of the last 16. Iran meanwhile will be happy that they got a point, but this match will not stay long in the memories of World Cup diehards.
Germany 4-0 Portugal
Prior to this match, football fans across the world believed that this would be a titanic clash between a German side now second in the FIFA World Rankings, against Portugal, who had their superstar Cristiano Ronaldo playing despite fitness issues. However, few would have predicted the mauling that Germany would deliver, and the rate at which things went wrong for Portugal. The game was open from the start with both teams having earlier opportunities, most notably a terrible clearance from the Portuguese keeper which went straight to the feet of Sami Khedira, but he missed the open goal.The first German goal of this year’s World Cup wasn’t far away though, a penalty dispatched by Thomas Muller after Mario Gotze was hauled down. Mats Hummels scored the second through a brilliant header from a corner. Then it got even worse for Portugal when centre-back Pepe was sent off for what can only be described as a thoughtless and idiotic headbutt on Muller in reaction to his playacting after being fouled. Germany from now on were in complete command and Muller scored twice more; one was a placed shot at the end of the first half and the second was a scuffed shot after the keeper fumbled a cross, which completed Portugal’s misery. And what of Cristiano Ronaldo you may ask? Well he had a rather quiet game, and save for a couple of shots, including a blistering free kick that Manuel Neuer was equal too, didn’t really have a chance to shine. Germany have showed their tournament-winning credentials, whilst Portugal will need to pick themselves up fast from this defeat, otherwise they’ll be making a shock exit from the competition in the group stages.
Ghana 1-2 USA
In this so-called “group of death”, a win for either side would be crucial in order to keep alive their hopes of progressing further in the competition. I had barely had time to sit on the sofa with a cup of tea when Clint Dempsey dribbled in the box and slotted in after 29 seconds. Striker Jozy Altidore then had his shot blocked by a defender from 10 yards out, before getting injured in what probably was a sadly tournament-ending injury. The game ebbed and flowed from one side to the other and it looked like the USA would hold on to their one goal lead, before Andre Ayew scored to send the Ghanaian fans into ecstacy. However, the USA had the last word, and the last goal, when 21 year old John Brooks scored with a header from a set piece, in what was a very emotional moment. This, coupled with Portugal’s heavy defeat, boosted the USA’s hopes of reaching the last 16, whilst Ghana, following the manner in which they went out in the last World Cup, look like going out again.