Valladares 48' (OG)
Kolašinac (OG) 3'
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Ecuador struck early on an Enner Valencia header at the end of a perfect free-kick cross, and held on for the rest of the first half. Early in the second half, though, the Swiss leveled when Admir Mehmedi found himself unmarked on a corner. Forty-five minutes later, we were on the verge of the 2014 Cup's first draw... and then, just as Ecuador seemed to have a chance three minutes into stoppage time, Switzerland regained the ball on a turnover, broke free, and Seferovic slotted home the winner to give the Swiss a brilliant opportunity to advance.
France and Honduras made two of us look like we're smart. For about 44 minutes, Ahearn was right. Then I was right, but it took Wilson Palacios earning his second yellow card and an early shower to get to that point. That yellow, the result of plowing into Paul Pogba in the box, resulted in a penalty kick which Karim Benzema drilled home. Honduras had no chance from that point, down a man. Benzema scored again just a couple of minutes into the second half, but as of this writing it's still being ruled an own goal on Honduran keeper Noel Valladares. (It's not supposed to be an own goal when the ball still crosses the goal in the process of an attempted save; the argument is that Benzema hit the post and as a result the save attempt wasn't a save attempt, but we'll see how it shakes out.) About 25 minutes later Benzama drilled one high to the far post off a rebound, scoring his second goal, or his third if you like. And that was that. France still has to deal with Switzerland, but they should be in fine shape.
Things went bad before your cold drink had time to start condensating in the nightcap. Argentina won a free kick which Marcos Rojo headed ineffectually... but Sead Kolašinac was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the ball glanced off his boot into the net. The defenses held for the next hour, but then Lionel Messi worked his way through traffic and fired one off the post -- and in. With five minutes left, though, Bosnia gave itself a lifeline when Vedad Ibiševic rolled one toward the net which Sergio Romero got a hand on, but couldn't quite control. The Dragons mounted a furious attack in the final five minutes to try and steal a point, but weren't able to get another solid chance at the net. The loss isn't exactly damaging to Bosnia; for the Albaceleste, the win probably ensures passage to the knockout rounds.
|MATCH||TIME (CT)||NETWORK||GROUP||TEAMS / SITE||ANNOUNCERS||ODDS|
Germany vs Portugal
Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
Iran vs Nigeria
Arena da Baixada, Curitiba
Ghana vs United States
Arena das Dunas, Natal
Game 12: Germany-Portugal
Yet another bombshell game in the first rotation. Germany and Portugal have met 17 times, with the Germans taking nine to Portugal's three, with five draws.
|GERMANY (4-2-3-1 OR 4-3-3)|
|1||Goal||Manuel Neuer||Bayern Munick (GER)||28||45||0|
|20||Back||Jérôme Boateng||Bayern Munich (GER)||25||39||0|
|17||Back||Per Mertesacker||Arsenal (ENG)||29||98||4|
|5||Back||Mats Hummels||Borussia Dortmund (GER)||25||30||2|
|4||Back||Benedikt Höwedes||Schalke 04 ()||26||21||2|
|Bayern Munich (GER)||30||106||5|
|6||Midfield||Sami Khedira||Real Madrid (ESP)||27||46||4|
|13||Forward||Thomas Müller||Bayern Munich (GER)||24||49||17|
|8||Forward||Mesut Özil||Arsenal (ENG)||25||55||17|
|10||Forward||Lukas Podolski||Arsenal (ENG)||29||114||47|
|11||Striker||Miroslav Klose||Lazio (ITA)||36||132||69|
Joachim Löw has a little juggling to do with the ankle injury suffered by Borussia Dortmund winger Marco Reus. Die Mannschaft are tipped to come out in a 4-2-3-1 as above, but that could shift to a 4-3-3 with Lahm sliding to the back line in place of Höwedes while Toni Kroos takes Lahm's place in the midfield. Bastian Schewinsteiger would replace Khedira, slotting into the center midfield, with Özil sliding back to take the other flank. Up front, Müller and Podolski would simply close the gap with Klose. Both of those potential replacements play for Bayern Munich.
|1||Goal||Eduardo Carvalho||Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)||31||34||0|
|21||Back||João Pereira||Valencia (ESP)||30||36||0|
|2||Back||Bruno Alves||Fenerbahçe (TUR)||32||72||10|
|Real Madrid (ESP)||31||58||3|
|5||Back||Fábio Coentrão||Real Madrid (ESP)||26||45||4|
|4||Midfield||Miguel Veloso||Dynamo Kyiv (UKR)||28||49||2|
|16||Midfield||Raul Meireles||Fenerbahçe (TUR)||31||74||10|
|8||Midfield||João Moutinho||AS Monaco (FRA)||27||68||2|
|17||Forward||Luis da Cunha
|Manchester United (ENG)||27||75||14|
|9||Forward||Hugo Almeida||Besiktas (TUR)||30||55||19|
Cristiano Ronaldo Aveiro
|Real Madrid (ESP)||29||111||49|
Only a few potential changes for Paulo Bento's side. For the first time through all these quick previews, there's actually a question as to who will be in goal; Sporting keeper Rui Patricio may don the gloves for the Navigators ahead of Eduardo. We might also see Sporting's William Carvalho in midfield in place of Veloso, and Nani might give way to Porto forward Silvestre Valera.
Age may be a problem for Germany up front, and while this should be a banger Portugal is probably the safer bet. Callum Hamilton has SB Nation's full preview.
Game 13: Iran-Nigeria
It's the worst game of the first passthrough, and it's not even close. It's the second meeting all-time between the two squads, and Iran will try to even the record.
|IRAN (4-4-1-1… probably)|
|22||Goal||Daniel Davari||Eintract Braunschweig (GER)||26||4||0|
|23||Back||Mehrdad Pouladi||Persepolis (IRN)||27||20||0|
|5||Back||Amir Hossein Sadeghi||Esteghlal (IRN)||32||17||1|
|4||Back||Jalal Hosseini||Persepolis (IRN)||32||85||6|
|20||Back||Steven Beitashour||Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS)||27||6||0|
|7||Midfield||Masoud Shojaei||Las Palmas (ESP)||30||50||5|
|14||Midfield||Andranik Teymourian||Esteghlal (IRN)||31||79||8|
|9||Midfield||Alireza Jahanbakhsh||N.E.C. (NED)||20||7||1|
|21||Forward||Ashkan Dejagah||Fulham (ENG)||27||14||4|
|16||Striker||Reza Ghoochannejhad||Charlton Athletic (ENG)||26||14||10|
Because of the nature of this game (i.e., nobody really cares) combined with the low profile of the Iranian squad, even guesses about Team Melli's probable lineup are sparse. One thing is certain: there's nobody noteworthy who's not expected to walk onto the pitch at kickoff; every player on the squad playing first division football outside the Middle East should be named by Iran's Portuguese boss Carlos Queiroz.
|13||Back||Juwon Oshaniwa||Ashdod (ISR)||23||10||0|
|14||Back||Godfrey Oboabona||Çaykur Rizespor (TUR)||23||35||1|
|22||Back||Kenneth Omeruo||Middlesbrough (ENG)||20||17||0|
|5||Back||Efe Ambrose||Celtic (SCO)||25||37||1|
|10||Midfield||John Obi Mikel||Chelsea (ENG)||27||59||4|
|17||Midfield||Ogenyi Onazi||Lazio (ITA)||21||21||1|
|15||Midfield||Ramon Azeez||Almeria (ESP)||21||2||0|
|11||Forward||Victor Moses||Liverpool (ENG)||23||22||7|
|9||Forward||Emmanuel Emenike||Fenerbahçe (TUR)||27||23||9|
|7||Forward||Ahmed Musa||CSKA Moscow (RUS)||21||35||5|
On the other hand, Nigeria's lineup seems settled. Monaco defender Elderson Echiéjilé was injured in the Super Eagles' pre-cup friendly with Greece and was thus removed from the roster; Oshaniwa is the best guess at his replacement, but Stephen Keshi could go in any number of directions.
This game will be dull, but it's not really because it's the two worst teams in the tournament or anything like that. There is talent on these rosters. It's just that there aren't many players of note on these squads, and their style of play is not going to result in exciting football. Kevin McCauley checks in with SB Nation's match preview.
Game 14: United States-Ghana
And finally, the Americans make their debut. In the last two World Cups, Ghana has rammed the dagger into the American heart. Can the Stars and Stripes finally get revenge?
|UNITED STATES (4-4-2)|
|1||Goal||Tim Howard||Everton (ENG)||35||100||0|
|7||Back||DeMarcus Beasley||Puebla (MEX)||32||116||17|
|5||Back||Matt Besler||Sporting KC (MLS)||27||17||0|
|20||Back||Geoff Cameron||Stoke City (ENG)||28||27||1|
|23||Back||Fabian Johnson||1899 Hoffenheim (GER)||26||22||1|
|15||Midfield||Kyle Beckerman||Real Salt Lake (MLS)||32||37||1|
|11||Midfield||Alejandro Bedoya||Nantes (FRA)||27||28||1|
|13||Midfield||Jermaine Jones||Besiktas (TUR)||32||42||2|
|4||Midfield||Michael Bradley||Toronto (MLS)||26||86||12|
|Seattle Sounders (MLS)||31||105||37|
|17||Forward||Jozy Altidore||Sunderland (ENG)||24||70||23|
There's very little question what lineup German manager Jurgen Klinsmann is going to send out for the Yanks. Timothy Chandler, 1.FC Nürnberg defender, is likely out with a leg issue; that makes Klinsmann's decision easier, not harder.
|12||Goal||Adam Kwarasey||Strømsgodset (NOR)||26||21||0|
|20||Back||Kwadwo Asamoah||Juventus (ITA)||25||62||4|
|21||Back||John Boye||Rennes (FRA)||27||30||3|
|19||Back||Jonathan Mensah||Évian (FRA)||23||27||1|
|23||Back||Harrison Afful||Espérance (TUN)||27||41||0|
|17||Midfield||Mohammed Rabiu||Kuban Krasnodar (RUS)||24||17||0|
|11||Midfield||Sulley Muntari||Milan (ITA)||29||82||19|
|9||Midfield||Kevin-Prince Boateng||Schalke 04 (GER)||27||13||2|
|10||Forward||André Ayew||Marseille (FRA)||24||49||4|
|13||Forward||Jordan Ayew||Sochaux (FRA)||22||13||5|
The Black Stars also have an injury issue, as the great Milan midfielder Michael Essien is unlikely to be able to go. Unlike the American situation, though, this presents problems for James Kwesi Appiah. He may have to move Kwadwo Asamoah forward, and it's unclear who'd replace him in the back. There's also a question in net, as Fatau Dauda of South African side Orlando Pirates may take over for Kwarasey.
The USA really should win this game, but that was true in the last two World Cups as well and we see how that went. It will be a tense evening for American fans. SB Nation's in-depth preview comes courtesy of Kevin McCauley.