Germany vs Portugal
Kickoff 11am CT
Germany - Where do you start with this squad? There seems to be criticism that they only have one real striker (Klose) in their squad, and it was surprising that one of the other talented German strikers didn't get an opportunity to provide forward depth, but Muller can also play as a striker, and Schurrle, Podolski and Gotze can also do a reasonable job in that role. Klose could take Ronaldo's record, a part of me will be sad about that, but what an accomplishment that is if he does manage to set the new record. There are quite a few players in this squad who aren't 100% fit. The incredible thing is that they have enough quality depth to cope with that. The injury to Reus is awful news, and I hope he is ok (physically and mentally). Marco Reus has been one of the best players in Europe for the last two seasons, it is very unfortunate that he won't be participating in this tournament. It's also unfortunate that Bender and Gundogan couldn't make the squad. I think Toni Kroos will be their most important player, especially with Schweinsteiger not being 100%. I love how he always wants the ball, his passing ability and vision is fantastic. And he has one of the best long range shots I have seen in football. I'm interested in seeing how Ozil performs, especially after his debut PL season. It's difficult enough playing in the Premier League, but to move from a foreign league and then have a World Cup tournament at the end of the season on top of that is asking a lot of the player. I hope he plays well this summer, I love watching him play when he is in form. I am a big fan of Neuer and Hummels, and Lahm is the best full back in the world (though he might be operating as a defensive midfielder).
Portugal - Their progress depends on how fit Ronaldo is. Ronaldo is in the peak of his career, what an extraordinary football player and athlete. Arguably the best player in the world, it is a blessing and a curse that he is playing in the same era as Messi. They had to rely on the playoff system to get to the World Cup. His performances against Sweden were phenomenal. I would still expect them to get out of the group if Ronaldo wasn't fit, but it would make things easier for the US. They've yet to find a top class centre forward, and they still use Nani on the wing, who needs to find consistency. These two issues could makes things difficult for Ronaldo, as the pressure will be on him. Moutinho is their midfield maestro, Portugal will want him on form to help create chances for the attacking trio. They have a very decent defence, Pepe being the best defender they have. Pepe is a good defender, but he's an even better villain. And Fabio Coentrao will provide great energy down the left.
Iran vs Nigeria
Kickoff 2pm CT
Iran - I have to admit that I don't know too much about the Iranian squad. I know that Carlos Queiroz manages them, so they will be better than I expect. I know that Dejagah plays for them, I enjoyed watching him play for Fulham, he looked like a very bright wide midfielder . I'm not going to pretend that I know about them and Google search their squad, I will tell you that I think finishing 3rd in this group would be an impressive finish, in my opinion.
Nigeria - I'm not sure about this Nigeria team, it's not unrealistic to think that they could take that 2nd spot. I do wonder if Obafemi Martins received a call from Nigeria, I think he would have been a good addition to the squad. I'm not sure what to think of their midfield, the only player I know if defensive midfielder John Obi Mikel, though he is given more freedom with Nigeria. And I only really know Joseph Yobo when looking at their defence, I liked what I saw of Omeruo when he was on loan at Boro. I am a big fan of their goalkeeper,Enyeama impressed me when I saw him play this season for Lille. I like their attacking players. I've always been a fan of Victor Moses, I remember his days at Crystal Palace. Ameobi is a solid striker,he will work hard for the team, but I don't think Nigeria should use him as anything but 4th choice striker. Musa looks like he has a lot of potential. Emineke is going to be very important to them, especially after his performances at the last ACN. And I am happy to see Peter Odemwingie in the squad, he fell out with the Nigeria manager, but he is a very good striker, especially when he is enjoying his football.
Ghana vs United States
Kickoff 5pm CT
Ghana - I imagine Gyan still has nightmares about that penalty miss in South Africa. I am keen to see if he is still a good player, I wasn't a fan of the transfer move he made. I want to see how Kevin Prince-Boateng performs this summer. I remember watching him play against Derby County, he didn't impress me. I have been impressed with how he has progressed since then, and I see why Tottenham purchased him. He is a very good attacking midfielder. I want to see what position Asamoah occupies, will he play in central midfield, on the wing or as a left back? They could do with his energy to partner Essien, who is past his best. I also want to see how Atsu performs and I have to admit that I am surprised that Andre Ayew is still playing in Ligue 1. I'm not a fan of their defence, and I would be shocked if they managed to get out of the group.
United States - This is a difficult task for the USMNT. I hope they can get out of this group, it certainly isn't impossible. US fans need to trust Klinsmann and show him support. I can understand why he would face criticism if the U.S didn't perform to an acceptable level, especially with his decision to leave Donovan out of his squad, but I can understand why he did it. I'm not going to go any further into the Donovan issue, all I will say is that he is a superb footballer and US fans are lucky to have had such a quality player representing their country. I'm happy to see Brad Davis in the squad. The USMNT should be happy they have his delivery and passing ability on the team, and I hope he gets a chance to show his worth. I have to admit I wasn't a fan of Brad Davis, then I started watching Dynamo games. He has his flaws, but I can't believe just how important he is to the Dynamo, and that's because of his ability. The addition of Green could help the US, as he will be an unknown quality to two teams. And I look forward to seeing how Zusi performs. Altidore had a difficult season at Sunderland (he wasn't the only player to do so). I think he would be the first to admit that he wasn't at his best, and I was worried that the lack of goals would have a negative impact on his confidence going into the World Cup. I am happy to see that he has been scoring goals in the build-up to the World Cup, it was essential to the USMNT that he regained that confidence. Dempsey is a fantastic talent, and I hope he plays just off Altidore. I like the centre back pairing of Besler and Cameron, though I can understand why JK could go with Gonzalez. I've been very impressed with Besler, he is a very good centre back and deserves that starting role. I think Michael Bradley will be the most important man on the pitch, I think his energy and quality are key to the US. I hope he leads by example and can encourage other players. I have mixed feelings about him playing MLS football, I hope he made the right call. This really is a difficult challenge for the United States, but it is not impossible. The US should hope that Germany beat the other teams, and that leaves the second slot wide open. And Ghana's defence is open, and Portugal need Ronaldo, the US have a decent chance.