World Cup Weekend: As Titans Fall, Will Germany, Argentina Stand Tall?

Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring Argentina's second goal during the Group F World Cup soccer match between Argentina and Bosnia at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 15.

Giants are falling, people.
Costa Rica upset Italy Friday, earning a spot in the knockout round, leaving Uruguay and Italy scrambling for Group D's second seed and eliminating England from the tournament.
The World Cup regulars just don't seem to be showing up.
Throw in Chile making chumps of the reigning world champs Spain on Wednesday and you have the CONCACAF league looking deadly in this year's tournament. (That's the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football.)

With Saturday's matches featuring titans of the tournament — Argentina and Germany — how will their groups shape up? Here's what to expect for Group F and Group G on Saturday.

Argentina vs. Iran


Argentina's Lionel Messi, center, runs at the Bosnian defense during the Group F World Cup soccer match between Argentina and Bosnia at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 15.
Given the events of Group F thus far, you can safely expect a victory for Argentina in Saturday's opener.
And if Argentina does win, they'll secure the top seed in Group F — thanks to Iran and Nigeria's nil-nil draw on Monday.
So, assuming Argentina does win and earns a playoff spot, it's a good time to start looking at Argentina's future in the tournament. Plenty of soccers fan knew Argentina would be a favorite to win the whole thing. After Switzerland's loss on Thursday, Argentina will likely be facing the Swiss squad in their first playoff match (the first seed from Group F faces the second seed in Group E).
The most historically threatening teams haven't played up to their potential thus far in the tournament. In the opening weeks of the World Cup, only two teams came out of the gate with overwhelming performances: Germany and the Netherlands. Even the Netherlands — after dominating Spain 5-1 in their opening match — struggled against Australia on Tuesday. In a World Cup full of this much action and upsets, nothing is certain.
Though his humble demeanor belies his drive to win, Messi is almost unmatched on the pitch, garnering fear and respect from his opponents. That's truly scary reality when it comes to the knockout round.

Germany vs. Ghana


Germany's Thomas Mueller scores his team's fourth goal and his third during the Group G World Cup soccer match between Germany and Portugal at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil on June 16.
This match will be the real treat of Saturday.
In Ghana's opening match against the USA, the Ghanaian squad handled the ball well and certainly dominated possession. But as much as soccer is a game of skill and strategy, heart ultimately factors in, and the USMNT has never been short of that in past World Cup performances.
While Ghana played well, they struggled to find attacking opportunities against a relatively weak USA defense. Considering how Germany likes to stack the midfield, Ghana will face some stiff competition in Germany — undeniably the biggest threat of Group G — and the match could very likely end up a second victory for Germany.
Then there's the Boateng sibling rivalry. Kevin-Prince Boateng and Jerome Boateng have dual-citizenship in Germany and Ghana. Kevin-Prince chose to play for Ghana, and his brother Jerome chose Germany. Kevin-Prince is a forward and Jerome is a defender. Unlike Ghana's suspect decision in its opening match to put Kevin-Prince in at the half, you should expect him to start Saturday, meeting his brother on the pitch.
If Germany wins, they'll likely be facing Belgium or Russia from Group H in the knockout round. But seeding for their group could be interesting, depending on the results of the USA vs. Portugal match on Sunday. If the USA wins, seeding will ultimately depend on one of the last matches of Group G on June 26: Germany vs. USA.

Nigeria vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina


Nigerian players applaud spectators after the Group F World Cup soccer match between Iran and Nigeria at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil on June 16. The match ended in a 0-0 draw.
The last match of the day has fairly low stakes.
Perhaps Nigeria was nervous in their nil-nil opener against Iran — but with Bosnia-Herzegovina showing some signs of life against Argentina, though they ultimately lost, you could expect a win for Bosnia.
In the event of a Bosnia-Herzegovina win, the squad will likely take the second seed of the group and likely meet France, who is favored to exit Group E over Honduras or Ecuador.
But let's give Nigeria the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they did just have opening round nerves, and they come out and perform in their second match. Because of their draw, a win for Nigeria would secure them the second seed in Group F — pulling 4 points in the group. In that event, even if Bosnia-Herzegovina beat Iran in their last match of the group stages, they wouldn't have enough points to beat the Nigerians.

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