Here is a look at the three World Cup games that took place on Monday.
Germany 4 – Portugal 0
Both Germany and Portugal are expected to be atop Group G after the first few weeks of the World Cup. However, if things continue the way that they started on Monday, Portugal may be in a bit of trouble. Germany got on the board early with a goal from Thomas Müller just 12 minutes in. Müller wouldn’t be done on the day after his first score, as the Man of The Match also notched a goal in extra time right before half and again in the 78th minute. Along with all of his scoring, Müller was also part of another play on the field that changed the entire outlook of this game – and possibly the rest of Group G play. After Müller drove to the goal, Portugal’s Pepe got in his way and took the German down. In what appeared to be frustration with what Pepe thought was a dive, he approached Müller and head-butted him while he was on the ground. This resulted in a red card for Pepe in the 37th minute, sending one of Portugal’s best players off the pitch. Already down a goal, Portugal struggled the rest of the game as they were now a man down as well. Cristiano Renaldo was ineffective in this opening game as he was unable to score on any of the five shots he took on goal.
The Germans will play Ghana next, while Portugal will have a crucial matchup against the USA.
Iran 0 – Nigeria 0
The odds are not in favor for either Iran or Nigeria to win the World Cup this year. But that doesn’t mean that fans wouldn’t have enjoyed a more exciting game than this 0-0 draw. Nigeria controlled possession for 63% of the match, though they were only able to get three more shots on goal with their efforts. Overall, this game was disappointing to watch. Both of these teams did get a point, but they’ll likely be fighting it out to try and keep up with Argentina if either hopes to advance. Iran has 2500/1 odds to win the World Cup and Nigeria is at 300/1. But after watching this match, you can tell that they are both much less talented behind some of the other top-tier teams in the tournament.
Next up in Group F, Argentina will play Iran and Nigeria will play Bosnia and Herzegovina on June 20th.
Ghana 1 – USA 2
In what was certainly the most exciting game on the day, the United States got a huge win over Ghana, putting them right where they need to be if they want to advance from group play. Ghana torched the dreams of the USMNT in 2010, but it didn’t take long for the American’s to get revenge. In the first minute of play, Clint Dempsey would drive towards the net and put one past Adam Kwarasey. Dempsey has now scored in three straight World Cup tournaments and the Americans will hope he can remain in form moving forward. After USA scored, they dropped back into a complete defensive strategy and Ghana controlled most of the possession. The men from Ghana had 21 shots during the game, compared to just 8 for America. Luckily for the USMNT, Tim Howard was eclectic in net and kept them in the game. Ghana did score in the 82nd minute when Andre Ayew put one past Howard. However, it was just four minutes later that John Brooks took the ball for the Americans and headed it past Kwarasey off a corner kick. The goal was Brooks’ first in World Cup play, after being subbed into the game just minutes before.
The American’s needed this win, especially considering the challenges that will be ahead of them against Portugal and Germany. However, it’s a great start to the tournament and it could pay off as they move forward. Before USA and Portugal kickoff on June 23rd, check back with sportspicks.com handicappers for insight into the game. USA is still at 150/1 odds and Portugal is at 40/1. But when you compare the play of the two on Monday, America certainly looked to be the better team in their game.