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FIFA World Cup: 16 June 2014: Live Thread

Live thread for the World Cup matches played on the fifth day of the 2014 World Cup

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 FIFA World Cup may be less than a week old, but even in such a short space of time, it has established itself as a contender for one of the greatest of the millennium. Alright, that sounds a little more grandiose than it actually is, but it’s true – thus far, nothing and no-one have disappointed. Well, aside from Spain. Excluding the reigning champions, we have been treated to non-stop excitement and superlative display after superlative display from some of the world’s greats.

Neymar? Scored twice. Alexis Sanchez? Grabbed a goal and Man of the Match. Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben? A couple more braces. And after yesterday’s matches, we have a couple more names to add to the list as Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema helped himself to the fourth brace of the tournament while FC Barcelona legend Lionel Messi finally grabbed himself another World Cup goal.

Truly, the stars have been out in force, but even the matches without star power have been entertaining affairs – just look at the Switzerland match. Devoid of truly world-class talent, the Swiss instead thrilled us with a literal last-gasp winner to break Ecuadorian hearts. Truly gripping stuff – all the more reason to be excited about today’s schedule.

Portugal vs Germany, Kickoff: 6pm CET

Neymar is scoring, Karim Benzema is scoring; even Lionel Messi is scoring. Will Cristiano Ronaldo follow suit and light up this World Cup? Arguably it’s his final World Cup at the peak of his powers; while Ronaldo is a physical specimen, it’s difficult to envisage him being quite so overpowering and all-conquering in four years’ time at the age of 33. So, this is the last chance saloon for one of the game’s all-time greats: now or never.

His problem, perhaps unlike Messi, is that he really doesn’t have a supporting cast. Sure, he has a functional team around him, but there is no doubt that Portugal are a step below the likes of Brazil and Argentina. Indeed, they might even be a step below their opponents in the afternoon’s early kick-off: Germany are tipped as one of the favourites – can they deliver on the pre-tournament hype and deliver, even without Marco Reus?

Keep an eye out for Miroslav Klose – with a good campaign, the German striker may overtake Ronaldo (classic) and top the all-time World Cup scoring list.

Iran vs Nigeria, Kickoff: 9pm CET

One for the hardcores: the might of Iran take on the might of Nigeria in the evening kick-off – forgive me if I can’t get excited about this one. Former Osasuna midfield Javad Nekounam is still going strong, skippering the Iran side tipped to crumble at the group stage; with a match against Argentina lying in wait, Iran need to pick up points early if they wish to entertain hopes of a shock knockout berth – but even against Nigeria, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

On the other hand, Nigeria are an odd case – they weren’t a great team to begin with and their World Cup pedigree is mixed. A complacent performance from them could see Iran spring a surprise – and hell, who knows, they might be throwing the game anyway…

USA vs Ghana, Kickoff: 0am CET

For all those who weren’t aware, this is actually an American site. We have a few Americans on the books, yet somehow I’ve been given the task of writing about them here. Go figure – anyway, the USofA are a passionate bunch, even if it isn’t the most popular of sports, it seems like the majority of the country tunes in to back the boys when the World Cup comes around. And this represents a new era for the US – Landon Donovan is gone, Clint Dempsey might be gone by the next World Cup, so there’s a chance for the young stars to shine.

Ghana are not to be underestimated though – they came within a few inches of reaching the semi-finals in 2010, as Asamoah Gyan rattled the crossbar with a penalty kick in the dying stages of a quarter-final showdown with Uruguay. Are they as good now as they were then? Probably not, but that might still be good enough to beat the USA.

There you have it, the schedule for today – enjoy the matches!

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