Everybody and his mum has been pointing out how much better this World Cup has been so far than the last one was, and they're not wrong. I attribute this to the fall of Spain, as they were the chief progenitors of the boring 1-0 victory with 3,000 sideways passes. That may just be because I hate Spain, though. At any rate, the games have been open and flowing, and even the overmatched teams have been going for it a little. The results have been electrifying so far. For up-to-the minute coverage, keep your browser tuned to SBN's World Cup hub.
Germany v. Portugal, 12 PM (Group G) - ESPN
Germany is not the clear favorite in the tournament - that would be Brazil - but they are one of the teams widely touted to have the talent to make a run at it. Even a recent spate of injuries in the midfield hasn't left them short of attacking players. Thirty-six-year-old striker Miro Klose has been Germany's man for the big occasion in the past, and he only needs one goal to pull level with legendary Brazilian Ronaldo as the World Cup's all-time leading scorer. On the other side, Portugal had to win a playoff with Ukraine to qualify, but they carry menace in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo, a forward who has an argument for being the best player in the game. Their whole side is more or less set up to get him the ball running at defenses, and the German defense is the weakest point in a strong side.
Interest level for me: I'll be living and dying with every moment, as I support Germany
Interest level for everyone else: a true team effort from top all-time program versus a team with history of its own counting on one superlative player; think 'Melo's Syracuse team versus Kansas in the 2003 title game
Iran vs Nigeria, 3 PM (Group F) - ESPN
Nigeria struggled through a dismal group in Africa to qualify, scoring just seven goals in six matches against some very poor competition. They are led by Chelsea midfielder Jon Obi Mikel, but quality in the side beyond him is in short supply. Iran, on the other hand, has only one player (Fulham's Ashkan Dejagah) who is even owned by a team participating in a top-flight league. This game does not figure to be a firecracker, and these two teams will likely be going home after the group stage.
Interest level: game between two middle-of-the-pack Atlantic Sun teams
Ghana vs United States, 6 PM (Group G) - ESPN
This is the one I suspect many of you will be waiting for. Ghana has a good number of quality players - including the delightfully named John Boye - and thundered through qualifying scoring 25 goals and allowing just 6. Their attack focuses on Asamoah Gyan - whose mediocre club soccer record has landed him in the United Arab Emirates - as his strike rate for the Black Stars (I promise that's not racist) is better than one in two. The US, meanwhile, left all-time leading scorer Landon Donovan behind this year and will hope that the midfield stylings of Michael Bradley and the creativity of Clint Dempsey can make up for the lack of a goalscorer up front.