As expected, Argentina and France breezed through to top their respective groups, Bosnia finally gave their longsuffering fans something to cheer about, and Switzerland carved up Honduras to secure passage over Ecuador. Unlike Wednesday, when Bosnia was mathematically eliminated, and Honduras was practically eliminated, every team on Thursday will have at least some faint glimmer of hope for advancement to the Round of 16.
Noon Kickoffs (Group G):
USA (4, +1) v. Germany (4,+4)
Ghana (1,-1) v. Portugal (1,-4)
A draw in Recife between the US and Germany would render the result of the other match a moot point, but both Jurgen Klinsmann and Jogi Loew have made comments indicating that there will be no collusion involved here. The Germans looked formidable in dominating Portugal, but started to show some chinks in the armor defensively against Ghana before being rescued by Miroslav Klose's record tying 15th World Cup Finals goal, leaving them in the drivers seat of this group. The US was 30 seconds away from securing advancement, but a careless late giveaway gave Chris (he loves that nickname!) Ronaldo a chance to spring Silvestre Varela for an equalizer which will haunt the US if they, by some stroke of misfortune, fail to advance here. In the other game, Ghana will have the more realistic hopes of advancement, given their massive advantage in goal differential over Portugal, but given the circumstances in which Portugal qualified over Sweden, it is impossible to count out another Ronaldo-inspired miracle.
4PM Kickoffs (Group H):
South Korea (1,-2) v. Belgium (6, +2)
Russia (1,-1) v. Algeria (3,+1)
Belgium's ultra talented generation's arrival on the World Cup stage has not gone exactly as planned, as they have scraped a pair of uninspiring wins against unimposing competition. Still, they literally only have to show up to advance, and South Korea's only hope of advancement is sneaking a 4 goal onslaught against a resting Belgium side. That is to say that of the teams with 1 point in this group, and indeed playing on the group stage's final day, Russia has the best chance of advancement. Barring the far fetched "South Korea is actually really good/Belgium just takes a nap" scenario laid out above, all the Russians have to do is beat Algeria to advance. However, once Algeria finally broke their long World Cup Finals scoring streak last game, their taste for blood proved insatiable (not as much so as Luis Suarez's, as it turns out) and they poured 4 past South Korea to put themselves in charge of their own destiny. All they have to do is not lose.