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This weekend’s can’t-miss matches

Published: June 20, 2014, 4:21 am, by Scott Kaniewski
US striker Clint Dempsey celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Ghana on  June 16. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

US striker Clint Dempsey celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Ghana on June 16. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

A week ago we introduced the can’t-miss matches of the weekend for World Cup 2014 in Brazil. How’d that turn out?

The Netherlands drubbed Spain 5-1 in a shocker no one saw coming. England rallied from a 1-0 deficit only to lose to Italy 2-1 (awfully similar to the way England lost to Uruguay on Thursday). And Argentina held off Bosnia and Herzegovina with a little magic from The Flea, Lionel Messi.

Let’s see what this weekend’s games are offering, capped off with the United States getting back in action.

(If you watch only one video in this blog, be sure to scroll down to the bottom for a Lego version of Pepe’s famed head butt.)


Friday, June 20

Match: Italy (1-0) v. Costa Rica (1-0)

Time: 10 a.m.

Why you can’t miss it: We can’t believe we’ve got this as the match of the day, but Costa Rica’s 3-1 win over Uruguay instantly threw Los Ticos into group-champ status. We don’t think they have a chance here, but we didn’t think they had a chance a week ago. Whoever wins is heading to the knockout stages. Loser is still very much alive.

Italy did well enough to top England, thanks to a game-winning header from Mario Balotelli (video below) then showed its defensive prowess the last 10 minutes to severely limit the Three Lions’ offensive attack. Against Costa Rica, the Italian side should get more chances and look even better on defense. (Side note: a Costa Rica win or draw would eliminate England from any chance of advancing.)

Saturday, June 21

Match: Germany (1-0) v. Ghana (0-1)

Time: 1 p.m.

Why you can’t miss it: Plain and simple, Ghana need to win. But needing to win and actually winning against this German side are two extraordinarily different concepts.

Ghana had plenty of chances on the attack against the United States. Can the Black Stars do it against the Germans?

Germany looked as strong as ever against Portugal, sparked by a hat trick by Thomas Muller (video below). Die Mannschaft will want to do away with Ghana as quick as possible and advance to the knockout stage. A win for the Germans will all but take care of that scenario.

It’ll be very interesting to see if Germany neutralizes Ghana’s outside speed or if the Black Stars can somehow go on the attack.

Sunday, June 22

Match: United States (1-0) v. Portugal (0-1)

Time: 4 p.m.

Why you can’t miss it: Because this game takes place a day after the Germany and Ghana game, a scenario outlining the United States’ chances to advance should be pretty clear.

Let’s not worry about that now. For this game, the US will be without forward Jozy Altidore, ruled out with that hamstring injury. At last report, Portugal was still expecting Cristiano Ronaldo to play. Throw in a couple more Portugal injuries, plus a missing Pepe thanks to that red card (video below), and the U.S. could be facing a lot worse (they will when they end group play with Germany).

The US did enough to beat Ghana to put them in a great position. Can they capitalize on it? Let’s find out.