By David F. Cohen
All four Group of Death teams might still be alive by the end of Sunday if oddsmakers are correct and Portugal defeats the United States.
Portugal, even with a limping Cristiano Ronaldo, is a big favorite against the Americans as Group G action resumes. With Germany and Ghana drawing Saturday, this group remains up for grabs, though a loss to the U.S. would put Portugal out of the tournament and onto the sidelines with teams like Spain and England.
Group H action also resumes and both games are meaningful for advancement to the next round.
Group G: USA vs. Portugal
Portugal is a -140 favorite going up against the United States. The U.S. is a +330 underdog to win the game outright and +325 to play to a draw. On the two-way line, Portugal is -1.0 (+125) over USA +1.0 (-150). The total is set at 2.5 goals.
After a nightmare start in a 4-0 loss to Germany, Portugal needs a win in this game to keep its World Cup hopes alive. Ronaldo is not playing at 100%, but he should have a bigger impact on the game against a USA squad that doesn’t possess the relentless attack that Germany did.
With its 2-1 win over Ghana, the USA put itself in great shape to advance into the knockout stage. If the U.S. can earn a draw in this game, it would likely be enough to send the team through as it would have a commanding lead over Portugal in goal differential.
The USA will be without striker Jozy Altidore, who is out with a hamstring injury.
Group H: Belgium vs. Russia
Belgium is a -120 favorite to win this game and take a stranglehold over Group H. Russia is going off at +325 to win and +270 to draw while those two results are combined under Russia +0.5 (+100). The total is set at 2.5 goals.
Belgium and Russia each came into the 2014 World Cup with some hype, but neither looked sharp in its opening game of the tournament. Belgium needed to come back from down a goal to squeeze out a 2-1 win over Algeria, while Russia couldn’t find a go-ahead goal in a 1-1 draw against South Korea.
This game will serve as a good test for both teams. Many soccer bettors were picking Belgium to do some damage in this year’s World Cup, and a strong win over a quality Russian side would be a step in the right direction. Russia will try to get its offense going after a disappointing performance last week.
Group H: South Korea vs. Algeria
South Korea is a +120 favorite on Sunday over Algeria (+230) according to WorldCupOdds.net with draw odds going off at +240. On the two-way line, the game is a pick’em with South Korea at -165 over Algeria at +135. The total is set at two goals.
South Korea was excellent on defense in playing to a 1-1 draw against Russia, and figures to be again on Sunday. The question will be on offense, where the team lacks much punch and only scored on a mishandled ball by the goalkeeper against Russia.
Algeria’s solid showing against Belgium suggests that the team won’t be the group pushover it was projected to be before the tournament began.