2014 World Cup: 5 Can’t-Miss Matches During The Final Round of Group Play

2014 World Cup: 5 Can't Miss Matches During The Final Round of Group

Tim Howard
Winslow Townson - USATODAY Sports

The group stage of the 2014 World Cup is starting to wind down, but not before the third round of games, where there is much to be decided regarding who advances to the Knockout Stage and who goes home. There are stakes in nearly every game, but here are five matches that you can't miss.

5. Ivory Coast vs. Greece

2014 World Cup Didier Drogba Ivory Coast
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5. Ivory Coast vs. Greece

2014 World Cup Didier Drogba Ivory Coast
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The hopes of the Ivory Coast's golden generation rest on this game. The Elephants need a win to assure passage to the next round against a Greece team that can be difficult to play against. If the Ivory Coast loses, this group of players will be considered perhaps the biggest disappointment in the history of African soccer.

4. Ghana vs. Portugal

ghanawin
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4. Ghana vs. Portugal

ghanawin
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Both teams enter with just one point, needing a win and some help to advance. But both teams are capable of playing at a high level, and both will be going all out in search of a win, which should lead to an entertaining game, especially with both teams coming off emotionally draining draws with a relatively short turnaround between games.

3. Mexico vs. Croatia

Ochoa Brazil Mexico World Cup
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3. Mexico vs. Croatia

Ochoa Brazil Mexico World Cup
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Unless Brazil suffers a stunning loss to Cameroon, there'll only be room for one of these teams in the Knockout Stage. Mexico has the upper hand, as a draw will allow them to advance, otherwise it's winner take all. After all the trouble El Tri had during qualifying, they've played well during this tournament; will they be able to keep that up against a capable Croatian team, or will the Mexicans fold under the pressure?

2. USA vs. Germany

USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann
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2. USA vs. Germany

USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann
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Both teams control their own destiny in terms of advancing, and both still have a chance to finish atop the Group of Death, but both teams could be left out of Knockout Stage if things go wrong. Even with so much on the line, one of the biggest subplots of the tournament could take center stage, with U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann facing the country he once coached and led to a World Cup championship as a player.

1. Uruguay vs. Italy

Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring for Uruguay against England
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1. Uruguay vs. Italy

Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring for Uruguay against England
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This is another winner-takes-all scenario, but this time between two former champions and the two group favorites heading into the tournament. Italy advances with a draw, so they can pack it in and play tight defense for 90 minutes, but Luis Suarez regained his scoring touch against England and he could be tough to keep under wraps for 90 minutes, making this a fascinating matchup to watch with a lot on the line.

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