America: Let’s Do it | USA vs. Germany

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Your feelings of overwhelming anticipation mixed with imminent sadness and a yearning to start all over again are completely normal.

That's because Thursday is the last day of the World Cup group round. Soon, the brackets will be complete and all the mathematical fun that goes with them will be in the past.

The knockout rounds are all business; show up or go home and thus far, only a few teams have truly proven their mettle in the group stages. Yet, four spots in the round of 16 remain. Let's take a look at what you should expect on the last — and arguably most dramatic — day of the group stages.

USA vs. Germany, 12 p.m. ET

fifa2014,fifa world cup 2014,cristiano ronaldo,usa need a draw,germany vs usa,portugal vs ghana,overwhelming anticipation,last day of the World Cup group round,Mesut Ozil,Toni Kroos,Bastian Schweinsteiger,Thomas Mueller,Sulley Muntari missing,USA fans will want a Portugal win




From left to right, Germany's Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Mueller stand over a free kick during the Group G World Cup soccer match between Germany and Ghana at the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil on June 21.

That being said, Germany and the USA are likely picks to advance out of the group. In particular, Germany's chances at exiting the tournament in the group stages are pretty low. It would take a loss to the USA, a Ghana win over Portugal and a combination of 6 goals between the USA and Ghana without conceding any for Germany to be knocked out due to goal differential. In a Portugal win over Ghana, it would take a staggering 9 goals between USA and Portugal to knock Germany out.

What remains to be seen is the seeding: the USA can take the no. 1 seed with a win on Friday and Germany can clinch it with a win or draw.

Second seed from this group will likely go on to face Belgium and first seed will probably face off against Algeria. Both the USA and Germany look capable of beating both, and could very likely move onto the quarterfinals. Which is where it really gets dicey. On the second seed side of the bracket, the biggest threats are Argentina and the Netherlands. On the first seed side, if all goes according to predictions, Brazil would be waiting in the semi-finals.

Portugal vs. Ghana, 12 p.m. ET




If USA loses to Germany on Friday, this match has a lot of implications. Because both teams drew in their second group stage matches, they are both still alive in the tournament and have a shot at advancing over the USA.

So while every USA fan will be watching their team's last match, they'll be listening for the results of this one.

The biggest threat to USA's potential playoff berth will be Ghana. If Ghana wins by 2 goals and the U.S. loses by at least 1, Ghana knocks out the USA from the World Cup for the third time (as it did in 2006 and in 2010).

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the Group G World Cup soccer match between the USA and Portugal at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil on June 22.

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How possible is this outcome? It could go either way. Though Ghana played excellent soccer on Saturday agains the Germans — creatively moving the ball and using their speed to rush the counter attack against a slower German defense —they will be without key player Sulley Muntari after he drew his second yellow card. Additionally, Kevin-Prince Boateng was reportedly dismissed from training for arguing with Ghana's coach.

But it might not matter against a weak Portugal. Though they were able to find crucial goals against the USA, Portugal took advantage of Team USA's lackluster defense, which made suspect coverage errors. Cristiano Ronaldo's last minute cross to Silvestre Varela was beautiful soccer, but largely aided by Team USA's defense not being goal side in the last 30 seconds of the match.

Ultimately, USA fans will want a Portugal win (but not by more than 5 goals to insure the goal differential tiebreaker), or a draw.

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