Puttering around in group play becomes a bad habit for some elite World Cup teams, but not Germany. It has sailed through the last 19 games in the round-robin phase with just one loss.
At the same time, the Germans have proved vulnerable in their middle games, going 1-3-1 in the last five. Such numbers should lift Ghana, Saturday's opponent, out of any lingering moroseness from its 2-1 loss to the U.S. six days earlier.
Germany pulverized Portugal, 4-0, as Thomas Mueller launched a convincing defense of his 2010 Golden Boot award with three goals. Portugal gave the Germans an opening with the red-card disqualification of ace defender Pepe, and they charged through to a blowout victory.
Ghana has had ample time to deal with complaints from Kwadwo Asamoah, the nation's reigning MVP, about his defensive role. He would prefer to attack.
The Ghanians also have had to deal with remarks to the media from their star midfielder, Kevin-Prince Boateng, a former junior player in Germany who has smeared Saturday's foe as lacking toughness. One German is showing toughness -- Boateng's half-brother, Jerome, who will wear a splint over his badly injured thumb.
The day's other matches will help clear the smoke in Group F.
Against Iran, Argentina was expected to start with the 4-3-3 alignment that revived its offense in the second half of a 2-1 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina. Much to the chagrin of forward Lionel Messi, his team took a more defensive posture in the first period.
Bosnia, which amassed 11 shots at the goal in a creditable debut, confront Nigeria. The Super Eagles came out of a tie against Iran with no goals and several injuries that figure to complicate their task.